Friday, 7 October 2011

Freaky, Stalker, Security Guard Lady!

Good looks are a blessing and a curse!

I have a penchant for attracting older women as they find me charming, funny, well-mannered and easy on the eyes. Usually, we end up talking or unintentionally flirting and I'm OK with that. Aside from a woman once telling me that she would kidnap me, take me home, put me in a glass case and just look at me everyday, nothing has ever really come out of these "attractions"- that was until I met Ornella. Following is a blog post about my newest admirer, a security guard who works in the hospital across the street.

I first met Ornella in the pharmacy at the end of my street. At first I didn't really notice her presence as I was late for class, worried about my pending assignments and just wanted to buy my mints and be on my way. My less than pleasant demeanour seemed to arouse her curiosity as she turned to me and smiled. She was a short, burly, black lipped woman of East Indian descent who was dressed in her Amalgamated security uniform with her gun on her side, bullet proof vest fastened who looked at me from head to toe as I asked for one dollar in mints. As I paid for my mints and turned to leave, she shifted slightly in front the door and started to talk to me:

Ornella: Who vex yuh?
Me: Nothing! (I was particularly annoyed because I hate when people think that because you're not smiling "somebody vex yuh")
Ornella: Well smile nah, yuh too handsome to be looking so vex!

Against my better judgement, I smiled and said thank you. On turning around after I had left the pharmacy, I saw Ornella waving at me and smiling which I assumed was normal behaviour.

Two weeks passed before I saw Ornella again. This time she was in front the pharmacy smoking a cigarette which repulsed me and helped me to understand why her lips were so black. Suddenly she was walking beside me, telling me about working a double shift that had started the night before and how tired she felt. She seemed to think that the fact that I was entertaining her meant that we were friends and proceeded to ask me my name, after telling me that hers was Ornella. I could have felt my inner-Garvin screaming at me to give her a fake name and that was exactly what I did. As far as Ornella knows, my name is Micheal and I attend UTT. I made nothing of this encounter because I kept on telling myself that I was being overly dramatic and paranoid. I started to notice that after the second encounter, I would always see Ornella either smoking a cigarette in front the pharmacy or standing around the hospital which was understandable since she worked there. She would always make small talk with me and would wave whilst, I would walk by quickly because I couldn't shake the weird vibe that I got from her. Daddy always says, "Follow yuh vibes!" and once again, my vibes were right.

I had taken a week long sabbatical from UWI -it's a tradition- and I was making my re-emergence to the hallowed halls of CLL when Ornella justified the vibes that I had had. This time, she opted to not stand at her usual spot but come out of a track to the side of a house, two houses away from mine. I was therefore, startled to see her standing next to me in all her female security guard glory, fully equipped with her smelly bullet proof vest and a gormless grin.

Ornella: "Micheal!" (all cheery)
Me: "Hi!" (all skeptical)
Ornella: "I like yuh shirt!" Then, "How come yuh didn't go to school last week?"
Me: "How do you know that I didn't go to school?" (skepticism mingled with fear)
Ornella: "Cuz I eh see you pass when you usually do! I was worried but then, I used to see you in yuh gallery sometimes." (smiles)

Time seemed to stop for an eternity as I grappled with everything that she had just said. She knew where I lived, when I went to school and when I went out into my gallery? Maybe, she's just really observant given her job? Maybe, she happened to be standing outside on that one day when I went outside? I mean, it's totally coincidental that she ran into me on that day or that she happened to be close by whenever I was walking out of my street. Normal people do that! However, my reasoning gave way to my imagination and a scene emerged:

There I was tied to a chair in my birthday suit, my eyes darting to and fro searching for the source of the mad cackle. Ornella walks towards me, a knife in hand, smiling and telling me about the fact that she loved me from the moment she saw me in the pharmacy. My nice, pink lips called out to her and she knew that she needed to have me. She starts licking my face, her hands caressing my body as I whimper in disgust. She jumps back, enraged and begins wielding her knife like a warrior. She screams at me about just wanting to be loved by a man and she had foolishly thought that I was that man. But alas, I'm just like the other men; disgusted by her very touch, disgusted by her. The light bounces off the knife as Ornella brings it down once, twice, three times... AHHHH!

