On the sandy beach of Trinidad’s northern coastline, hundreds of leatherback turtles crawl around looking for a safer place to lay eggs. For thousands of tourists who visit this island republic during this turtle-watching season, standing beside and even touching one of these ancient mariners is truly a memorable moment.
During this turtle-watching season –– from March to August –– hundreds of leatherback turtles come ashore under the moon-lit sky. As they gather to lay eggs, the whole of Trinidad gets into festive mood. Though small in size, Trinidad, situated seven miles off the coast of Venezuela, has a long coastline making it one of the richest regions for eco- tourism. And the neighboring Tobago attracts diving enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Aside from beaches, Tobago’s rainforests are also popular with tourists. Its Main Ridge Forest was voted to become the world’s leading ecotourism destination by World Travel Awards for four consecutive years (2003-2006). In 2007 and 2009, it was regarded the world’s leading green destination.
After the state-owned sugar company, Caroni (1975) Ltd, was closed in 2003, its sprawling sugar plantations are now slowly being replaced by residential colonies.
Sugar plantations bring back the memory of the country’s troubled past, slavery and colonialism.
That is the past, Caroni Island is today known for its bird sanctuary and a swamp. Its 60 square kilometres of tidal lagoons, mangroves and marshland are home to more than 157 species of birds, including the National Bird –– scarlet.
Myriad of cultures
In this former British colony, English is the official language, but there are a large number of other people who speak verities of tongues including Spanish, French, Hindi and Arabic.
Even the country’s elite often deviate from their English and speak in a language that sounds to be a mixture of many different languages. For them, ‘I go-go down de road’ is future tense, ‘tie-up she head with lyrics’ means trying to seduce a woman.
Some times these myriad of languages, place names, foods, religions and cultures appear to create confusion, yet Trinidadians have managed to create an identity for themselves.
Most of the residents here are the descents of African and Indian laborers brought by the British to work on sugar plantations.
Another famous lure to Trinidad is the annual Carnival festival, where the freewheeling, colorful spirit of the Trinidad culture comes alive. The carnival happens every year in February.