“Trinidad is my land and of it I am proud and glad, but I cyah understand why some people does talk it bad. All ah dem way running dey mouth, don’t know what dey talking ‘bout. They will paint here black everyday but the right words dey will never say…”
Those are the words of the Mighty Sniper; words that are just as relevant in 2021 as they were in 1965. And they are words that resonate to the core of my being.
Trinidad is truly an exceptional place to live, work and play. And for someone who as travelled all over the world, it’s a place I am proud to call home.
Here’s why Trinidad is an exceptional place to live, work and play.
Trinidad could not be what it is without its amazing sister island of Tobago. Trinidad belongs to the twin-island state of Trinidad and Tobago. While Trinidad is the more vibrant, party-going, busy and bustling location, Tobago offers pure idyllic tranquility, creating two distinct experiences.
Experience Being in Tobago.
Trinidad boasts of world-famous people, such as Olympic Gold medalists Kishorn Walcott and Ato Boldon; famous pop stars such as Niki Minaj and Billy Ocean; world influential creative geniuses like Peter Minshall and Andrew Ramroop (OBE). You can’t talk about famous Trinis without mentioning some of the calypso greats like the Mighty Sparrow and Lord Kitchener. And don’t forget soca icons such as Machel Montano, Kees Dieffenthaller and Bunji Garlin. Notable mention must be given to Project Runway winner, Anyya Ayoung-Chee; top-class cricketers Brian Lara and Ian Bishop. And let’s not forget that the very first black woman to win the Miss Universe competition was none other than Trinidadian Penny Commissiong who won in 1977. Trinidad also had a second Miss Universe winner with Wendy Fitzwilliams. And if you’re looking for literary excellence Trinidad also has a Nobel Prize Winner – V. S. Naipaul.
It’s not a surprise that Trinidad has produced so many exceptionally talented people. Education is given top priority. Trinidad is one of the few countries in the world that provides free education for its citizens at all levels – primary, secondary and tertiary. World activist and champion for education, Malala Malala Yousafzai said in her visit to Trinidad and Tobago that this country “should be an example to other countries… And should tell other countries to learn from this country and make education free for all children and there should be quality education for every child.”
Trinidad and Tobago is the largest economy in the English-speaking Caribbean. Rich in oil and energy products, Trinidad and Tobago boasts a GDP level of US $36.4 Billion in 2020. With an active stock exchange and thriving banking sector, Trinidad is often considered the financial hub of the English-speaking Caribbean. With digitalized systems, you could register a business in Trinidad in three business days.
Trinidad comprises a truly unique blend of races, cultures, and religious beliefs that can be linked back to its African, Indian, British, Chinese, Middle-Eastern, Amerindian, French, Spanish and Portuguese origins. Wow! What a ‘mix up’. It’s no surprise that one-quarter of the Trinidad population is made up of douglas (people of mixed races). It’s the one of the few places where you could find an Indian person with a French surname or a Black person with a Chinese last name. Trinidad is truly a melting pot.
The cultural blend that exists in Trinidad, cannot be found elsewhere in the world. Consider that Trinidad’s culture is a mix of influences from Africa, India, England, Europe, China, Middle East. This mixture is reflected in the music, art, food, festivals, holidays, and the Trini way of life.
Where else in the world can you find a black man singing an Indian bhajan or a Chinese guy with the surname “Singh”? There are Muslim festivals (Hosay and Eid al Fitr) celebrated by Hindus or Hindu celebrations observed by Christians (Phagwa and Divali). And it’s more than mere celebrations or observances. It’s a way of life that’s all about inclusiveness.
Trinidad is known for its rich deposits of oil and natural gas. The energy sector is big business here. But the real energy that makes Trinidad an exceptional place is not the energy in the ground but the energy of its people.
