I don’t know what to say we’re doing when we book a trip to Trinidad and Tobago. I was born and raised there, so for most of the nine years I’ve been living in England, I’ve called it “home”. We’ve just got back from two weeks there and it felt strange to tell friends beforehand that we were “going home”.
My children hardly know the place and I’ve no idea whether they’ll ever live there. Laurence is from the West Country. T&T is certainly not his home. I moved here when I was nineteen. Virtually my whole adult life has been spent here. If we were to move there, I’d probably have as much to learn as any of us would.
So, I wasn’t prepared to fight back tears as we stepped off the plane in Piarco International Airport, walking through to security. “It’s like I forget this place exists when I’m over there,” I told Laurence, my accent already beginning to slip back, as he predicted it would. It happens every time.
But this wasn’t like the other times. I didn’t feel the rush of relief when the plane landed, like I was suddenly in a safe place, a country I understood. It was more sentimentality than homecoming. Realising that made me a little sad. I suppose it’s inevitable. The longer we stay here, the more roots we put down here and the further back Trinidad and Tobago gets filed in my personal history.
Before Laurence, my goals for going back were simple. I was in a frenzy to see everyone, family and friends. It was always university holidays so I’d try to pick up the odd bit of work here and there. Now, it’s mainly boiled down to spending time with my parents and drinking in the country I took for granted, growing up.
Here’s a bit of what we got up to this time while out there.
We ate our body weight in mangoes. Well, Talitha could not be convinced to try them or anything else local. I tried (hard) not to take it personally.
She was, however, fascinated with the tiny creatures who welcome themselves into Caribbean homes.
The highlight of our trip was a stay at Sanctuary Villas Resort in Tobago. I loved it so much, in fact, that I’ll be blogging about it soon.
Visiting Tobago allowed us to try out Castara Bay. The water is so calm and makes for gorgeous swimming. It’s a postcard beach. We’ll certainly be back.
We also tried out a beach forty minutes from San Fernando in Trinidad since that’s where my parents live. I’m still not clear on whether it’s called Guapo or Clifton Hill. There seems to be a disagreement on this. I was desperate for a last dip in the sea and Talitha had a good play on the sand. It was nice enough but not particularly a beach I’d go out of my way for.
I think my mother (pictured here) may have found it amusing that we wanted to go to a Sunday market. There was so much colour and such a great buzz running through the stalls but it took living “away” for me to see how fascinating these places are.
Our trip happened to coincide with Independence Day – great fun as we got to see some pretty impressive fireworks. The media was filled with talk of the nation’s identity, which was particularly stirring to read at a time when I was mulling over my own.
I don’t think there’s ever going to be a time when Trinidad and Tobago is non-essential to how I understand the world and myself. There’s never truly going to be a time where it’s not, on some level, home.