Elegantly Bajan Experiences

The term Bajan or Barbadian is referred to the people of the Caribbean island of Barbados. Bajan is also an English based creole language that is spoken on the island. It can be quite confusing to a native English speaker, as the locals have a very fast slang way of running the words together.

During my recent visit to Barbados, I discovered that one can discover the authentic cuisine and culture at all inclusive resorts as well. Elegant Hotels is a Bajan company that employs a majority local staff, from the chefs, waiters and beach ambassadors, to the management. They pride themselves in creating experiences that expose guests to the Barbados style of living – be it engaging in a game of road tennis, tasting rum while “liming”, or taking lessons in steel pan drumming. Here are a few Bajan experiences offered by two of the resorts that are located in the western and southern parts of the island.crystal cove Barbados

Crystal Cove is on the platinum west coast of Barbados where the gentle waves lap at the stunning shoreline with the resort on an elevated position offering fantastic views out to sea. The all-inclusive four star property is in a charming traditional Bajan style and has an elegantly intimate feel that makes it popular with families and parties. Crystal Cove features three freshwater lagoon swimming pools, a swim-up bar, two restaurants, complimentary watersports for all guests, two tennis courts and a free water taxi to other Elegant Hotels Group properties on the west coast.

New Elegantly Bajan initiatives at Crystal Cove include:

  • Oistins Night – A weekly culinary sensation, Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday night is where locals and tourists alike head to the south coast to savour some rustic dining on local seafood and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere. Crystal Cove recreates the vibes of Oistins with a range of local authentic dishes at Drifters Restaurant for some beachside dining. Dine on a feast of local fish marinated and cooked live on George’s BBQ grill. Delicacies include granny’s fish cakes with Mount Gay Rum cocktail sauce, fried flying fish with Bajan pepper sauce, grilled sweet potato, fried plantain, calypso rice and pumpkin & ginger soup. Musical entertainment is in the form of a local popular DJ mixing sounds of Oistins with everything from calypso to reggae, as local artisans at the resort display local crafts and souvenirs.
  • Bridgetown Heritage Tour – Barbados’ capital is often overlooked by guests and offers a genuinely fascinating array of attractions for visitors to the island. Exclusively for Crystal Cove guests, this day long tour will soak up the most beautiful architecture and historic buildings in the capital as well include visits to the Mount Gay Visitor Centre, Kensington Oval, St. Mary’s Church, Parliament Buildings, Garrison Savannah and the Prime Minister’s Office. There will even be time in the itinerary for some duty-free shopping in Bridgetown followed by lunch and a trip to one of Barbados’ most beautiful beaches, Brown’s Beach, for a spot of snorkelling and relaxation.Bridgetown Barbados
  • Heritage Night – For an evening like no other, Crystal Cove puts on a Caribbean cabaret floor show with dancers wearing carnival costumes and performing a range of dances and feats including fire eating and limbo dancing. This is accompanied by the Tuk Band and the famous Calypso King; authentic dishes from around the Caribbean and The Chattel House Bar which serve a variety of coconut cocktails.
  • Steel Pan Classes – One of the quintessential sounds of Barbados, this is a chance for travelers to get to grips with the steel pans and have a go at producing well known songs as well as calypso classics with some of the best professionals on the island.Bajan1
  • Road Tennis Classes – Road tennis is the little known national sport of Barbados – unique and exclusive to the island, road tennis involves a ‘skinned’ tennis ball, a stretch of road for a court and wooden paddles to bat the ball between two players. Easy to learn and fun to play, Crystal Cove staff show guests how to master this local sport as well as set up some tournaments for a vigorous work out.
  • Rum Shop initiation – It is said there is a rum shop on every corner of Barbados and that liming (Bajan slang for relaxing) at a local village rum shop is an essential part of the Bajan experience. To test this theory, Crystal Cove staff coaches guests on how to ‘lime’ and really learn to relax, chill and clear their minds of any stress, by teaching them rum shop games. Dominos is a national obsession in Barbados and Crystal Cove staff teaches guests how to play slam dominos like a real Bajan as well as drink some rum based forfeits. Guests can also sample local rum shop snacks including corn beef and biscuits as well as cheese cutters made with local salt bread.rum tasting Barbados

Turtle Beach, on the south coast offer a host of Elegantly Bajan experiences for families, couples and parties alike. A premium all-inclusive property in the lively St Lawrence parish of Barbados, Turtle Beach is popular with families and couples who love the relaxed atmosphere, 1,500ft beach and general feeling of space and tranquility the resort offers. With two swimming pools, three restaurants and bars, two tennis courts and the infamous Captain Sam’s watersports centre with free water-sports including dinghy sailing and surfing.

