A tour of Tobago

This was a lazy morning, working on homework on the balcony in the sun and the early morning breeze. We departed at ten that morning for an island tour with plans to drive around the entire island, about a four to five-hour drive when done straight through.

Our first stop was in Plymouth at Fort James, a small edifice created from stone and coral as a barracks in the mid-1700s. While the sight was beautiful, the overlook onto Great Courland Bay was better. Panoramic views of the water, the mountains, and the gorgeous scenery.

We then stopped at the nearby ‘Mystery Tombstone.’ So known for the riddle written at the bottom of the stone, ‘What was remarkable of her? She was a mother without knowing it. A wife without letting her husband know of it, except by her kind indulgences to him.’ The story goes that the woman died in childbirth and so did not know motherhood with a child out of wedlock and had never been intimate with her husband and so he did not know her as a wife. You won’t find this story at the tombstone itself and I only know it because a local told me the tale.

The last major stop on our drive around the island was at Mt. Dillon Lookout, a hike up a hill which oversaw a view that got better and better the further you went. It was one of the most gorgeous views on the island thus far and a perfect photo opportunity. I would highly recommend stopping and taking photos here, the walk is mild with lots of opportunities to sit.

We ate lunch at Jemma’s Treehouse in Speyside where I tried goat for the first time. Alongside the goat were served family-style sides of fried plantains, Caribbean rice, steamed vegetables, baked mac and cheese, and chickpeas. The goat was prepared in a curry and had some of the bones alongside the meat so be careful not to eat too rapidly. The dish was delicious though it was difficult to taste the flavor of the meat through the competing flavors in the curry. It was a kind of red meat that I would compare most closely to beef, it was not as rich as filet mignon but a similar texture in how it was cooked. I’m interested to see how I like goat in other dishes seeing as I can only relate it to this dish thus far.

I began to think about benches as a symbol of the culture in a place. In Tobago there were benches everywhere, they were in the places that had a view, the places where you might sit and look and relax in the place that you are in and enjoy it, but there were also benches in places that seemed strange - like two that faced each other at a traffic median. In Tobago the culture is outside, it is about community and relationships, it is about living in the present rather than constantly planning for the future. I also thought about benches in America. Benches that have dividers, that isolate a person to their own space, and the same time prevent the homeless from sharing in that space in the community. In America the priorities are different and the benches clearly reflect a difference in the value of people in Tobago versus a priority on productivity in America. We do not take the time to sit and contemplate the view because in our minds we’re busy getting stuff done, but it’s a good idea to stop and remember that the view and the people are what we’re doing this for.

The final arm of our tour around the coast of Tobago was a brief hour-long drive from Speyside to Bacolet. We got back at around five o’clock that evening and I worked on journaling and homework before getting ready for Sunday School at Pigeon Point. Now, I know what you’re thinking, Sunday School? Like church and preaching and psalms? Not quite. This was a party that started in the evening and went well into the night. We left our guesthouse at nine and arrived at pigeon point twenty minutes later, there was a small crowd of people notably most of them were white, which is unique for the island which is densely populated by people of color. The beginning of the night felt very tourist-y, but seeing as we were tourists as well as students the entertainment was certainly still entertaining. There was a very talented steel drum band, and three women who performed limbo with a stick that was on fire. There were also games, and if you wandered around the back of the pavilion that the weekly event takes place in you’ll find food, art vendors, clubs, and sometimes crafts. I got a hammerhead shark bake from a food truck around the back and it was regrettably delicious, regrettable because I love sharks. It tasted like a buttery fish, it was tender and almost melted in your mouth as you ate. The sandwich was massive and only cost $35TT, which is about $6US. I also got a mango smoothie from Quench, a small shop not unlike Jamba Juice that had fresh frozen fruit and you could add protein or vegetable options if you wanted a balaned meal. It was creamy and thick and delicious and entirely satisfied my cravings for sugar. Were I in charge of my own itinerary I would gladly drive there every morning for a fresh smoothie for breakfast. It was also $35TT and was between 16-20oz.

We wandered around to different craft shops along the road, there was a souvenir store just across the street, an artist who had set up his paintings along the fence, and a woman selling local handmade candies in the pavilion. I bought a couple local kinds of candy for $20TT and made plans to return and purchase a large painting. As soon as I saw it I fell in love, it was the kind of painting that encapsulated a place, that could hold your memories and make you remember why someplace was so beautiful. It made my heart ache just to look at it and I knew I couldn’t leave without it, though this was no cheap piece of art. It was one-of-a-kind, handmade, and massive, and it was $2050TT. This was not a painting that I could buy with the cash in my purse.

We spent the rest of the night dancing in the pavilion and as the night got later the music got better and there was a visible change in the people that were there for the night life versus the tourists there for the evening. It was another in a long line of amazing, breathtaking days.

Left at 11:30 for Bacolet.

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