By Kielon Hilaire. Every once in a while something happens in your life that surprises or changes you in a way that you never thought would be as easily possible. This year I experienced both surprises and changes when I decided to do something I never did before — to visit Tobago during the Carnival season, even after being warned by numerous people that it was pretty much going to be the same experience as it usually would be in Trinidad. They were wrong, it wasn’t.
Now off the bat, this certainly was not my first visit to Tobago, nor am I about to claim that I had an experience that no one else has had before. Nevertheless, my experience may serve as a reminder for some people and it may also help those who have never had the opportunity to experience such a thing.
My girlfriend and I left for Tobago on February 5, which was Carnival Friday, and raced down to the Port in Port of Spain to catch the 5 o’clock ferry to Tobago. We were pumped and ready to go. After waiting anxiously to board the ferry, we eventually got to hop on and spent the next three hours being driven by sea to the island. We made it to Tobago sometime after 8.00 pm then a taxi took us to a reputable chain of apartments. We got our keys and settled in for the night.
When I woke the next morning everything felt different — different than it felt in years. My girlfriend greeted me early that morning, then we had breakfast, watched a little TV, then spent some time just talking about life, movies, books, people, food, music and so on. Not realising it was after 1.00 pm by then. Then it was back to bed for an hour or two for us then more of a rinse and repeat formula for the rest of that day, to which some Trinidadian’s may have said, “Tha’s wha all yuh leave Trinidad to pay money and do?” And that was the beauty of it; it wasn’t about what we paid to do but what we did not do.
During our stay in Tobago we just woke up whenever and did whatever we felt like, even if in some instances that happened to be cooking or cleaning. We had not a care in the world, which is something that I’ve come to realise being in Tobago tends to do. Perhaps we felt this way because of the sea breeze, the overly warm personality of Tobagonians or the fact that you can walk the streets day or night wearing almost anything you like and no one would bat an eye, which some may even argue that we only felt this way because we were technically tourists. But I’ve been to other countries and I can definitely say that Tobago is still different.
Being as attuned to technology as I am, it felt strange realising that days passed and I didn’t care who had messaged me on WhatsApp, who had posted what on Facebook, or who sent me an email about anything. And one of my favourite pastimes, which is browsing the Internet for insightful and edifying information had also taken a back seat — a pretty big deal coming from me. Instead, I often found myself sitting on a balcony either by myself or with my girlfriend, contemplating nothing but the moment. That’s when I realised that for whatever the real reason may be, Tobago is capable of getting you to live in the moment and to embrace everything serene and good, which is something that while you can get at other places it’s rare to find an entire island with over 50,000 people that bask entirely in this atmosphere. Quintessentially, once you are in Tobago you are more likely to feel at ease, no matter where you go or who you interact with.
So while I pretty much did a lot of the same things that I would normally do in Trinidad during Carnival, which is to watch Soca Monarch and the Parade of the Bands live on television, it was rather interesting to observe that doing that and everything else I would normally do whenever I visit Tobago (such as roam through Store Bay and hit the beach) became secondary in this instance. By the end of the trip, I got back more in touch with the core of who I am, I embraced a friendship on a different level and I found a new love and respect for Tobago.
Some may think that the beaches, the fauna and flaura, the festivities and local cuisine are what make Tobago a beautiful place but in my humble opinion I truly believe that the increased peace of mind you can experience there is what makes the island the true paradise that it really is. If you’ve never experienced such a thing after going there, my advice is that you should keep going — keep going and learn to free up yourself until the mysteries of the land unlocks your mind, heart and soul.
April 2016 – Issue 21 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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