An ode to contemporary Trinidad
Location, location, location…
Trinidad’s uniqueness comes from its hybridity, its history, and its geography. From its very beginnings, as part of the South American mainland, it has been unique. Thousands of species thrive in the lush Northern and Central Ranges, while the south is continually invaded by animals washed down from the Orinoco in Venezuela, or in transit, as in the case of migratory birds.
Bursting with life
This island’s vibrancy will take your breath away, especially after it rains. The place seethes with life – flowers in sidewalks, bromeliads on electricity wires, birds everywhere. This tiny island (a mere 60km by 80km) is host to the most number of species for its size in the West Indies: over 100 species of mammals; close to 500 recorded species of birds; 55 reptiles; 25 amphibians; and 617 butterflies. Few places in the world match Trinidad for biodiversity.
We mean business
Its oil, gas, petrochemical and manufacturing industries make Trinidad the centre of attraction for commerce and trade in the region, as well as migration. Dubbed the Dubai of the Caribbean, much of the island’s infrastructure is modern, with a growing and extensive road network, a fairly efficient (though mostly ad hoc) public transport system, good telecommunication services, and easy access to free WiFi.
Trinidad’s DNA pool includes First Peoples, European, African, Indian, Chinese and Syrian-Lebanese genes. This exposure to so many cultures and religions makes Trinis among the most hospitable hosts you will ever find. Quite a few have dazzled the world, including CLR James, cricket writer and socialist philosopher, Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul, the first black Miss Universe Janelle “Penny” Commissiong, Black Panthers activist Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), broadcaster Trevor McDonald, cricket legend Brian Lara, dancer and actor Geoffrey holder, dancer and singer Heather Headley, and rapper Nicki Minaj.
Recent influxes of Chinese, Venezuelans, Dominic Republicans, Colombians, Cubans, Nigerians, Syrians and Brits have joined the legions of traditional migrants from nearby Guyana, St Vincent and Grenada to make the cities and even rural towns across the island incredibly cosmopolitan. Don’t be surprised by the number of foreign accents and languages you hear!
Birthplace of the steelpan
This is the home of the only acoustic instrument invented in the 20th century, the steelpan. After the British colonial authorities banned the beating of African drums, the working class turned to the drums in which oil was stored. This is also the birthplace of calypso and soca, the limbo dance and the ‘wine’.
Written by Nazma Muller