Given the little scene that had just played out in my head, I decided it was time to get off of Ornella's radar. I've resorted to changing my routine and leaving the house at different times. It's highly possible that my tactics may not work since, from what I've seen on T.V., stalkers are DEDICATED and RESOURCEFUL. I'm patiently awaiting the day that I come home to find Ornella sitting in my living room with my family at 6PM for our prayer meeting. Until that day comes, I'll settle for Ornella's stares from the hospital's dark corridors. Oh joy!

Until the next post!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Curfew Almost Got Me!

I'm too cute for jail!

It was Friday, August 26th, 2011, the time was 8:15PM and I was on the bus route, in a maxi taxi freaking out. I'm accustomed to finding myself in these situations but this time around, it started with a good intention. Earlier that day, I realised that the following week would have been my last week at work and that I had a lot of newspapers to archive. Being the suck up that I am, I decided to stay back after work to archive some of the articles. Admittedly, the SoE and the curfew that my dear Aunty Kamla called upon the country were the furthest things from my mind; I live in a "cold spot" so, if I am in Sangre Grande after 9PM, the police can't lock me up. Back to the story... there I was, listening to Adele (AWESOME) and chatting with a co-worker as we sorted and archived the newspaper articles. On two occasions, he told that I should go home but I shrugged him off and boldly told him with the slightest hint of an attitude, "Ahm... I, unlike you, don't live in a "hot spot". It will have Grande maxis in City Gate. Doh worry!" Little did I know that thirty minutes later, I would be eating those words.

I have a problem when it comes to leaving somewhere, in that, I tend to do unnecessary things or 'spin' before I leave. Thus, I didn't leave the Ministry until 7:25PM because I had to 'sexify', making sure that I looked presentable to face the world beyond the ministerial walls. As I walked unto the pavement on South Quay, I knew that something was wrong; aside from the pungent, Beetham- esque scent that permeated the air, there were a lot of people waiting for transportation. Men, women and children were all standing, looking agitated and/ or anxious as they clutched shopping bags that contained merchandise from their trip to downtown Port- of- Spain. A black "taxi" pulled up and it was immediately pounced upon by the people who had tapped into their animalistic side. Only four people got in; the others walked away, heads bowed in rejection as they resumed their previous positions. I quickened my pace to City Gate as my heart started racing and my palms started sweating.

Looking down at the maxi taxi lanes from the second floor in City Gate did nothing to alleviate my nerves. There were so much people and little or NO maxi taxis; I was truly alarmed by now and stupidly sent a text to my Mom reading, "It have no maxis in City Gate. I dunno what to do?" I was so nonplussed that when my mother called to buff me for my obviously stupid decision to stay that late after work, I couldn't string two sentences together. I had to calm myself and at least, try to think rationally and figure out my alternatives. Since I couldn't teleport or turn into a soucouyant and fly to Sangre Grande, I decided my best bet was to go to Arima and hope to God that I could get a taxi to Grande BEFORE 9PM. When I relayed this to my mother, she agreed and said that she would call me back. Now that I had a possible solution, another problem presented itself- I, Garvin Tafari Parsons, would have to- wait for it- RUSH for a maxi taxi. *FAINTS* Anyone who has travelled with me knows that I RARELY rush for maxi taxis. There is something wholly uncivilized and belittling about it so, I refrain from such activities. As I was pondering my latest predicament, a maxi pulled up and the driver pushed his head out the window and bellowed, "ARIMA, ARIMA!" It was a split second decision and I could be seen a split second later, running with 20 or more people to get a seat on the 24-seater maxi taxi. It was embarrassing, interesting and fulfilling all at the same time; I mean, I beat like eight people to get into the maxi before the last four seats were occupied. *cups hand to ear* Do I hear applause?

I thought that having gotten a seat in the maxi that my nerves would have settled but, I seemed more nettled than ever and the occupants in the maxi didn't really help improve my mental state. There was this woman who kept talking to her friend in the seat behind her in one of the loudest, most obnoxious voices I have ever heard. Then, there was the guy sitting in the seat in front of me who thought it necessary to play music in the maxi as though anyone cared that he had an extensive Kartel playlist on his Blackberry. I tried to ignore them and pray as the time changed from 8:05PM to 8:06PM on the maxi clock and the maxi stopped SIX times between Port- of- Spain and San Juan. My mother continued calling me to see where I was and I kept on assuring her that I could get a taxi in Arima before 9PM. My assurances, however, did nothing to alleviate the knots in my stomach and it was only after the guy in the front seat answered his phone and spoke to his friend that I grasped the gravity of my situation. Following is an abridged version of the conversation well, the part that I heard anyway.