You can truly feel the energy of Trinidadians. Trinis are a happy, warm and friendly bunch. They are lively, energetic and know how to ‘shit talk’ better than anyone. Just visit any rum shop or pub and you’d get a sense of the energy of Trinidadians – bright smiling faces, gesticulating hands, eruption of laughter, and a spew of words that only another Trini could comprehend.
Trinidadians pull out all of the stops to welcome a visitor into their homes. And they give a true authentic, local flavour to hospitality. They’d take you to a rum shop or better yet, a lime by the river where you can drink rum, eat curry duck cooked on a coal pot and ‘shit talk’ like a Trini. Get a taste of local street food such as Doubles, phoulorie or bake and shark. Go on a hike to one of the local attractions like the Devil’s Woodyard or the Temple in the Sea.
The mix of peoples, culture and religions create a festivals landscape in Trinidad that cannot be found elsewhere. Wine and gyrate to soca music for Carnival. Fast and pray with ashes on Ash Wednesday. Celebrate Eid al Fitr. Smear colourful powders and liquid all over your friends for Phagwa. Light up your neighbourhood with diyas for Divali. Parade the streets in African garb for Emancipation Day. Join in the procession in the capital for Corpus Christi.
Trinidad Carnival is more than a show, an event, a fete, or a festival. Trinidad Carnival is an entire season that runs from Christmas to Ash Wednesday. Unlike many other carnivals, with TRINIDAD carnival, anyone can be a participant. Join a band, throw on some paint, or dab your body with mud and you too, can be in the show. The season is dotted with a number of events. There are dozens of fetes (parties), competitions and concerts to enjoy. The fast, rhythmic vibrations of soca music bring carnival to life. Gyrating hips, swinging bottoms, pumping fists, waving flags, stamping feet, and bobbing headpieces are all symptoms of this infectious music. That is Trini carnival – the greatest show on earth.
Trinidad is not only known for its Carnival. It is fast becoming an ecotourism hotspot. With its wealth of wetlands, waterfalls, wildlife, wood, wind (and women), Trinidad is a nature lover’s paradise. Watch the bright, red Scarlet Ibis soar over the Caroni Swamp. Visit the bubbling mud volcano at Devil’s Woodyard (rated among the top ten in the world). Take a dip in the never-ending pitch lake, La Brea. Rappel off of the over two-dozen water falls such as Rio Seco, Rincon or Paria waterfalls. Take a dip in some of the best beaches on the island such as Maracas, Las Cuevas, Columbus Bay or Vessigny. Lime by one of the 40 rivers.
When you think of Trinidad, one of the first things that come to mind is the food. The fusion of cultural influences has impacted the flavour profiles of Trinidad’s local dishes, whether it is Indian cuisine, African-based dishes, Chinese, or Syrian, Trinis tend to add a local flair and flavour that create a unique and interesting taste. From crab and callaloo to corn soup, pelau, roti, chow, punch-a-crème, sorrel, and oil down, whatever the dish, Trinis add their culinary stamp to it.
When you ask a visitor what they loved most about Trinidad, the #1 point is typically the people. Combine that with great food, a generally happy and laid back atmosphere, an amazing culture and great things to see and do and you get a recipe that makes it near impossible to want to leave this piece of paradise on Earth.
Despite its amazing tourism assets, Trinidad appears to be the land that tourism forgot – no mass tourism. In fact, no tourism really. And this is because of the importance of the energy sector (oil and natural gas) that provides well over 90% of export earnings. This is unlike other islands of the Caribbean whether sugar, bananas, cocoa, coffee, bauxite and other exports have literally disappeared, replaced by tourism, as the main foreign exchange earner.
So don’t be surprised when you visit Trinidad that you are the only tourist. This augurs well for a truly local and totally authentic experience.
Kevon Wilson, is a premier researcher and strategist. He has more than 16 years’ experience in research and digital marketing.
He is co-author of many of Leve Global’s research publications such as Big Data – Delivering the Big Picture to Drive Competitiveness, Everything You Need to Know About Internet Marketing, and The Top Ten Emerging Markets.