Got inspired to do this post by Sheila’s post.
November 29 1983 my little brother was born and about 2 weeks later we were all travelling down to London (Heathrow airport). My dad had gotten a job out in the Caribbean with the University of the West Indies (UWI) at their campus in Trinidad, and instead of going out there on his own, he decided that he would take me, my mum & (then baby) brother.
I went to school there at the UWI school. Apparently, as my dad as on the staff at the UWI, I automatially got a place and in my third year there (8yrs old) I started to learn Spanish. And if we stayed longer, I would have had to take the 11-plus and go to school in Port of Spain (the capital). In the school liabrarry I found the Ladybird books on the kings & queens of England (my parents later brought me my own copies!) They were the first history books I ever read and since then I have amassed a small library. Another book I found was Enid Blyton’s The Naughtiest Girl in the School all about a girl called Elizabeth Allen. I was reading it in the back of the car one day and squealled!! I eventually got the omnibus edition (of all 4 stories). No! I was not the naughtiest girl at school.
The weather was like 28 C & sunny, except when it was the wet season, then there was also the sudden (& I mean sudden… here one minute and gone the next kind of sudden) downpours. When it rained, it poured, and the roads where we lived looked like they were flooded. The engine of our Ford Cortina (remember those!) got flooded once! There are only 2 seasons; the wet season and the dry.
My brother also ‘drove’ the car in to the gate posts at our 2nd house! He had leant on the handbrake and the car rolled back into the gate post! My parents were not happy to say the least. The 2nd house had annex joined on to the main house by way of the car port. The annex was meant to be the maid’s quarters, and no we did not have a maid but my mum did some maths tuition in what would have been the bedroom.
We had 2 small banana plants in the back yard which the previous owners had tried to burn but they kept coming back every year. There was also a julie mango tree, which I loved to climb as the branches were low to the ground. My mum end up giving away loads fo the mongoes to the members of the UK Womens’ Group (an ex-pat group). There is nothing like a fresh mango!!!
The Queen came to Trinidad on a private visit following a state visit elsewhere in the region, and there was a tea party at the British High Commission. My parents were invited and they still have the gold embossed invitation!
The following is some random trivia I can remember…
- Trinidad has some of the best beaches… Manzanilla Beach on the east coast is one of the best, but very popular with the locals and tourists.
- Tobago is the place to go if you want to see marine wildlife.
- Caroni National Park (south of Port of Spain) has some of the best wildlife, especially the Scarlet Ibis, best time to see the Scarlet Ibis is in the late afternoon when they come back to roost. On one visit we saw a white ibis in amongst the red ones!
- One of the smaller species of ‘big cats’, the Ocelot, can be found in Trinidad. It’s the only wild cat to be found in Trinidad. The name is from the Aztec ocetotl meaning jaguar.
- Trinidad is not part of the Caribbean geologically. It is on the South American tectonic plate and has some species which can be found in South America. One a good day, you can see Venezuela and the mouth of the Orinoco river from the most northwesterly point (the distance is less than that between Dover and Calais!!).
- The main highway running west to east is the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, and the main airport is a former World War 2 US Air Force base.
- Trinidad also has a natural tar pit called La Brea like it’s cousin in LA, California, USA (but it’s pronounced ‘La Bray’).
- Trinidad had it’s own airline, B-Wee (the nickname for the now defunct British West Indies Airlines).
I will need to steal the photo albums and the scanner from the old folks, but I hope to have some piccies up on my flickr page soon.
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