Sunday, January 25, 2009

Travel Blog #7: Tremendous Tobago

They show a commercial repeatedly in Canada. You see this young couple, obviously on vacation, walking hand in hand along a pristine beach. They are talking about how lovely everything is. Along comes the voice over warning us about the dangers of getting nasty viruses from unexpected sources.

Next there’s a close up of a glass with a tropical drink and ICE floating in it. The woman makes an “oooh” sound at how good it looks and you just know that twelve seconds after finishing her drink, this lovely young woman is going to keel over dead into a pool of her own vomit. You never know about those foreign viruses lurking inside a seemingly innocent looking ice cube.

As we are bound for Tobago today, I had that commercial in mind. Being an intelligent man, I had vowed to avoid all beverages with little umbrellas floating in them.

After the sanitized and prissy-clean St. Barth, I was really hoping we weren’t going to get “Caribbean Lite” again. But where St. Barth’s is clean, Tobago is gritty. Where St. Barth’s is “way civilized,” Tobago is wild. Where the people of St. Barth’s look at you like bird poop that suddenly fell out of a tree and into their caviar, in Tobago they smile real smiles and welcome you to their country.

We had decided not to take an excursion from the ship. It’s always a good policy to book a cabbie. At most of these ports, cabbies can be hired for about $30 an hour. This isn’t a lot when you also consider that if you choose wisely, you get a tour guide interested in making your trip as perfect as possible (since the thirty bucks doesn’t include their tip.)

He drove us all over the island.

We saw wonderful seascapes. We popped by a “mall” on a cliff overlooking the city. Our guide called it a “mall” but it really was just a collection of huts where people were selling crap to the tourists. I don’t care for the crap, since most of it is destined for garage sales somewhere down the road. I like the people. And while you really should purchase something, what I am after is a picture of the people, usually proffering their crap to the camera. This guy carves wood into the most amazing things. He speaks only the faintest trace of English.

He was charming, though, and very polished in working with the tourists. He passed each wooden carving to prospective customers with both hands, like he was handing over a precious gem. He charmed the women and smiled at their husbands.

I liked Tobago. I liked the laid back pace of life. I liked the friendly people and the warm sun.

Tobago is what you think you are getting when you think about South America. You’ve got fabulous beaches, wonderful sun and wonderful people. Speaking of “wonderful people,” one of my favorite travel moments of all time took place that very afternoon.

You’ll hear that story tomorrow.

1 comment:

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