We are Trinis – so we are limers. In a nutshell, here’s how to “buss a lime” in Trinidad
It’s strange that the word “lime”, as it is used in Trinidad & Tobago, up the islands and through the diaspora, is absent from most of the world’s leading dictionaries (New Oxford American excepted). “Liming” is doing anything at all in company. Its closest English-language equivalent is the American “hanging out”. You can lime with one person on a trip downtown to buy new shoes. You can lime with a group of friends at a party (where you will meet new people with whom to lime). You can lime cosily over coffee at a café.
The main thing to keep in mind is the spirit of the thing: an unquestioned acceptance that things are more fun when done with some congenial others, with room for spontaneity. It is not, as some have suggested, the art of doing nothing. Far from it. It is how to turn any and everything you do into an opportunity for a good time.
De Avenue (Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook)…and environs
Ariapita Avenue runs through the middle of Woodbrook, a once genteel sort of residential area west of Port of Spain. On the Avenue at least, all pretence of quiet family life has been quite lost. This is Trinidad’s answer to Montego Bay’s Hip Strip, with its profusion of fine restaurants (Creole, Italian, Asian, and sushi), casinos, members’ clubs, bars and lounges. The entire strip is lined with bars, restaurants, street food and very, very trendy crowds out for a night of partying and liming. Once it’s not raining, chances are there’ll be as much going on on the sidewalk as in the bar. On Friday and Saturday nights, the massive crowds of after-work office workers turn the sidewalks into street parties. Many a business deal is hammered out on these nights (well, the participants get hammered, if nothing else). After all is said and drunk, the night usually ends with a visit to one of the many street vendors selling doubles, corn soup, burgers, gyros, gourmet waffles, barbecue pig tail… the menu is constantly growing and changing. One never knows what one will find for sale on ‘De Avenue’.
Western Main Road
For a slightly less boisterous experience, tapas bars and lounges can be found in and around Woodbrook. Not five minutes away, further west, the Western Main Road in St James offers a less shnazz but even more populous liming area. A less salubrious hip strip, it offers the quintessential Trini rumshop experience (like Smokey & Bunty’s). The street food is just as tasty and varied as on the Avenue, with beef roti, chicken foot souse, jerk pork and ‘ital vitals’ among the offerings. Here the bars are more functional than fancy: you want a drink, they sell drinks. St James if our official-unofficial city-that-never-sleeps. The music is loud, the carousing is of the gritty variety, the street food is the best in the country. And. Everyone. Goes. There. You’ll run into everyone from the person you bought fruit from that morning to ministers of state.
The Queen’s Park Oval, home of the Prince of Port of Spain
Many an expat in Trinidad can tell tales of being drunk on the Avenue or walking back to the Hyatt and somebody will stop and a familiar voice will say, ‘Boy, I go drop you back to the hotel. Glowing white man like you walking downtown – I doh want to read ’bout you in de papers tomorrow nuh.’ It turns out to be the fella who sat next to them at a cricket match in the Oval. Twenty20 cricket has brought a new wave of fans to the game. And the Trini penchant for befriending the fella sitting next to them often leads to a lifetime friendship – or certainly for cricket limes. Numerous sports bars and lounges in and around Port of Spain are popular hangouts for locals and expats. The rum shops and less salubrious bars in St James are also great places to feel the pulse of the people. Trinis love to discuss politics – local, regional and international, and with just about everyone digitally connected, conversations are anything but predictable.
Martin’s – Trinidad’s Cheers
This cosy little piano bar on Woodford Street in Port of Spain is a venerated liming institution. Its owner, the eponymous Martin, is himself a living archive of local knowledge. A great raconteur and wine lover, he has been regaling patrons – at various locations around Newtown, Port of Spain – for more than 20 years. The staff, who have been with Martin forever, treat customers like family. And the food is excellent. Reasonably priced delicious lunches – which can be served in the open-air courtyard or indoors in an air conditioned dining area – are ideal if you’re on a budget. The callaloo is heavenly. If you’re in luck, you may be treated to a live performance of old school calypso or jazz. www.facebook.com/martinspianobar
“Past D Lighthouse”
Out of Port of Spain, it’s harder to find dedicated liming zones. In San Fernando and Chaguanas, for instance, in south and central Trinidad respectively, there are clubs and restaurants aplenty but not concentrated in one area. So too in St Augustine and Trincity in the east. Over the past few years, the night clubs of those areas have been upping their game, achieving a tough feat: they’re getting Port of Spain partiers to head out of town for their entertainment. Think about: live entertainment. Almost anywhere you go, you’ll find good music and lots of variety. But a live band, local, and one that plays originals and not only covers, is definitely a treat to look out for.
Important: If you’ve rented a car, be sure to obey parking guidelines or risk being towed by the police.