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Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Port of Spain

Trinidad and Tobago has some very interesting sights and sounds for its visitors.
Things I loved the most in Trinidad include their architecture (they have beautiful houses-with fine carvings on wood in a hut shape), their fondness for Pakistan (Waseem Akram is very popular) and their food which is close to ours' because they have a 25% population with an Indian ancestory.
Their very traditional baked SHARK was unique and quite good. By the way, unlike other fish, shark's meat doesn't have a strong smell or a strong taste. My earlier closest encounter with sharks was only through a film (JAWS:1975) or a few documentaries on National Geographic TV and never had I Imagined getting this close to a shark - dead or alive -I mean in a bowl of a soup or in a plate....gosh! It was an exciting experience.
Among the choices in terms of restaurants, Chinese have been doing a good job. They have many - good to eat places in the downtown. I also had some of their soups and the serving were very good and economical. The city has a big Chinese population and the grocery stores with everything Chinese - needed in a Chinese kitchen, is radily available.
Subway and KFC is another common sight with no Mac. Donalds - service was O.K and prices were a bit higher than usual ( I don't know why?).
I was lucky to be a part of a carnival and wow, it was sooo colorful and a lot of fun to experience. This was my first-ever time to "physically being part of a Carnival"- and it was memorable. I also had a chance to see the Minister of Culture and Tourism as well as the Prime Miniter from a very close range. For a very short trip and knowledge of this place - I liked both the politicians.
Peopl from around the world live there - you can hear all sorts of languages such as Spanish, Portugese and of course English (their national language).
People love music here and love to hear it very loud: making sure that nobody should be spared. This music is a combination of a Punjabi Bhangra with an African touch. Combination of two very "loud" music styles. I also saw the performance of Trini's "steelpan" orchestra. Steelpan are actually using steel drums(including containers, pots and pans). It seems simple yet technical.
I also loved the random chit chat of the people who have plenty of time to spend with just anybody. They are very helpful and kind though.
Port of Spain has a beautiful landscape, beaches & weather- almost all the year round. It is a rather expensive destination compared to what I was thinking. A standard meal from a street stall would cost you about $4(USD).
Four Trinidad dollars = $1US. Currency is strong and so is the economy. I must say that travelling has indeed made me appreciate Pakistan more than ever before. Even today, a roadside Dhaba (make-shift food stalls) or a Chappar hotel can serve you a very fresh, delicious and piping hot meal (with a main dish, roti and salad) for just 50 cents(which in Pakistani currecy equals to Rs.35-40). Where in the world is that possible? Choice of a less elaborate meal can be a tandoori nan and a cup of tea (12 cents): beats me!
Anyhow, people in Port of Spain are very knowledgable about Pakistan. An old man lectured me on Jinnah's (founder of Pakistan: Quaid e Azam)life, his contributions and achievements. It was very impressive. He concluded his conversation with a 'remark' or a statement rather and said: "I want to see Jinnah's Pakistan." I said : "Me too." This gives one impression that people are concerned about this place with all their sincerity.
I had promised a few people that once I'll get back home I'll post them their pictures but since I lost a bulk of my photos that's not an option anymore. Nevertheless, I have been able to sent them postcards instead.
I'll miss the trees, the lush green landscape, huts on the hills and its friendly people (everybody would especially stop and will pose for you which is darn cute!).
I can't wait to go back again!

1) I would suggest the travellers planning a trip to Trinidad to get a taxi themselves instead of asking hotel management - you can save a lot of money. These guys charges a huge amount, taking advantage of the fact that you don't know much about fares or even about the city. For a 5 minutes ride, the taxi driver charged me 30$(USD)inclusive of haggling and tax of some sort- it was my most expensive taxi ride ever for such a short distance ( I got off in the middle because he said he would charge me 45$).
2) Staying at a reputed hotel is a better option than motels and guest houses - for the mere fact that they are located in some of the nicest localities, easy to access the entire city and last but not the least, have great lockers to put away your most precious belongings.
3) Preferably, do NOT get the US dollar exchanged to Trinidad dollar during your trip because if you pay in USD-they automatically return you the change in the local currency with a better rate than what banks would offer you. Moreover, almost all places, gladly accepts American currency.
4) Sometimes WiFi is free hence, do NOT forget to take your notebook...but in downtown Port of Spain, they have Internet cafes.
5) Do NOT hesitate to take a public transport - it is pretty interesting and cheap.

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