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Research the History and Culture of Trinidad, Weather, and more


Trinidad for Women -- a journalist reports...

Where she plays...

Although it's not a sand-and-sandals style island, Trinidad does have some fine beaches. One of the best, close to Port of Spain, is Maracas Bay. Not only are there guest houses and an inn in the vicinity, the parking lot of the beach boasts one of the best shark and bake stands in the country. The small, delicate sharks are chopped into burger-sized steaks, deep fried in a light batter and slapped into a delicious bun (the bake). There's a huge assortment of condiments to slather on, from a garlic sauce, to tamarind, curry, tomatoes, lettuce and mustard. This is a must-try, yummy treat. The other snack not to miss is roti. Chicken (with or without the bones), conch, shrimp, goat and beef are the protein mainstays of this curried favorite. Ali's Roti in Port of Spain, in St. James, serves one of the best versions in town.

If you're into historic mansions, take a gander at the magnificent seven in Port of Spain. These extravagant turn-of-the-century structures, which face the city's central grassy Carnival grounds (known as the Savannah), are now used as schools and for special events. One, Stollmeyer's Castle, was modelled on Queen Victoria's retreat at Balmoral in Scotland.

Another Trinidadian tradition is music. At night, it's easy to sit in on a pan (steel drum) band rehearsing. Groups such as the BWIA Invaders or Amoco Renegades can be found tapping out classical tunes on their customized pans in outdoor yards and most don't mind an audience.

For a quick spot of history, check out the National Museum and Art Gallery, at the corner of Frederick and Keate Streets, which covers the origins of Carnival, plantation life, and the layered politics of the island.

One area the government is starting to develop is eco-tourism. New hiking trails have been carved in the forested Northern Range areas around the Heights of Guanapo and the Hollis Reservoir and, for bird lovers, there's the Asa Wright Nature, which also has a restaurant and lodge. If you go in July, you can see the leatherback turtles laying their eggs on the beach at Grand Riviere, on the north east coast.

Day trips can add spice to your visit...

Women can take some very unusual day trips from Port of Spain. Paramin and Lopinot are two places you might consider visiting. At Lopinot the keeper of the historical grounds is Martin Gomez. Not only will he give you an exhaustive account of the plantation, he's an accomplished musician and if you're lucky, he'll share the songs of his childhood.

At one of Trinidad's highest elevations is the village of Paramin. Here is where much of the country's herbs and seasonings are grown. Chives (pronounced Sives), Spanish Tyme, ginger, and shadow beni are among the crops grown on the area's heart-stoppingly steep terrain. A strong stomach and a four-wheel drive are needed for this trip. A driver and guide can be arranged by companies such as Trinidad and Tobago Sightseeing Tours for between $45 and $60 U.S. per person. Phone 868-628-1051 or e-mail:

She's a vibration cook...

In the Caribbean, there's only one female executive chef. Her name is Debbie Sardinha-Metivier, she's 34, and can be found in Port of Spain at the Hilton Hotel. "It's pretty much a man's world, so to be doing this feels pretty good," says the Trinidadian chef. She went to school at New York City Technical College and got her Bachelor's degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Her jobs have included working at the Ladies Home Journal test kitchen in New York and for the United Nations, before she received the call to helm the Hilton's Trinidad cuisine team.

A true perfectionist, she says she was inspired by her grandmother. "She says I'm a vibration cook, with sweet fingers. That means a good touch with balancing the sense of smell and taste," explains Sardinha-Metivier, adding, "What's beautiful about this job is that it's always evolving. In Trinidad there are so many different cuisines, I'm always being challenged to be more creative."

Debra's Chickpea Polenta
Journeywoman thanks this Carribean chef for sharing one of her recipes with us. It will be great fun to hear from readers once they've tried this recipe. E-mail:

1 tbsp. Olive oil
1tbsp. Chopped garlic
1 tbsp. Chopped chive
pinch saffron
1 1/2 c. Chicken stock
1 1/2 c. coarse cornmeal
1 tbsp. Chopped cilantro
1 1/4 c. ground cooked chickpeas (called channa in Trinidad)
4 tbsp. Butter
salt and pepper to taste

Cook garlic and chive in heavy sauce pan until tender. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the saffron and dissolve completely. Slowly sprinkle cornmeal over the boiling stock and use a whisk to blend, then switch to wooden spoon to finish. Allow the cornmeal to bind and cook well under a low heat, until no longer grainy. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste and place into desired mould. Slice to serve.

Last but not least...

Finally, you can't leave Trinidad without a couple of reasonably priced souvenirs. Trinidad's fine coffee, Hong Wing, and Mabel's hot pepper sauce are both made in Trinidad, as is Angoustra Bitters, and all are available in the local grocery stores. Trinidad is not a pina colada type of place. But, then again, it's not swarming with North Americans, which makes it a different and more educational kind of holiday. And the limin's pretty good, too!

Regarding accommodation, the Hilton, which is getting a multi-million makeover next year, is a typical business traveller's choice with rooms going at around $200 U.S. a night, depending on the season. Guest houses are one of the more interesting accommodation choices, as are B&B's in private homes. These can be booked through Accommodations Unlimited, e-mail Prices start at around $50 U.S.

For more information contact Tourism and Industrial Development Company of Trinidad & Tobago Limited (TIDCO) at P.O. Box 222, 10-14 Philipps St., Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. Phone (868) 623-6022-3 or fax (868) 625-0837. Website:




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