Bajan initiatives at Turtle Beach include:

  • Turtle Pioneers – Get the inside scoop from locals. Turtle Pioneers – Hermanius, Maradonna, Nigel and Captain Sam are an elite team of Barbados experts and are a powerhouse of knowledge about what to do, where to go and when to do it in Barbados.
  • Pastry School – Guests at Turtle Beach can take part in a weekly pastry class with award winning dessert chef Ezra Beckles. Known for his sinfully tasty treats, Ezra uses unusual ingredients including noni flour and cactus as well as traditional ingredients from Barbados including local tamarind, cherries and coconut. He takes guests through how to create local delicacies and most importantly, how to enjoy them!cooking in Barbados
  • The Pepper Pot Culinary Tour – On this tour, guests visit the Speightstown Fish Market, then onto the scenic Jumas Restaurant to sample a variety of Bajan delicacies, a ride through historic Holetown, and culminate with an authentic Bajan lunch at Scotch Bonnet restaurant, owned and operated by celebrated local chef Peter Edey.
  • Caribbean Goes Global Dance Show – The Caribbean Goes Global Dance Show takes guests through the different genres of Caribbean music throughout the years, covering everything from calypso and soca to reggae and gospel.
  • Lemon Arbor Excursion – Guests enjoy a Bajan Saturday staple ‘pudding and souse’ while taking in the picturesque St. John country views at popular local hangout Lemon Arbor.
  • Q in the Community – Experience a truly authentic Bajan experience at ‘Q in the Community’ the latest event taking Barbados by storm. Known as the ‘moving Oistins’, Q in the Community changes locations across Barbados weekly and features domino playing, line and ballroom dancing and karaoke contests. Informal, open air dining features popular local dishes such as grilled fish and chips, macaroni pie and fish cakes. The event is broadcast live on local radio station Q 100.7, and broadcast on television a few days later. The tour is held every Thursday and resort guests are accompanied by members of staff known as the Turtle Pioneers.

Top 10 Things to do in Barbados

Barbados is a British island in the eastern Caribbean. It is very popular among European tourists looking to enjoy sun, sand, warm waters, good food and nightlife. The official language is English and US dollars are accepted everywhere.

The name “Barbados” comes from a Portuguese explorer named Pedro Campos in 1536, who originally called the island Los Barbados “The Bearded Ones”, after the appearance of the island’s fig trees, whose long hanging aerial roots resembled beards.

While most visitors who come to Barbados spend their days at all-inclusive resorts, there is much to see around the small island too. Here are my top recommendations for things to do in Barbados:

1. Bridgetown – The capital and a cruise harbor, is dotted with historic buildings, shops, yachts and waterfront cafes. Bridgetown, was originally named “Indian Bridge” for the rude bridge which had been constructed over the river (now known as the Careenage) by the Indians. One can spend an entire day walking through Broad Street passing by the parliament buildings and shopping areas, cathedrals and a Jewish synagogue. Take a photo stop at Chamberlain Bridge and have lunch at The Bridge House. Go through Baxter Road to see a historic Barbados neighborhood. Stop by Pelican craft center for local art and souvenirs.

barbados bridgetown

2. Harrison’s Caves – Located in the central uplands of the island, this breathtakingly beautiful, crystallized limestone cavern is a testament to nature’s mastery. Flowing streams, deep pools of crystal clear water and towering columns characterize this living cave. Gaze in wonder at the white flow stones and in awe at the beauty of the speleothems which adorn the cave. There are walk in, tram and cave adventure tours that kids and adults would enjoy. More at www.harrisonscave.com

harrison cave barbados

3. Oistins – This is the street where locals hang out and east casual food – mostly grilled or fried catch of the day. Every Friday night, there’s a “fish fry” where you can eat, drink and dance with the locals until wee hours in the morning.

