Our bus ride the length of Tobago was our first real glimpse at the TnT culture. The public bus. The bus itself, was nice enough,even as it bolted through hairpin turns on a road not wide enough to share.
The people of TnT love their music. So much so that they insist on blasting it at max volume, no matter what form of technology they are using to transmit the sound. Cell phones pumping out a tinny version of Eminem or a mix of hard to understand rap provided our obnoxious entertainment. The school kids, boys, mostly around 14 or 15 years old, seemed to use this as a form of posturing among their peers – with total disregard for those around them. This disregard proved to be an underlying thread in their personality as it seeped into their treatment of elders. Not once did a kid offer to give up his seat to the old ladies fighting their way onto an overcrowded bus. To the contrary, they pushed their way to the front of the mob, blocking out elders from getting on the bus before them.
We were headed to Speyside – the place in Tobago to dive. It is a quaint village spread out along the east coast of the island, built into the hillside down to the ocean. Though our sleep was disturbed by the blaring thump of music playing for the two people in the bar outside our apartment, we grew a liking to the town. After checking out the three dive shops, we were hooked up with local divemaster, Spencer, through Tencent, whom we met on the ferry.
Despite his slightly annoying overselling the safety and “good time”, Spencer was definitely the right choice for diving. We were safe, and we did have a good time.
Dinner with locals, Jace and Sharon in their home was the highlight of our 4 day visit. Enough local fare for 10 people, and a taste of “puncheon” made it a night to remember. In that one evening, high on the hill overlooking the ocean, we learned of the politics, rasta lifestyle and true hospitality of Tobago.
We went to Tobago hoping to find pristine beaches and clear water, you know…. “as advertised.” We’re of the thought that those pictures are either doctored to show what Tobago will look like in 10 years, or are past their time showing what the island looked like 10 or 20 years ago. We’re still unsure whether it’s a has-been or a will-be. It’s also possible that all of the crystal beaches have been bought up by American all-inclusive resorts for vacationers with a thick wallet. That Tobago might be a place for you to put a star beside, along with other islands in the West Indies. As a backpacker, it has a way to go to make it a destination worth exploring.