Trinidad from the Perspective of an Outsider on the In

In “Trinidad from the Perspective of an Outsider on the In,” Shannon T. Boodram speaks about Trinidad from the perspective if a fellow Caribbean or, as she calls herself, a Trini-wannabe:

I fashion myself a kind of wannabe Trini. From my last name to my love of soca and my dedication for devouring doubles, the country is in me without directly having any real part of who I physically am.

So just imagine my delight while planning a trip to my actual ancestral land, Guyana, when I learned the only way to my motherland was through my stepmother’s international airport. I immediately decided I would turn my stopover into a three-day stay over.

Before I went to Trinidad, I posted all over Twitter that I was looking for the most delicious doubles, the best fêtes and the greatest steel pan concerts—only to be met with snide replies like, “We have regular food and regular parties here. It’s not like Carnival every week.” But from my experience it actually sort of was.

When we woke up, we crossed the street to join the line-up at the doubles cart. While we walked to town, small stores and mechanic shops blasted Machel Montano like they were on wheels, chippin’. The people spoke with a singsong accent as they stood in front of their neatly manicured gardens. And, as luck would have it, we stumbled on a heritage festival that featured Silver Stars—my favourite pan band, which I saw perform in Toronto two years earlier.

I enjoyed touring the 1,980-square mile country and just like a Caucasian kid from Guelph, Ont. can feel a sense of home at New York’s Queensbridge housing projects through rap, I found myself perking up and swelling with pride each time I recognized a city name or landmark from soca lyrics.

The country is actually as lovely as its national music boasts and from the vantage point of my short stay, not as dangerous as our newspapers suggest. It’s a remarkable piece of earth silver-lined with awe-worthy hills, but if I had to issue a criticism: Way too much fried food and not nearly enough receptacles in which to put its remains!

All-in-all, thank you, Trinidad, for being great. On the same note, no thank you for setting my standards so high just before my descent into Guyana (which is an entirely different story perhaps for an entirely different issue). I cannot wait to return to the town of Piarco, sort of because I enjoyed my time as a tourist but mostly in hopes that an encore staycation will qualify me as a potential adoptee.

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