What I learned in Trinidad

Last week I was in Trinidad, just off the coast of South America. I was speaking at the BDC’s Innovation to Income conference and took a few extra days for fun.

It’s an interesting place – since most tourists head over to the quiet, beautiful neighboring island of Tobago, Trinidad itself isn’t an easy place to be a tourist. The capital city of Port of Spain is tough, crime is a problem, and there are few true tourist attractions, nor info centers or tourist desks that I could find. But that made it real travel – I had a most interesting time walking around the core downtown area (Indi Square). It was the first time in awhile I went somewhere impossible not to stand out as a foreigner (80+% of the population is of African or Indian decent, and I’m of neither), which was a thrill.

Here’s what I learned:

  • A continent can look like an island if you are an idiot. From my hotel pool I asked one of the staff “what is that island in the distance” and was told “That? That’s south America”.
  • The Hyatt Regency is a fantastic hotel with one the best pool I’ve ever seen. It’s outdoors on the 4th floor and is lined up so the pool horizon matches the actual horizon. Fantastic.
  • Local lingo: Limin’ = to hang out. BamBam = your rear end. Boof = to insult or yell at someone.
  • Fried shark is a delicacy. Up at the beautiful Maracas beach I tried what’s called Bake ‘n Shark, which is fried shark on a sandwich with various toppings like garlic sauce (yum).
  • You can buy aged Rum – and it’s quite good. I had no idea Rum could be a premium alcohol (like Scotch), with 8, 10 and 15 year aged versions of premium brands.
  • A roti is not just bread, as i assumed from having had it at Malay Satay in Seattle. Here the roti is the container for various stuffings. Roti shops are basically like us sandwich shops.
  • KFC is extremely popular here. Vaguely like McDonald’s was in Moscow. Long lines.
  • Obama has made the US popular again, at least here. Walking on the street at Independence square, total strangers asked me if I was American, and if I said yes, they’d happily yell Obama! and shake my hand


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