barbados fish fry

4. Crystal Cove Beach – After looking around the island for beaches and hotels, I found Crystal Cove to have the perfect balance of an intimate Bohemian style accommodation, with all the comforts of a large resort. The beach is perfect for laying around sipping cocktails, and the water is calm to swim. There are also tons of complimentary water activities including waterskiing, banana boat rides, tube rides, snorkeling, hobbiecat, and kayaking. The surrounding waters are also famous for diving, fishing and swimming with sea turtles – all of which can be arranged at Crystal Cove.

barbados beach

5. Flower Forest – See panoramic views of the sea coast at this 7 acres wild garden in the Barbados “Scotland District” 750 ft above sea level. There are hundreds of varieties of pants and flowers, blooming throughout the year. You may also be able to see some of the wildlife – monkeys, birds, insects and butterflies. Don’t miss the Forest Cafe at the entrance where you can get some of the best fish cakes on the island. More at www.flowerforestbarbados.com

flower forest barbados

6. Mount Gay Distillery – Barbados rum is served everywhere, so its nice to learn a little history of the local rum production. Although the actual rum making takes place at the northern part of the island, you can get a good look of the bottling plant here. There is a short video about how Mount Gay got started, a tour of the museum, and then a few tastings. There’s a bar and snack shop to enjoy all sorts of rum cocktails. At the gift shop, you can purchase all of Mount Gay products and souvenirs. See www.mountgayrum.com

mount gay distillery barbados

7. Animal Flower Cave – Located under the cliffs at the northern shores of Barbados, it is the island’s lone accessible sea cave. There are steep stairs to go down but once inside the cave, you will see some sea anemones which are locally called animal flowers from whence the cave obtained its name. The cave’s coral floor is estimated to be about 400k to 500k years old. You can also swim in the natural pool inside. The sea outside is very rough with tall waves crashing against the rocks.

animal flower cave barbados

8. Kensington Oval – Cricket is the national sports of Barbados and its common to find people playing at parks and fields around the country. For competitive matches go to the historic Kensington Oval complex on game day and participate in this favorite West Indies pastime.

barbados cricket

9. Rent a car – Driving around the island is the best way to explore its natural and manmade landscapes. You will pass by small villages, upscale condominium complexes, luxurious resorts, historic cathedrals and scenic views. The south point of the island is good for restaurants, clubs and resorts. The west is where some of the best beaches and nice resorts can be found. The north point is where you will see high waves and sea caves. Towards the east is a hilly village, Bathsheba. The waters along the coast here are rough, making it suitable for surfing.

Remember that in Barbados, you drive on the left side of the road, and most vehicles are right hand drive.

10. Eat the local cuisine – Most menus in Barbados would offer a mix of western and Caribbean dishes, catering to the diverse tourists the island receives. Skip over the hamburgers and pasta, and look for fried flying fish served with a sauce made with hot Scotch Bonnet peppers with onions and mustard. Pepperpot is a typical Bajans pork stew; Cutters are sandwiches made using Salt Bread; and Cou cou is the national dish of Barbados. Somewhat similar to polenta or grits, Cou-cou is made with corn meal and okra. Most local dishes can be found at Cuz’s Fish Stand near the Hilton Hotel, Sand Dunes restaurant on the east coast and Lemon Harbor in the St. John countryside.

barbados national dish

5 Cities in Jamaica You Must Go To!

Jamaica is a wonderful island known for its white sand beaches and reggae music. The country is a perfect destination for a family vacation, wedding celebration, outdoor excursion, or culinary tour. Here are some of the most important Jamaican cities you must visit:

1. Kingston

Kingston, the capital, is Jamaica’s bustling metropolitan city and is considered the cultural district of the island. It’s mix of jungle, modern business, and original colonial architecture makes the city a must-see for any visitor. Kingston is located in the Southeast corner of Jamaica far from the northern resort towns, which speaks to why Kingston is known as the most authentic city on the island. An interesting tourist destination located in Kingston is The Bob Marley Museum, which is coincidentally the departed reggae star’s former home in Jamaica. All of the rooms in his home have been meticulously preserved to display Bob’s life as accurately as possible, including his personal recording studio, closet, and award showcase. Also, the “One Love Café” in the museum boasts some of Bob’s favorite meals.

bob-marley-museum

2. Montego Bay

This Jamaican destination is perfect for the traveler who loves relaxing on the coast with a piña colada in their hand. Montego Bay, or simply “MoBay” by the locals, is home to many famous and luxurious beaches. The city is the second largest on the island and is located in the Northwest corner where it holds many hotels, restaurants, and a cruise ship port. For the beach bum, Doctor’s Cave beach is the most popular beach in Montego Bay and is known for it’s clean and beautiful waters. Interestingly enough, one can also experience a winter wonderland in the city while enjoying the tropical paradise. CHILLIN at Coral Cliff holds the island’s only ski lodge and ice bar!

