Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trinidad- Our amazing host family

We are not going to lie. To say that we were nervous about visiting Trinidad and Tobago after hearing warnings from everyone we spoke to (many former or current residents) would be an understatement. As you would imagine, arriving in a new country on January 1st has some logistical problems. After our arrival we didn't set foot outside for nearly 3 hours while we tried to gather as much information as we could about where to stay and how to get there safely and affordably. In 2008 alone there were over 600 murders in Trinidad. This is not a good record for an island of 1.3 million people.

Trinidad is not very well set up for tourists. The public transportation is difficult to figure out without a sound knowledge of the island's geography and how the system works. We found an affordable hostel near the airport which sent us a driver. Once safe in our hostel room we were relieved that we had not been kidnapped or robbed by the driver, something which is a real danger. The driver turned out to be extremely friendly and welcoming but he too had horror stories about his young daughter being kidnapped as well as other cautionary tales. At this point we were considering getting out of Trinidad as soon as possible.

On our second day we spent the entire day at the airport researching travel options. All the flights to Venezuela were fully booked for the next week and well above our budget. The ferry to Venezuela which was more in line with our budget departed once a week on Wednesday mornings.

Many of the places we wanted to visit on Trinidad were well off the Maxitaxi routes and it was actually cheaper to rent a car for a day than to get driven to them in a taxi. Given the stories we had been told we felt this was also a safer option. After renting the car we headed off in search of the house of a person who we had arranged to couchsurf with.

We cannot express how happy we were when we pulled into the driveway of our couchsurfing hosts. Our hosts were a large family of over 10 people. This family went above and beyond to make us feel completely at home in Trinidad. They fed us and helped us to get to all the places we wanted to see. The people in this family were some of the most genuinely kind people we have ever met. We stayed with them for almost a week and they made our time in Trinidad memorable and enjoyable.

Parang singers who came to the house to perform on our first night.

The Kids

basketball in the living room

Maracas Beach

bake and shark

Richard's famous Bake and Shark at Maracas beach

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