Columbus discovered Trinidad on Tuesday 31st of July 1498 on his third voyage. It is not certain why Columbus named Trinidad after the Holy Trinity, some say it was because he had entrusted this voyage to the Holy Trinity, others say it was because he had made a promise to name the first land he say in honor of the Holy Trinity. Whatever the reason Trinidad was named after the Holy Trinity.
The word “discovered” is often seen as contentious when applied to Columbus on two counts. Firstly, in a purely technical sense there were already native Indians who called the Americas home. Secondly, it seems Eurocentric and tends to imply that history starts from the day Europeans arrived. Regardless Columbus’ “discovery” marks the start of the modern history of the region and the event ushered in the forces which would shape what we see today.
Over the years Trinidad became a haven for smugglers and pirates. The Spaniards lost the island to the British which in turn made it into a sugar colony. Important events include the emancipation of slaves in 1834, the beginning of indentured labor schemes in 1852 which bought Chinese and East Indians to Trinidad
In 1608 James I claimed sovereignty over Tobago and for the next 200 years Tobago changed hands like a hot potato between the Dutch, the French and the English. Estimates of the number of changeovers range between 22 and 32. Among those who tried to settle the island were the Courlanders, (from Latvia), but for most of the 17th and 18th Centuries Tobago was a haven for pirates. In 1763 Tobago was ceded to the British by the French, and the land was divided into parishes and sold.
Oil was discovered in the 20th century and over time oil and oil related exports came to dominate the economy and transformed much of populace from a rural to an urban one.
Besides oil another important event was the establishment of U.S. bases on the island in 1941. This was agreed to in exchange for 50 destroyers which at the time were sorely needed by an overstretched Britain. These bases included a large chunk of the Chaguaramas Peninsular as well as an air base at Wallerfield. The G. I.’s injected American culture and money into a stagnant economy and shifted the focus of country from Britain to the U.S.
After the war independence seemed inevitable and as a precursor Britain tried a brief political experiment called the British West Indian Federation. This attempted to unify the various islands under one political and economic umbrella but internal tensions soon surfaced and the group split. Led by Dr. Eric Williams Trinidad and Tobago became an independent member of the Commonwealth on 31st of August 1962. Later, on the 1st of August 1976 Trinidad and Tobago became a presidential republic within the Commonwealth.
The petro dollars and tourism made what is Trinidad today, a modern society with the entire luggage that goes with it. Trinidadians and Tobagonians have a relaxed approach to life and the live by that they have 24hrs a day to do nothing and not enough time to do it. A true perfection of “mañana.”
Let’s “lime” or let’s go “liming” means “hang out”. To “lime” is to casually engage in a social get together. You lime six days a week and rest the seventh day unless it fall on a public holiday and so it goes again.
The population of Trinidad is made mainly of Indians and African, hence, by fusion, the Indians have lost their trade mark of waving the head sideways for a new rhythm, “the wine”. “Wine” like “wine de hips” is to turn your waist in a suggestive manner while dancing.
During different phases of its history, the Spanish, French and British relied on the island’s original inhabitants, the Amerindians, for labor as well as workforces from Africa, India and China. The people of the Middle East and Portugal also came, and in recent times, American society has influenced the island’s trends. These regions, with their distinctive cultures and culinary traditions, have all had a hand in creating the delectable mélange that is Trinidad’s cuisine.
Bake and shark, is the flagship of Trinidad’s unusual cuisine. Deep-fried pieces of shark are nestled between two slices of fried bake (fried dough) and topped with your choice of condiments and relishes. You can choose from tomatoes, cucumbers, pineapple, ketchup, mustard, tartar sauce, tamarind sauce, garlic sauce, oyster sauce and pepper sauce. I tried it minus the bread and it was good.
Locals stew or curry agouti, iguana, possum, lappe, wild hog and armadillo and after a few rums I might give it a go.