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3. Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios, or “Eight Rivers,” was initially a historic site and is now a thriving tourist city. Columbus Park is located just outside of Ocho Rios and is where Columbus supposedly first landed in Jamaica. There is also a port here for cruise ships and interesting scuba diving spots. Even though there are not actually eight rivers in Ocho Rios, there are many beautiful waterfalls in the area. The most well known is Dunn’s River Falls, which receives thousands of visitors each year because of its resemblance to a giant staircase. Tourists can actually climb the waterfalls with a guide in about an hour!

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4. Negril

About an hour drive from the Montego Bay Airport lies the quiet resort town Negril on the westernmost shore of Jamaica. A relaxing and popular attraction is Seven Mile Beach full of soft white sand and palm trees for as far as the eye can see. For the more adventurous visitor, a must-see spot is Rick’s Café on the coast. Not only can you taste a great Jamaican meal and party at their nightclub, but you can cliff dive off the rocks. The highest platform jump at Rick’s Café is 35 feet and ensures the thrill of a lifetime.

 

5. South Coast

The South Coast in Jamaica is a hidden treasure dripping with luxury. Any traveler should definitely visit the Bubbling Spring mineral baths known for their healing powers. The spring is fed by water that is filtered through limestone, and contains substantial levels of magnesium, potassium, chloride, sodium, iron, and manganese. Hungry? Schedule an outing to the Bloomfield Great House. It’s an expansive 200-year-old coffee plantation house that was recently renovated into a breathtaking restaurant.

2911To learn more about Jamaica, attend Go Eat Give Destination Jamaica on April 23, 2015 at Stir It Up Atlanta.

Inside Bonaire Carnival 2015

Bonaire Carnival Holidays are celebrated all through the month of February leading up to Ash Wednesday. Almost every day, there are events happening around the island. Carnival celebrations start with the Tumba Festival and the Queen’s and King’s Elections and children carnival parade.

Below are photos from the Children’s parade in the Centrum of Kralendijk. Toddlers to elementary age kids wear colorful costumes, parading across streets of the city center, moving their bodies to the rhythms of blaring music. DJ floats sign and play Spanish, hip hop and Papiamentu songs. Families sit at the sidewalks cheering on the crowds and having picnics.

The grand parade commences with an adult carnival that is filled with celebrations, costumes, and partying ending with the burning of the King Momo at the parking lot of the Kralendijk Stadium. This symbolizes the end of the carnival and beginning of Lent.

carnival

carnival Bonaire

carnival princess

carnival parade

carnival bands

carnival winners

carnival boys

carnival girls

carnival Bonaire

carnival costumes

carnival bonaire

carnival 2015

carnival babies

Visit Bonaire Tourism website to see a complete list of Carnival related and other events in Bonaire.

Dock Yourself at Blue Haven Resort and Marina

Tucked away at the northeast side of the island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos (TCI) is a boutique resort where you can have your entire family over for a destination wedding or a family getaway. While most tourists stay at one of the large resorts (Sandals, Beaches, etc) in Grace Bay, the solace traveler may prefer the quieter residential neighborhood where Blue Haven Resort and Marina is located. Its easy to rent a car and drive to the property, which is only a few minutes from restaurants and attractions.

First glimpse from the lobby of the white sandy beach and turquoise water is enough to take your breath away. The resort overlooks the mangroves directly in front and to the open Atlantic water on the right. The property, designed in elegant Caribbean fashion, was built as a condominium complex, but after the economic downturn, it was converted into a hotel.

blue haven resort TCI

Every room at Blue Haven is a fully equipped condo with separate bedroom and living areas. A modern looking kitchen and dining area is perfect for those who like to eat in during those extended stay vacations. King size bed and walk in closets, a bathroom large enough to fit a New York City apartment, and a private balcony with cozy lounge chairs – why would you ever leave?

