A Note from the Editor
Welcome to T&T, the New York of the Caribbean. Here lives the happiest man alive, Machel Montano. And it’s no idle boast by the soca superstar, whose mega-hit of the same name captures the glorious exuberance and insouciant rhythm of our people. The 1.3 million inhabitants of this larger-than-life, surround-sound, technicolour, too-rich-for-its-own-good oil and gas republic love to eat, dance, laugh and enjoy life to the max. Plus, we have one of the sexiest accents in the world. (And I’m not saying that just because I’m a Trini; Gallup Inc and CNN actually carried out these international polls in 2012.)
Trinidad and Tobago, broken-off bits of the South American mainland, are among the richest islands in the world. In addition to large offshore deposits of natural gas, the largest natural deposit of asphalt and hundreds of species of plants, flowers and animals, the northeast coast of Trinidad is also the largest nesting ground in the western hemisphere of the Giant Leatherback Turtle (some bigger than a car).
T&T, as we are known around the region, are among the most bio-diverse places in the world. You have only to sit in a garden, even in suburban neighbourhoods like Trincity and Diego Martin, and you will see what appear to be pieces of the sky shoot past (blue-grey tanagers) and flashes of the deepest saffron (cornbirds). Trinidad’s fertile soil has yielded the hottest pepper in the world (Moruga scorpion); the finest cocoa (Trinitario) and hundreds of varieties of ferns, orchids, bromeliads, bamboo and hardwoods.
This remarkable little republic, covering less than 2,000 square miles, has produced the only new acoustic instrument of the 20th century, the steel pan; one of the greatest living writers, VS Naipaul; the socialist intellectual and cricket writer CLR James; the world-record holder for most Test runs in cricket, Brian Lara; one of the leaders of the Black Panthers and the US civil rights movement, Stokely Carmichael; the first Black Miss Universe, Janelle Commissiong; and (for the first five years of her life anyway) Nicki Minaj. (See more national heroes and icons here)
The people who call these islands home are an intoxicating blend of Amerindian, African, European, Asian and Middle Eastern bloodlines – reflections of the incredible vitality of their land. The First Peoples called it Iere, land of the hummingbird. Seventeen species of this mystical acrobat are among the 474 species of birds seen here, flitting among the scandalously colourful flowers and feeding on our heavenly fruits.
The most wonderful thing about Trinbagonians, though, is the way we live life – to the very fullest. We eat well, we party hearty, and we love a good lime (Trini talk for hanging out – be it at the beach, in the backyard or by the corner bar). Nobody can dance quite like us; we do things with our hips that beguile and bewilder the virgin ‘winer’. It is, in many ways, our number one coping mechanism.
Required listening (to understand the power of soca)
Click on the links to enjoy the songs’ official music videos! For further enlightenment, watch Sonja Dumas’ TedX lecture, ‘The Hip as a Weapon’, on YouTube, which explains how to wine.
- Possessed (Machel Montano and Kerwin DuBois,
featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo)
- Raise Your hands and Leh Go (Roy Cape All Stars and Blaxx)
- Differentology (Bunji Garlin)
- Truck on de Road (Bunji Garlin)
- Wotless (Kes the Band)
- Happiest Man Alive (Machel Montano)
— Nazma Muller
Editor, Discover Trinidad & Tobago 2015 (issue #26)
The Discover Trinidad & Tobago Team (2014–15)
- Editor (print): Nazma Muller
- Editor (online): Caroline Taylor
- Consulting Editor: Jeremy Taylor
- Design: Bridget van Dongen
- Layout artist: Kevon Webster
- Sales: Yuri Chin Choy
- Editorial & Design Assistant: Cindy Lavia
- Production: Joanne Mendes, Jacqueline Smith
- General Manager: Halcyon Salazar
- Financial Director: Joanne Mendes.
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Written by Discover Trinidad & Tobago