Today I leave for Trinidad and Tobago (TT), I started my morning with Starbucks and a list of items to pack. By this, I mean that I made a list and then packed far more than I should have. With the knowledge that I will be in TT for just under a month, I packed an entire bag of clothes for the various occasions including service projects, internships, formal dinners, beach-going, walking through town, and nightlife. Aside from the first bag I also packed a second bag that contained hygiene/skincare products, makeup and hair styling supplies, various medications, vitamins, study supplies, and miscellaneous necessities. I realized early on that I had packed too much stuff, but by then it was too late, I was on my way. After spending the morning and early afternoon packing I ran my last minute errands before the trip and got dinner at Sushi Konami, one of my favorite sushi restaurants in Washington. I had a Dragon roll and an Amazing California roll, which is a fried California roll. As always, it was delicious. My arrival at the airport was around 5:30 in the evening, where I checked in, acquired my boarding pass, and checked my luggage with the American Airlines teller. It was from there that I proceeded through security and to my gate where I met up with the rest of my group from school for the trip. I read the book ‘A Small Place’ by Jamaica Kincaid, which was about her childhood in Antigua and her impressions of tourism, especially that of white tourists from the West and colonizing nations. While it was a quick read and very well-written, I did feel that some parts of it were a bit extreme and read more like a rant than a dialogue. Either way, it was a thought-provoking read and I would encourage others to take an hour or two out of their day and read the novel.
We boarded our flight to Miami at around 8:45 in the evening and I started the night by watching ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ a film starring John David Washington as Ron Stallworth, the first black police officer of the Colorado Springs Department. He manages to infiltrate the Colorado Springs chapter of the KKK using another officer as a doppelganger. The movie was absolutely phenomenal and I would happily watch it again. I slept through the last half of the five and a half hour flight to Miami, the first stop in our trek. In Miami, we had about a two-hour layover before our connecting flight from Miami to the Port of Spain in Trinidad. We were located at gate D34, and so I got breakfast at Einstein's Bagels which was near D28. I ate the asiago bagel with the garlic and herb spread, which I thought was one of the most delicious breakfasts I had had in a long while and wish I had purchased some of those bagels to take into TT. We boarded our flight at around 9 o'clock, only to be informed that there was an issue with a mechanism on the nose of the plane that they attempted to repair with us aboard for two hours before deplaning at 11:15. The airline provided a variety of beverages and snacks. We reboarded about half an hour later and the rest of the flight went smoothly. This was relatively without stress because awaiting us at the Port of Spain was a seven-hour layover, shortened by two and a half hours by this delay in Miami. Had we had less of a layover this would have been more frustrating. The flight to Port of Spain was about four and a half hours and we arrived at 4:20. We grabbed our bags, went through customs, and then the Tobagoan security checkpoint before checking our bags and getting our boarding passes from Caribbean Airlines. Because I had two suitcases there was a bit of a hassle, the limit is one so you must pay for the extra kilograms, they sent me to the other end of the airline desk area where there were separate Caribbean Airlines staff. They charged me approx $10 in American and gave me a receipt, which I then had to take back across the airport to get my boarding pass. Following this I got $300TT from an ATM, which is about $50, I was also charged a $5 ATM fee. Because of this I would recommend getting $500TT when withdrawing money. There wasn't much to do at the Trinidadian airport, though there were some local food trucks in the area. I tried doubles, a local dish which had a flatbread base with chickpeas in a spicy creamy sauce, not unlike curry. I believe this is an adaptation of Indian cuisine, given the knowledge that there is a large Indian population on the islands. It was delicious, with a mild spicy taste but a lasting heat that smoked the back of your throat. The entire dish was coated in flavor. I also had a local fruit punch, which was very sweet, but also incredibly refreshing. It was also only natural flavors and sugar. When we finally boarded our 9:15 flight from Trinidad to Tobago it was only a twenty-minute flight. We took a bus from the airport to our guesthouse, crowding and stacking our suitcases in the aisle of the bus because we had filled the seats with bodies. We arrived at Isabel’s guesthouse in Bacolet to find it locked. As a plan B, we began walking the less than half a mile to a nearby hotel. Unfortunately, this hotel did not have enough space for our party of 20+, but thankfully the owners of Isabel's guesthouse, our residence for most of the month, came back and unlocked the doors. We were able to organize ourselves, choosing rooms and unpacking some of our luggage before midnight. Finally, by the end of this 30-hour ordeal, I fell into bed and slept like a rock.