Blue Haven is not an all inclusive resort (although meal packages can be purchased), but there is grocery store and deli where you can pick up breakfast, salads, sandwiches, coffee, juices, as well as fresh ingredients to cook with. For fun, lay by the infinity pool, play bocce ball, or watch a movie under the starry skies. Pamper yourself with a massage or facial at Elevate Spa or burn off those rum punches at the gym.

blue haven resort TCI

There are two additional restaurant on the property. SALT is an open air, casual eastern where you can walk into with sandy feet, and cricket playing on the background television is a subtle reminder of the English influence on the island. Taste the local flavors such as conch fritters, jerk shrimp and tuna tartare with a backdrop of the marina. For a more refined evening atmosphere, have dinner at Fire and Ice, a locally acclaimed restaurant serving Caribbean inspired international cuisine.

blue haven resort

You cannot visit the third largest barrier reef in the world without indulging in water sports. Located at Blue Haven are Big Blue Unlimited, a water sporting facility that offers stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, kiteboarding, snorkeling, diving, private boat charters, biking and cultural eco-tours across the islands, and Caribbean Cruisin that organizes day trips to other islands, North and South Caicos ferries, fishing charters and Jet Skis right off the hotel’s lagoon.

blue haven resort

The marina at Blue Haven is one of the only two on the island that can accommodate yachts, sailing and deep sea fishing boats arriving at the official port of entry into the Caribbean. Blue Haven Marina is an Island Global Yachting (IGY) destination, offering gas, utilizes, customs/ immigration and all hotel amenities to the guests.blue haven resort

Blue Haven Resort is one of the newest properties on Turks and Caicos, and the ideal place to relax in sand, sun and water anytime of the year. Don’t just dream of it – go!

Book your stay at the Blue Haven Resort now with TripAdvisor

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Dinner at the Beach House

The Beach House is a boutique resort located at famous Grace Bay on Providencials in Turks and Caicos islands. The luxurious property offers elegantly designed 21 rooms and suites, overlooking the white sand dunes and turquoise blue waters. The accommodation is ideal for someone looking for an almost-private beach house style living, with top class service and great location. There is also a swimming pool, spa, gym, complimentary watersports equipment and bicycles, and fine dining available at the resort.

beach house turks and caicos

Even if you don’t stay at The Beach House, make sure to book yourself a 7-course tasting dinner at Kitchen 218. Ambient lighting and artful furniture decorated by the pool, create a Mediterranean feel around this elegant restaurant. Chilean born and world traveled, Chef Cristian Rebolledo of Kitchen 218, creates a globally inspired menu that you cannot find anywhere else on the island. He surprises the diners with creative cooking techniques and rare ingredients.

chef Cristian Rebolledo

On September 29, 2014, I start this culinary dinner adventure with Chef Christian with a refreshing Tomato Gazpacho. For my second course, I am presented a too-beautiful-to-eat plate of beets salad. Edible flowers and micro greens create the look of an edible garden, drizzled with raindrops of pesto. (Too bad my nice camera fell in the water while kayaking earlier that day).

salad

Next comes the Corvina Tiradito, thin slices of fish fillet swimming in black milk are a drastic contrast to the colorful salad I just had, but the onion cream and lemon air add a bit of curiosity to the dish. The flavors are nontraditional to the average diner, but they work.

Sea Bass with spicy lentils and liquid gels

My favorite was the Duck Sensation with crumbled blue cheese and truffle honey, served over mushroom ragout and micro greens. The theme of “food art” was well played out throughout the dinner, as I enjoyed looking at the dishes as much as eating them.

One can’t go wrong with a good pumpkin soup, especially when it is made from scratch with locally sourced ingredients. The soup was garnished with pesto and chili sauce. It was not too rich and very flavorful.

A Sous Vide Sea Bass was served as sixth course. Light piece of fish on a bed of spicy curry lentils was a sophisticated dish on its own. With some French velouté sauce and mango gel, the journey got more exciting. I am not a big fan of Beef Tenderloin, but when properly cooked (meat is medium rare), and paired with mushrooms and shaved black truffles, there is no reason to leave a morsel on this plate.

