Blessed Land, Part Two

Pigtail and macaroni pie. Corn soup and doubles. Cane sugar juice. And it was still quiet: 7pm. We’d followed our friend Chrissana’s advice – hey Chrissana:) and headed toward the Savannah on Saturday night for street food.

We’d tried to do the same thing a week before. Defeated by Tropical Storm Karen. This time traffic was light on the road. No pouring showers. We headed through the neighbourhoods into the city. First, you come out of the yachting area, Chaguaramas. It’s quiet and jungly. The water clings to you on the right side. After the stretch of boatyards, there’s a large basin where over a hundred boats are anchored. Port-of-Spain rises up in the distance as if it’s anchored too.

You pass a theme park being built on the site of old waste land. We’ve been watching its building progress for three years now. There’s colourful plastic water flumes and a long and still-dry lazy river. It’s easy to see how it’ll soon be splashing with liming Trinis. Then the whole leisure park curves round to a beach of sorts. Jack gets tempted with the idea of swimming here. He’s keen to continue his swimming training from home. It’s usually as calm as a swimming pool here too – but we always talk him out of it. Big ships moor to a pontoon just to the side of the beach. All of the bay ends at this one beach. Hmmm. We tell him to wait till Quest is in the water.

Past here, there’s houses all the way to the city, even though there’s still a semblance of passing hamlet towns. The Carenage is striking. You have big houses nestled up in the hills – their swathes of fancy white and glass beaming like planets – but a lot of the town below is clapboard. Potholed. An open-air fishmongers stands by the side of the road. A dozen people mill round the fish. Some of them are here for the long-haul. They sit in chairs under the large awning, fanning themselves. There’s a shed that sells lottery cards and fruit. A mechanic’s shop squeezed into a tiny plot. A bar itself protected by metal bars.

On weekdays, we often drive past when school ends. Then the neighbourhood is full of colourful school uniforms and people turning down streets. You pass the sign for ‘Star Dust Pan Theatre’. A steel pan in drawn on the sign with an arrow. I always look down this street with a yearning pang. Drumming away with musical harmony, getting ready for Carnival every year. After all, Trinidad’s carnival is the biggest and most famous in the Caribbean. People get really serious about it. Coming home, we passed the University of Trinidad and Tobago. A large poster hangs on the gate, promoting an honours degree in Carnival Studies.

‘Whoever does that degree is a legend,’ Lulu announced in response.

Feathers in the classroom? The music and the dancing? I think she has a point. Trinidad definitely agrees.

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