newcomers from Canada

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Denise
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newcomers from Canada

Post by Denise »

We are from Canada and going to Tobago in January for 6 weeks, staying at the Baywatch Apartments. We have never been, so it is all new to us. If someone can please help me with this:
1- Can we drink the tap water?
2.Are mosquitoes an issue so that we need to bring repellent?
3.We are meat lovers as opposed to seafood/fish. Is there beef/ pork available for purchase?
Most of the food items are very unfamiliar to us and when researching, the restaurants don't have menus so we are kind of in the dark. We are planning on doing most of our own cooking but also eating out occasionally

Thank you for helping
Denise
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Steve Wooler
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Re: newcomers from Canada

Post by Steve Wooler »

Hello Denise

Welcome aboard! :D

1) Yes, it is safe to drink the tap water in Tobago. However, in my experience, many/most people can experience minor stomach/digestive issues when drinking tap water away from their home region. So, my advice is that for the first few days, just limit your intake of local water to small amounts, such as while cleaning your teeth, etc. to allow your body to adjust. The only problem I have ever encountered with the water in Tobago (other than when it is switched off for some reason or other) is that every few weeks they purge the pipes with chemicals that are safe to drink, but which I find leave a strong metallic taste that ruins food for me. Some people never even notice this taste.

2) Mosquitoes can be a problem anywhere in the tropics. We seem to have built up immunity over the years and aren't troubled - but some poor individuals seem particularly susceptible to mosquitoes and sandflies (no-seeums). So, yes, bring a good stock of repellent and some anti-histamine cream for treatment of bites.

3) Yes, there is lots of beef available. Pork is available, but less common. As you are staying at Baywatch, you will have wonderful hosts in the form of Kurt and Ivy and they will be delighted to steer you in the right direction for both shopping, restaurants and local information generally.

Have a great trip. You are in for a treat.
Steve Wooler
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Re: newcomers from Canada

Post by PaulMakin »

Nothing to add to Steve's response other than that you may find food items in larger supermarkets not as unfamiliar as you might think. My "big shop" is a mix of local produce and supermarket, much of which is imported (often from the US).

repellents sold locally are limited - "Off!" is usually available but most versions still contain varying degrees of DEET which some would prefer to avoid. Odomos is also quite widely available and is said to be a natural product, independently certified effective against carriers of Dengue, Chikungunya, Malaria, etc. like Steve and Mrs Steve I seem to be unattractive to mosquitos but i keep a tube handy for visitors
Denise
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Re: newcomers from Canada

Post by Denise »

Thank you both for your reply, greatly appreciated
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Re: newcomers from Canada

Post by Chris Runciman »

They are not really a big issue any more than sitting by any water at night anywhere. Scotland, Scandanavia...especially Finland are worse at night in the summer.
Anti histamine works a treat. Take ample supplies, carry it with you and dab it on as soon as you think you have been bitten.
Mossies like dark clothes and dark places, strong perfumes/anti perspirants seem to attract them.
I eat Marmite as the vitamin B seems to lessen the effect of any bite. They also seem to like women more than men so sit close to your partner...........Bites below the knee are usually sandflies, DO NOT scratch them as although it feels really good to do it just makes them worse! Local people do get bitten as well. Long pants at night is a good idea that is what local people do. They are not strong fliers, God has a sense of humour, so any breeze keeps them away(ish!). Do not let them affect your stay on Tobago, they are NOT an issue!
Denise
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Re: newcomers from Canada

Post by Denise »

Thanks, I will be sure to pack the Afterbite

Another question.....Is it advisable to purchase a sim card in Tobago or should I get one before we leave. Do you know the cost and where to buy one? Looking mainly for data.
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Re: newcomers from Canada

Post by Steve Wooler »

Hi Denise

It depends entirely upon how much you are likely to need to use a phone while you are in Tobago. You are most unlikely to need one for 'local' calls. If you need to ring and book a restaurant, I'm sure that Kurt would happily do it for you or let you use his landline/cellphone. If its calls to/from home, then I would check with your provider to confirm that they have roaming agreements with Trinidad & Tobago, then ensure that your account has lots of credit and accept the hit of roaming charges.

If you anticipate frequent or lengthy overseas calls, then a local SIM might be a good idea. You won't be able to buy want before you arrive - nor will you be able to buy one in Castara. However, coming from Canada you will be arriving in Tobago early morning so you will be able to get one on your way to Castara. How are you getting to Castara? If Kurt or someone is collecting you, he can stop off at one of the phone company stores and help you to get a SIM. If you are hiring a car at/near the airport, we can give you directions to a store here.
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Denise
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Re: newcomers from Canada

Post by Denise »

Hi Steve, I guess the Sim card is the least of my problems. I tried to purchase TTD$ here today and found that there is none to be found at any of the currency exchange places. Are we able to use U.S.$ in Tobago or are we able to exchange U.S.$ for a reasonable rate at a bank there? What is your suggestion?
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Re: newcomers from Canada

Post by Steve Wooler »

Hi Denise

It doesn't surprise me, to be honest. Yes, you will be able to use US$ in T&T.

How are you getting to Tobago? If your flight is via Piacrco (POS) in Trinidad and you have a few hours wait for your flight to Tobago, then you will be able to pay in USD and/or change currency at the airport. However, the rates won't be the best. Hopefully you are being met at the airport, in which case the driver will be able to stop at a bank directly enroute to Castara.

Be warned that queuing in banks can waste good holiday time. My preferred option is to use my credit or debit card at ATM machines. There are numerous ATMs around Tobago (see the Money Matters section of our Information menu above) including one in Castara (not always reliable). Shopping around and you might be able to open a credit card with a bank/provider that doesn't make charges for cash withdrawals - and, of course, it is essential to have a credit or zero balance so that you aren't being ripped off with interest charges.
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Re: newcomers from Canada

Post by Denise »

Thanks Steve. Our flight stops in Trinidad for 2 hours so I guess we can exchange some money there, but like you said the rate of exchange will not be great. Do the banks take kindly to exchanging cash? Not sure what you meant by a waste of time.
We are hoping that Kurt will pick us up so that he many be able to stop somewhere for money exchange.
As for tipping, if at a restaurant, do you leave the tip on the table or do you discreetly hand it to the server?
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Re: newcomers from Canada

Post by Steve Wooler »

Hi Denise

When I say waste of time, I am referring to spending time in a long queue waiting to be dealt with by some rude surly cashier (Tobago bank cashier's are second only to American customs officials in terms of their ability to be rude without saying much). Using the ATMs is much quicker and avoids the serious attitude problems.

Check out the 'Showing Appreciation' article in the 'Money Matters' section of the Information menu for a fuller (personal) discussion on tipping. Discreetly handing to the server is always best.
Steve Wooler
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Re: newcomers from Canada

Post by shwarl4life »

Do you like chicken? You can get the best fried chicken known to modern civilization in tobago!
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Re: newcomers from Canada

Post by Hugh S »

If you are bringing $US you can get a better exchange rate from locals - $7 vs $6. Some businesses are offering the better exchange rate now too. Your host may be able to help.
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