Chef Cristian Rebolledo charmed me with more of his French culinary skills presenting the perfectly created Macaroons in three flavors – lemon, chocolate and vanilla!

french macrons

After a meal this luscious, I just wanted to take a long walk on the white sand beach, under the moonlight, allowing all my senses to soak in the experience.

Click here to see Kitchen 218’s recipes and cooking tips.

Taste of TCI Food Tour

Research shows that more than half the population choose their desired destination for vacation based on the food of that place. Now, before coming to the islands of Turks and Caicos, I knew very little about the island’s cuisine. My limited knowledge assumed that the food would be similar to other Caribbean islands, which mostly consists of locally available resources, such as tropical fruits, fresh seafood, rice, and some veggies.

During my stay in Providenciales, the largest commercially developed island, I booked a Taste of TCI Food Tour online. Mrs. Sheniqua, the proprietor of the tour company,  picked me up from my hotel at 11am, and we were off to conquest some of the culinary treasures of the island.

Sheniqua gave me an overview of the day, which restaurants will we be going to, and what we will be tasting there. As we drove around the island, she also pointed out sites of important significance, such as the original transportation sailboats, and ground for Thursday Fish Fry.

creamy conch chowder TCI
Creamy Conch Chowder

Our first stop is a small casual restart, Fresh Catch, centrally located at the Salt Mills Plaza. Sheniqua claims this is her favorite place for creamy conch chowder. The art to cooking conch is to harvest it, and eat it right away, Weather you are making conch salad, conch fritters or conch chowder, it will taste more flavorful and less rubbery. Fresh Catch also offers a Wednesday night seafood buffet for only $30 per person.

Next stop was Mr Grouper, who has received many awards for the best fish in town. The grouper we had was fried and had a nice crisp from the flour, bread crumbs and spices. It was served with baked macaroni and cheese pie, which was flavored with onions, spices, and light cheese, unlike its American counterpart.

Mr Grouper TCI food
Mr Grouper winner of “Best Fish & Best Conch”

Bendiciones near the airport was a Dominican Shack serving both Dominican and TCI dishes. We tried the chopped lobster in bell peppers, with okra rice, and fresh salad. The ambiance was not much, but the food made from the heart.

minced lobster
Minced Lobster with Okra Rice

Walking into Bugaloos island restaurant, I was greeted by Mr. Berlie “Bugaloo” Williams, himself standing in the garden. He was elderly, and walked with a stick, but he still held his fort everyday. Bugaloo started catching conch and made his truck into a Conch Shack. The concept caught on and he became well known all over the island. Now, he has a funky establishment, right at the waters edge. Guests come in to soak their feet in crystal clear waters, walk on the soft sandy beaches, grab a Laval Flow or Rum Punch, and munch away on the most talked about conch platter on the island.

Mr Bugaloos and Sheniqua from Taste of TCI Food Tour
Mr Bugaloos and Sheniqua from Taste of TCI Food Tour
Outdoor Seating at Bugaloos Restaurant
Outdoor Seating at Bugaloos Restaurant

Our last stop was for drinks and dessert. Flavors of the Turks and Caicos (aka FOTTAC) is a great place to buy locally made rums, beers, cakes, hot sauces, jams, teas and more. We do a little rum tasting of Bambarra Coconut Rum, 2 Year Old Silver Rum, and 8 Year Old Reserve Rum. I end up taking a bottle of the Reserve Rum, and 4 boxes of the most delicious Bambarra Chocolate Rum Cakes homes. They didn’t last very long!

Rum Tasting at FOTTAC
Rum Tasting at FOTTAC

Food tours are an educational and entertaining way to get to know the history and culture of the destination. I recommend doing the tour during your first or second day, so that you gain familiarity with the local dishes and restaurants. Then you will know exactly what to order during the rest of your stay.

The Taste of TCI Food Tour is a 3 hour walking, riding food tour visiting 5 locations that are native Turks & Caicos Islanders favorite spots to enjoy great food. Tickets are $99 per adult and advanced booking is required. The mix of restaurants picks changes regularly based on Sheniqua’s latest finds.

