Day 1: Port of Spain
- October 12, 2016
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The main reason I went to Trinidad was cricket. I don’t know or care much for cricket but Gaurav wanted to watch India vs. West Indies test match in the Caribbean. So the plan for all 5 days in Trinidad was to watch cricket at the Queens Park Oval and eat delicious Trinidadian food which is a blend of Indian and African flavors. I knew that a large number of Trinidadian people were of Indian descent and their history would be unique and interesting. I hadn’t read about the history or anything else because a busy few weeks at work. So I was amused when the customs officer was impressed and, at the same time, a little envious of the fact that we could speak Hindi. He said he wished he could speak the language but only a select few in Trinidad can. He also told us that we were making a HUGE mistake by not going to Tobago.
As soon as we got out of the airport, there are food stalls and I got to eat my first double. All I can say is, it was love at first taste. It was airport food and yet it was ohh ssssooooo good. I couldn’t wait to try more doubles in Port of Spain. It was like chole puri but eaten like a taco. The chole, though, weren’t exactly like the chole you get in India. I’m not big on cooking so I can’t tell you exactly how it was different in taste or preparation but I had about 4-5 doubles every day for the rest of my stay in Trinidad. It’s one of those things you just have to eat it to appreciate it.
Our guest house in Port of Spain was within walking distance of all the bars and restaurants on Ariapita Ave. Once we checked in to our guest house and freshened up a little, we took a stroll to check out the night life. I had my first roti for dinner at Trinidad Authentic Cuisine and again, it had Indian influences but the roti tasted different.
I think the roti was made from different flour and it was served as a burrito with your choice of filling. Everything is freshly cooked and served immediately. Food and drinks, especially rum, are super cheap once you convert TT dollar to USD. We didn’t stay out too late because we had to wake up early to buy tickets before the cricket game started.
The next day, after having a few doubles for breakfast, we went to Queens Park Oval Stadium well before the game started.
We got there so early that we were able to watch players do their warm up routine, kick around a soccer ball, and practice. After watching players warm up for what felt like an eternity (probably about 20 mins in real time) I went to check out the gift shop at the stadium. It turns out the gift shop was closed but the staff was eager to show me a catalog of items on sale. As I was paying for a T-shirt I bought as a surprise for Gaurav (it was his birthday after all), a very nice British man asked if I was interested in seeing their museum. I don’t know much about cricket so I thought this might be a great opportunity for me to learn about cricket history. It turns out the British man was someone important and had asked a staff member to give me a personalized tour of the museum. A very nice gentleman took me around the museum going over important items on display. Eventually, Gaurav decided he wanted to join me at the museum and we were able spend some time looking at old photographs, autographed memorabilia, cricket bats, etc. Eventually, they announced cricket match is about to start soon so we left the museum.
Once the game started, Gaurav and others explained the rules of cricket to me but something just didn’t feel right. How can you be at a stadium and not have a drink so I
tried Carib beer. It tasted a little bit like Bud so needless to say I did not like it. A very nice man sitting behind us in the stadium heard me and offered us a can of Stag beer he had in his cooler. Yes, many people at the stadium came there with a cooler full of food and beer. It was such an amazing and relaxed stadium. No one cared that people had their own food/drinks in a cooler. Also, that man was absolutely right. Stag tastes much better than Carib. We watched cricket for about 2 hours before it started to rain and they stopped playing. It took another hour before the game was cancelled for the day.
Since cricket was cancelled for the day we wandered around Ariapita Ave for a bit before having lunch at a Chinese restaurant named Good Luck. We got fried chicken, fried rice, and black pepper sauce chicken. The portions were much larger than expected and we couldn’t even finish half of what we ordered. The Chinese food in every country is a little bit different and this was no exception. None of the food was super spicy but the flavors were stronger than what we get in America. Overall, the food was great but it was more expensive than most other restaurants in the neighborhood.
For dinner, we walked over to Queens Park Savannah where dozens of food carts gather at night. The food options included fresh coconuts, oysters, gyros, doubles, pholourie (deep fried dough balls made from chickpeas flour), corn soup, Trini ice cream, various Trini desserts, bake and shark, and more. All the food was so cheap and delicious. Once we filled up on delicious Trini food (corn soup, gyro, pholourie and, of course, doubles) we headed to a local bar on Ariapita Ave for a few drinks and watch Usain Bolt in 4x100m Olympics finals. I noticed there were 6 police officers at the bar just hanging out but they weren’t drinking. As the race was about to start, the music was turned off, TV volume came on, everyone turned toward the TV and started cheering for Bolt. As soon as the race ended, the six cops left the bar with huge smiles on their faces knowing Bolt won another gold. We had a few more drinks, walked around until around midnight before heading back to our guest house.
For more photos, please visit my Instagram page: Rupal’s Travel Diaries