January 29, 2006

Exploring the Port of Spain
Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago

Andy and I spent about five hours today exploring the Port of Spain, trying to get a better feel for the town while looking for cheaper and more exciting accommodations located closer a few travel agencies.

I can't believe what a big deal people are making about this city regarding the crime. Trinidad is a very clean, modern country, and the Port of Spain is actually just an average, medium size city (albeit pretty bleak and boring). Andy said it reminds him of Panama City with the reputation of New Orleans. I honestly think that the tourists are just afraid of black people. Bars on buildings and black people intimidate a lot of people.

Yellow Route Maxi Taxi

The minibus (maxi taxi) infrastructure here is safe and very inexpensive (a ride from our place in Chaguaramas to the center of the Port of Spain costs $5 TT, or about 80 cents). If you don't get gouged by a tourist taxi, they can be very affordable as well (perhaps 50 cents to be driven to a 10 minute destination).

It was a Sunday, and the entire city was practically shut down. We spent the bulk of our time unsuccessfully roaming the areas around a small list of guesthouses and motels that I had collected off of the Internet. We were in the right spots, but were both really surprised with the complete lack of affordable, backpacker friendly, places to stay. This city could be really rough for a solo traveler trying to keep costs down. Most rooms started around $60 US, with cheapie places that you find by talking to locals at around $30–40. I commented to Andy that I think this place doesn't see backpacks, it sees suitcases.

Tomorrow I'm going to try and hold the tears back as I talk to a travel agent and find out how expensive a flight into Brazil is going to be. If I wasn't so damn stubborn about going to Carnival there, I would strongly consider crewing on a few boats sailing throughout the Caribbean. I've come close to reconsidering—I would love to learn more about the boating culture out there—but I know at the same time I'm ready to get out of the artificial bubble this region of the world seems to operate within.

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