Far more often when I travel, I play the part of voyeur, rather than active participant. I simply enjoy watching life float past me while I am on the road. There is immense enjoyment for me from just watching things happen in strange places.  I definitely am more on to sit back and watch, more than participate.

Over breakfast a few weeks ago in Crown Point, Tobago, I was listening to the conversation of a table of four locals next to me. The only man was an older man that looked, and sounded, like he had immigrated from India at some point. He had a big, sweeping, bushy mustache and his English was a mix of proper British style English, that I imagined he learned in India, and more of the local creole dialect, which is damn difficult to understand at the speed they throw it out.

The three women at the table ranged in age from the one that seemed to be about the same age as the Indian gentleman, early 60s perhaps, and two others that were considerably younger, around 30 or so. They were all dressed in colorful patterned dresses, exactly the sort of thing you would imagine for the Caribbean.

I understood about two-thirds of what was said. Although the creole and local slang was lilting and a bit mesmerizing, when they waded heavily in that pool, I was unable to follow. What I did follow was the mundane chatter of the area.  Some gossip.  Plans for the day.  Things that were going on in the area.

I had been feeling a bit removed from the real world for days, as if watching a movie on a screen, instead of being involved at all.  The people at the table ended up engaging me in a bit of conversation about why I was there and what I had planned for the week, which helped snap me out of my passive state.  It was a nice wake-up.

map showing how close trinidad is to venezuela

One thing I found odd about my time in Trinidad and Tobago is that I never heard anyone speak Spanish.  Trinidad is really, really close to Venezuela.  Under 20 miles of ocean lay between the two countries.  But even given that proximity, this former British colony remains all that and it seems that the South American influence is almost non-existent.

This restaurant lay between the local beach and an area where a lot of the tourists were staying.  Although I love the whole atmosphere of beach towns, there is something about tourists in a typical beach town that I almost invariably find amusing. Or tourists going to a beach town for that matter.

tourists going to the beach island tobago

like matching off to war

I have noticed this before at beach locations, but it really struck me this particular morning.  Sometimes it appears that the tourists walking to the beach, women in their floppy hats and men in their baseball caps, have more of a look of duty than that of any particular joy.  It has the appearance of ‘we are here, we have to go to the beach.’  Perhaps it is because I am not particularly a beach person, but sometimes they appear to be lemmings in my eyes.

I ended up walking down to the beach, getting a bottle of water and reading some of my book on one of the benches there.  I did get to see a Muslim woman wading in the shallows with her husband.  She had the full hijab garb on, from head to toe.  Her husband held her hands, as he tried to keep her upright as the waves crashed against here.  Perfectly odd image to finish my morning.

19 Responses

  1. Interesting perspective of the tourists marching off to the beach. I haven’t thought of it that way before either, but I agree, there is a duty to get there, first thing & as much as possible if they’re in a beachy place. Perfect photo.

  2. Interesting idea and when I think about it, it seems quite normal also… People are used to follow structure and patterns (get up at 6, eat, shower, drive to work, eat again at 12, drive home at 6,…) every day in a row. Some will feel unconfortable if certain habits have to switch place, like have a shower before lunch instead of afterwards.
    When they take a two week holiday it’s not possible to get this out of their system. They will often follow again a pattern like get up at 8, shower, breakfast, quick swim in the pool, head to the beach,…
    So your comparison with lemmings seems quite right to me.

    • thanks for the insight — hope I didn’t offend any of my beach comber friends. Like I said, love those spots in the world. Just not much of a “baker.”

    • such an odd thing. Love beach towns. Love diving. Not big on just spending time on the beach though. Not a sun worshiper in the least, but love the vibe of those places.

  3. We’re not beach people either AND we thought we were the champions of people watching (is that just a polite phrase for earwigging and staring?). Watching people walk to the beach is one of our favourite pastimes. People who look like they’ve gone on holiday by mistake 🙂

  4. Loving your posts on Tobago since that’s where my mom was born and your posts are bringing me back to the summer holidays I spent there as a child. My most recent visit was last year and there’s definitely a different vibe to how the locals enjoy the beaches as opposed to the visitors. Visitors often feel like they *have to* spend the whole day at the beach. Locals will just pull up–no beach towel or picnic basket–take a dip for a half an hour and then go on their merry way. So much more laid back and relaxed. Gotta love it!

  5. Hmm …. I missed Trinidad and Tobago, sent my ex and her mother and sister once – they unfortunately think renting a jeep and driving every mile of an island is “vacation”. I’ll definitely add Castara as a “get to” before my bucket rusts and can’t support a list. As you know I favor parts of St. Lucia, albiet it’s been years ++ and it has probably over commercialized. Back to reading your works – wish I spent more time doing so!

    • thanks for visiting, Ed! And I think that your version and mine of a vacation are in sync — I wouldn’t want to just drive around the whole island like that.

  6. I love how you went to Tobago! My mom’s from Trinidad and I was there last in February in time for Carnival. Are you going to be there for Carnival in 2011? If you’re still there, you have to try doubles, they are so amazing and my mouth is watering just thinking about them 🙂

    One funny thing to look out for in Tobago is the foreign women with the local men. Tobago is a hot sex tourism destination for European women looking to shower sexy black men with gifts 😉

    • ahhhh, alas, I am not there anymore. Went back to Colombia after a week or so there and am in the States now. Didn’t know you had family from there. Great, great place.

  7. When you are a tourist from a cold country, in my case Sweden, the beach can be the most relaxing place to spend the day. Reading a good book, take a swim…

    By the way on the picture its me (with the backpack), my parents and two swedish women staying at the same hotel.

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