~ This tour was sponsored by Taste of TCI Food Tour

Trinidad: Small but Diverse

The country of Trinidad, sometimes called the “rainbow island,” has a reputation of incredible diversity in regards to its music, food, and population. Located just eleven kilometers off the coast of Venezuela, Trinidad has a total population of 1.3 million. The makeup of its people ranges from African and East Indian, to European, and a variety of overlap of all of these. The main religion of the island is Roman Catholic, with Protestantism, Islam, and Hinduism also practiced.

Location of Trinidad
Location of Trinidad

History:

The original name for the island was “Iëre,” or Land of the Humming Bird, but Christopher Columbus changed it upon his arrival in 1498 to “La Isla de la Trinidad,” or The Island of the Holy Trinity. Today, Trinidad is a thriving Caribbean nation that bases much of its economy on gas-based export.

Although native Amerindians originally populated the island, Spanish, British, and French forces came to colonize it. They shipped the native Amerindians off to other colonies in the Caribbean to work and over time imported mass amounts of African slaves to labor on sugar plantations. After the British abolished slavery, indentured laborers were imported from India, China, and the Middle East. In 1889, England joined Trinidad to the nearby Tobago as an administrative ward, with which it stayed connected even after its independence from England in 1962. Over time, the descendants of the many non-native groups came together and fused their cultures, creating a melting pot that is the status quo in Trinidad today.

Culture:

All throughout the year, festivals take place that represent a variety of Trinidadian culture. Many of these festivals celebrate religious holidays, while others celebrate the traditions, customs, and music of Trinidad. The more popular religious festivals include Santa Rosa Festival, Christmas, Easter, Divali, and the Muslim celebration Eid Ul Fitr. There are multiple festivals that are based around the music of the Caribbean, such as Carnivale, J’ouvert and the national steel pan competition Panorama. In addition, the people of Trinidad also celebrate festivals pertaining to their history and customs, such as Emancipation Day and Arrival Day. No matter what time of year, there is sure to be a celebration happening in the streets of Trinidad.

Diwali in Trinidad
Diwali in Trinidad

Food:

The food of Trinidad is just as diverse as its population. Its history of colonization and labor importation led to a cuisine that contains a vast array of influences, including East Indian, Spanish, African, Chinese, and Middle Eastern. The most well known is Creole, a cuisine developed from robust stews and one pot comfort foods brought to the island by African slaves. Signature Creole dishes include pelau (a spicy dish consisting of meat, rice, and pigeon peas), macaroni pie (baked macaroni and cheese), and callaloo (a stew made with leaf vegetable, coconut milk, crab, chili pepper, lobster and many more). Another popular form of cuisine is street food, such as barbecue and jerk meats, homemade ice cream and coconut water.

Famous doubles with chickpeas
Famous doubles with chickpeas

Music:

Like much of the Caribbean, Trinidad has a lively music scene. Many varieties of music in Trinidad are a result of its historical influences, such as African and Indian based folk and classical forms. However, the mixing of cultures has led to the development of several indigenous forms of music as well, including soca, rapso, parang, chutney, and other derivative and fusion styles. The steelpan drum , a chromatically pitched percussion instrument made from  55 gallon drums that formerly contained oil and similar substances, also originated on the island. Oftentimes, local communities fuse the steelpan with international classical and pop music. The music of Trinidad provides something for every taste, once again illustrating the diversity of the culture of Trinidad.

Trinidad can be characterized as a beautiful Caribbean nation with a population whose spirit is just as impressive. The people are friendly and upbeat, and filled with a pride so strong that they celebrate almost constantly. The music, food, and ethnicity of the small island combine to create a culture that gives anyone visiting a vast amount to experience. I know I would love to see firsthand the diversity of this small Caribbean nation. On July 19, Go Eat Give is hosting Destination Trinidad at Tassa Roti Shop in metro Atlanta, where the public can witness live music, speakers and an authentic Trinidad buffet. For more information about this event, click here.

~ By Allie Williams, a recent graduate of the University of Georgia. Allie explores her passion for food, travel, and learning about different cultures though her internship with Go Eat Give.

World’s first four sustainable tourism destinations

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has put together a brand-new set of criteria that will help put travel destinations, not just hotels, restaurants or airlines, on the path toward social, cultural, and environmental sustainability. Continue reading “World’s first four sustainable tourism destinations”