An "interesting" excursion: a story from 2012

Questions and comment outside the scope of the above topic groups
Post Reply
AshleyMills
myTobago Groupie
myTobago Groupie
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: London
Contact:

An "interesting" excursion: a story from 2012

Post by AshleyMills »

I went to Tobago back in 2012 but browsed the forum recently just to check-up what the current situation was and something I was reading reminded me of a funny thing that happened to us in 2012 I’d like to share.

We were staying in Charlotteville during our first week and wanted to go and visit the Cocoa Plantation. We’d been reading these tourist books which insist to “always use a certified taxi” and “goto the tourist information” to find this out.

We went to the tourist information place in Charlotteville, which bear in mind is supposedly legit. We ask the woman if she can call us a taxi and she says yes.

We’re waiting around for about 30 minutes and the woman says the taxi has turned up.

Outside waiting is some guy in an old toyota that’s been slammed to the floor and has buju-banton pumping out at full volume. The guy in the front with backward baseball cap on says he’s the taxi.

We say “hold on a sec” and go back into the tourist information. We ask the woman “where’s the real taxi?” And she says something like “there was some problem with the real taxi so I called my brother-in-law instead.”

In my mind is the tourist book saying “never get in an unlicensed taxi”, and we’re all kind of having doubts and freaking out, but we’ve waited around now for 30 minutes and there are 4 of us so we just decide to go for it.

And that’s how the best tour we had in Tobago began.

The driver introduces himself as Curtis. We negotiate a rate for the entire day that seems ridiculously cheap in retrospect, but he’s happy with it.

He asks us where we want to go, and we say the Cocoa plantation. He drives us up there, and it feels like the car is bouncing around the place with the music still pumping out. Curtis seems super-relaxed about the whole affair.

When we arrive at the Cocoa plantation it transpires that Curtis has never been in, we encourage him to come along, and the owners say he can come in for free. So we all have a look around the Cocoa plantation and it’s pretty cool.

After this we went to a few different locations but I can’t quite remember where. The next memorable event occurs when my sister, who spent a lot of time in the Philippines, decides she wants fresh coconuts. She asks Curtis if there is anywhere local that sells coconuts.

Curtis thinks for a minute and I think I remember him speaking to himself something like “I’m not sure he’s still there, we’ll have a look”. So we drive off into the middle of nowhere and stop at some random house by the side of the road.

Curtis goes up, and then he comes back with some dude with a machete with a cataract covering his eye or it was damaged, not sure which. Don’t get me wrong, the man was nice, but this was all a little bizarre and slightly un-nerving at the time. In anycase, the man gets out a rickety ladder and goes and gets us some fresh coconuts.

“Would you like some rum in those?” he asks. “Sure, why not” we respond.

Taking a drink from the rum-filled coconuts we are all slightly taken aback by how strong it tastes. “I made this myself” the man says, “we call it bush rum!”. This sounds funny now, but at the time I was thinking in the back of my mind “I hope I don’t go blind”.

Are you thinking this couldn’t get any stranger? Well, think again.

As we are standing by the side of the road, drinking bush-rum from coconuts with a man with a machete that looks like a pirate, a motorcade approaches down the road we are on. Now, this isn’t a particularly busy road. We’ve perhaps seen one other vehicle in the last ten minutes.

This big SUV with blacked-out windows pulls up and the window comes down and a woman wearing a smart suit is sitting in the passenger seat.

“I’m the minister of tourism!” the woman says. “How are you finding Tobago?”

We say it’s great but say we don’t think that Charlotteville should be developed, since it was the time when the marina was being proposed, and I think some people had already been evicted.

After some discussion the woman says goodbye and the vehicle drives off.

“That was Shoppin Toppin” says one of our hosts.

Apparently this politician had been involved in some kind of scandal and was known to the locals by this name.

I can’t remember how the day ended, but this had to be one of the most bizarre yet enjoyable days we had on the island during our stay.

So the moral of the story? Should you take only licensed taxis? Maybe. Or maybe you’ll have a more authentic experience taking your chances with a local. We certainly did.
GillianM
Getting Hooked
Getting Hooked
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:49 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Contact:

Re: An "interesting" excursion: a story from 2012

Post by GillianM »

This is the essence of Tobago. I am glad you found it.
User avatar
Steve Wooler
myTobago Editor & Chief Anorak
myTobago Editor & Chief Anorak
Posts: 4807
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 11:00 pm
Location: Suffolk, England
Contact:

Re: An "interesting" excursion: a story from 2012

Post by Steve Wooler »

Hi Ashley

Gillian echoes my own sentiments. You recount events that mirror my own experiences and explain why so many of us fall in love with Tobago.
Steve Wooler
myTobago.info - the definitive Visitor Guide to Tobago
User avatar
Kurt.Halfyard
myTobago Nut
myTobago Nut
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:15 pm
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Re: An "interesting" excursion: a story from 2012

Post by Kurt.Halfyard »

This story was a fun read! We have had many stories like it: Being led into the jungle towards highland falls by some 12 year old kids with machetes and a dog.

Driving a really old guy with a cane up that crazy hill in Charlotte and then having to back our station wagon all the way down.

Hitching a boat at random and a guy delivering our stuff to pirates bay and giving us the harbour tour for $20. That absolutely surreal experience of Food4U in Canaan, with owner/chef Derek.

A spontaneous (drunken) game of baseball with underripe oranges on the beach, with some college students up from Trinidad for the weekend.

Nearly tipping a small jeep driving the mot mot trail, and having a gentlemen walk past us (also with a dog) smiling that he was making better time on food than we were in a vehicle

Tobago thrives on serendipity.
GillianM
Getting Hooked
Getting Hooked
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:49 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Contact:

Re: An "interesting" excursion: a story from 2012

Post by GillianM »

Yes-wonderful stories!
Myself...Hitching a ride with a dumpster lorry from Moriah to Golden lane and finding ourselves backed over a cliff as the driver dropped off his load(at least he wasn't smoking); being in a car with a live sheep in the boot kicking seven bells out of it; coming back from Sunday School with a very drunk local who got wedged between the back and front seats bottom first and couldn't be pulled out; being given a tour down the little paths between the local houses in Black Rock...joining in a table tennis game in a back yard, being invited on to the a balcony of a house and shown an incredible Humming Bird extravaganza; saving an old man from the sea near Castara when his boat overturned and towing him to safety; following machete wielding guides to get to local waterfalls; I could go on for ever. I miss it so much.
Post Reply

Return to “General Questions & Comment”