Day 24 – 28 – The Caribbean
The Caribbean – the land of myths, of pirates, rum, slavery, sugar, plantations, wealth and poverty; the land of turquoise warm seas, beach holidays and too many rum punches; a series of islands thrown up by volcanic upheaval or accretion from where two tectonic plates clash; a set of islands fought over by the French and British; the land of Creole, Reggae, Steel Bands, Calypso, cricket and ganga.
Fortunately, we did not meet any pirates – never the pleasant characters of Hollywood – more a bunch of cruel, stinking, disease-ridden, scum who’d kill you as soon as look at you. Neither did we encounter any reggae, cricket, calypso or ganga. But we did find some steel bands, folk dance (of African origin) and some Creole! And we did get a good look around our four islands to see the landscape, people and wildlife, experience the sea, try the food and rum punch, and dig the vibe.
I was up with the sun, taking a tea on deck, enjoying the warm breeze as a pair of frigate birds piloted us into harbour. It looked cloudy and the land was low-lying and unspectacular.
We were off for a day out in Scarborough like no other day trip to Scarborough we’d ever had.
Boarding a bus, we set off to discover the highlights.
That started well – the fort overlooking the bay was testimony to the bitter fighting that took place over the islands. There was much money to be made! Slaves and sugar! Much blood was spilled and fortunes made as the British aristocracy fought (using us) to get their share. The fort was now very picturesque with its gun emplacements, armoury and loads of cannons. There were massive trees adorned with epiphytes, flowers and a beautiful little crested bird.
After that it was a little downhill. Tobago does not have much in the way of splendid scenery or grand architecture. There is a lot of poverty with young men and women trying to sell trinkets, fruit or veg and looking rather despondent.
We saw the little wooden chattel houses, often gaily painted, that ordinary people lived in. There were more trees, some pelicans, a few other birds, some nice beaches, and that was in. We knew it was not going to be spectacular when the airport featured high up on the highlights.
Walking around in Scarborough in the searing heat felt a bit edgy with nowhere to go apart from the bars.
We were a little underwhelmed.
However, we did get to sample the rum punch, see some amazing folk dance and a fabulous steel drum band. One of the dances involved bashing great bamboo poles together while dancers bobbed or jumped in and out putting their heads and limbs at risk of serious crushing – made our Morris Dancing look a bit tame!
In the customs office there were some paintings of scenes from long ago. I could just imagine. They were a little romanticised!