trinidad and tobago
Ugly towns and stunning jungle mountains.
We spent ten days in Trinidad - I can't say what Tobago's like. Trinidad, however, is both incredible and incredibly disappointing.
Let's start with the good things: the jungles that still remain in Trinidad are impressively green, filled with birds, and have plenty of completely untouched parts. On our very first full day in Trinidad, we hooked up with some locals and spent three hours bushwhacking in a heavy thunderstorm to reach a wild cave. As an experienced caver, I was floored by this cave, which we think was only accidentally discovered a few years back. There was an enormous oilbird colony inside, and also a vertical passage of approximately 80 feet dropping down to an underground stream in a gymnasium-sized room. It's never been explored. To my knowledge, there may have never been a caving expedition to Trinidad, and a large swath of the jungle surrounding Mt. Aripo is absolutely filled with sinkholes that have never been checked. The potential for a 500-meter deep cave here is high.
We also got some advice from locals about the only known slot canyon on the island, and bushwhacked for hours in a torrential downpour to find it. In hopes of attracting canyoneering efforts to the islands, I published Guanapo Gorge Canyon on Ropewiki.com.
As well, there are some stunning beaches, endless waterfalls of all shapes and sizes, and forests of palms that sway in the breeze. Trinidad's landscapes and nature, to put it bluntly, are sweet as.
We spent several days staying at a hummingbird sanctuary, with the birds flying through our windows and chirping on the sink of the outside kitchen. It was one of the neatest places I've ever stayed.
However, Trinidadian society is ugly. Despite being the wealthiest nation in the Caribbean, much of the island is a congested, crowded mess of concrete, aluminium roofs, and horrible traffic. Getting around with a rental car is slow, the noise of society is inescapable, and, in our experience, many people are not friendly or happy. No one goes into nature - we were told that the concept of hiking only started with the 2020 pandemic. Fair enough, as the forests here are filled with deadly snakes and deadly scorpions. But, to be honest, the Trinidadian life seems to be little more than going to work, and staying home watching TV, for most people, most of their days. We were able to see some of the very neat Hindu culture, with several intricate temples scattered across the island, and a cremation ceremony where they scattered the ashes into the sea, to drift off to Venezuela.
I'll probably be back to Trinidad someday to find some amazing caves. The risks are snakes, scorpions, torrential rains, and vast piles of histoplasmosis-filled bat guano. Sounds awesome to me.