February 2024: On what was my 2nd time to Trinidad and what was meant to be a full day and night in Trinidad was reduced to just one night because of a flight delay from Saint Lucia. Thus, unfortunately ruined my trip to an abandoned cold war era military radar station in the jungle. Instead, my nephew and friend Jimmie hired an airport taxi to take us around the city to explore its street food scene and to visit one of the many pan yards where musicians that play the steel drum play and practice for competitions that are held throughout the Caribbean and in this case, they were practicing for the Carnival that was only a few days away.

 

 

About Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the wealthiest Caribbean countries due to its oil and gas industry. This also makes it one of the most expensive countries to visit in the Caribbean. Trinidad was a British colony before achieving its independence and is English speaking. Like many of the countries in the area, the population consists of many descendants of African slaves that were brought to British colonies to work the many plantation farms on the island of Trinidad. Now days Trinidad despite its wealth also has a lot of poverty and Port of Spain has one of the highest crime rates in the Caribbean and some neighborhoods are no go zones for tourists according to our taxi driver.

 

 

Trinidad and Tobago

Street Food Scene

Unfortunately, Trinidad has a thriving American fast-food scene (MacDonalds, KFC…) due to all of the influence of American businesses and at times I felt like I could be in Florida. But there is also an incredible street food scene that is rich with a diversity of foods from all over the world due to the many immigrants from South Asia, East Asia, and the middle east that have brought their cuisine and mixed it with Caribbean and African ones. We asked our taxi driver to take us to some of these places where we sampled some of the various foods and of course some local rum too.

 

 

Dylan trying some street food

South Asian street food 

Steel Drum Music

No music is more ubiquitous to the Caribbean than the relaxing sounds of the steel drum. The steel drum is known as the only instrument that became internationally widespread and developed in the 19th century. Before the trip I read that there are many pan yards or schools where musicians from local neighborhoods go to learn and perfect their skills at playing the steel drum. The pan yards are usually in neighborhoods that poor, and these are places where residents gather to watch the music and support one another. Food and drinks are usually served, and attendance is free. I asked our taxi driver to find one and we pulled up to one where live practice was taking place for the carnival where there was a small gathering of local resident spectators in the bleachers.

 

 

Pan yard practice 

Pan yard full of local spectators

Steel drum band practice for carnival 

We stayed the night in a local apartment rental and the next morning we departed to my last country 197/197 Saint Kitts and Nevis.

 

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