Guy: "Yeah hoss, I just pass San Juan!"
Friend answers.
Guy: "Wheys, Arima almost empty? So, no car to go Grande or wha'?"
Friend answers.
Guy: "Wait! People walkin' to the end of Arima to escape the curfew?"
Friend answers.
Guy: "Well, I go hadda do that too yes! I doh know nobody down here really."

After hearing that one-sided conversation, several memories and scenarios started running through my mind. I remembered two friends, telling me of instances where their friends were seen in Arima after 9PM and taken to the police station to spend the night. I remembered a radio broadcast earlier that day which said that persons caught in a "hot spot" after the curfew hours could be held for up to FIFTEEN days under some Anti- Gang Act. I mean, have you seen ME? I AM TOO CUTE FOR JAIL! A scenario started to play out in my head, one where I was the 'bitch' of some burly, tattooed prison inmate named Spider. He would spank me and rub my bald head before he fondled with my boy parts and penetrated me! Hell to the NO! I, unlike the guy in the front seat, knew people down on that side so, I texted a friend asking him if I could spend the night. I could have called but I didn't want everyone to know my business. Naturally, he said yes and relief flooded my insides and I hastily pressed the bell, signaling to the driver that I would take it at Curepe Junction; I all but RAN from that maxi taxi.

It was 8:30PM and I was walking into a friend's house, counting my blessings and laughing at my predicament. I learned several things that night: 1) it pays to have a friend that lives close to the bus route and by extension, Port- of- Spain, 2) always, always walk with extra money, 3) I should start to put a kit in my school bag with all my toiletries and extra underwear because with this SoE and curfew business, one NEVER knows where they'll end up and 4) although I live in a "cold spot", I still have to pass through a "hot spot" to get home so, I should hasten home nontheless.

Until the next post!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

People of the Maxi Taxi


The maxi taxi is a popular means of transportation on the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. They can come in different colours and sizes and can be seen all over the country. The maxi taxi is a place where you can encounter the strangest, most sickening people especially if you travel the Sangre Grande- Port- of- Spain route- yes, I'm biased! Having been away for a year, I forgot just how annoying and disgusting some people can be while travelling so much so that I was sometimes appalled by the behaviour of these people. This blog will highlight all the types of people I've met and I'm pretty sure that you've encountered some of them yourself.

1) The Sleeper

There's something about travelling in a comfortable, air- conditioned maxi that just puts me to sleep. I can be asleep and no one knows unless of course, you look at me and notice that my eyes are closed. The same cannot be said for The Sleeper. The Sleeper can be male or female, big or small, black or white but they all have something in common, that is, the disturbing and disruptive way in which they sleep. They're the ones who sit in the front, heads back with mouth agape, snoring for the whole world to hear. They're the ones who sit next to you and have the audacity to sleep on your shoulder with their gel or grease filled heads, sullying your well- ironed shirt. Don't you dare shrug the Sleeper off because they will watch you 'cut eye' and/ or 'steups' because your shoulder is a substitution for their pillow at home. On the rare occasion that the Sleeper collides with one of those uncomfortable side seats, it can make for an interesting ride. The acrobatics that you see are sometimes mind boggling and hilarious, as their heads go swinging from side to side or their bodies double over on the seat. Ah yes!

2) The Talker

I thought I was talkative that is, until I met the Talker. The Talker feels the need to have uncomfortable, unnecessary and personal conversations on their cell phones for everyone in the maxi taxi to hear. I remember sitting in front of a Talker as she told her friend about her 'man' problems. Apparently, she done wid she man because he cyah cook, he does cuss she and he does only tickle she in the night. Her friend, confused by the concept of a man tickling her friend at night probably asked, "Buh, wha' you talkin' bout girl?" At which point, her charming, graceful friend answered, "Oh gosh gyul, he prick small!" and laughed scandalously. I wasn't the only one that was appalled by her behaviour, the maxi taxi driver looked at her from his mirror and shook his head whilst an old lady pursed her lips, tutted and mumbled something about 'the young people these days'. On another occasion, a young lady was sitting next to me, talking about some nasty (her words, not mine) relative of hers who loved to borrow money from her and re-pay when she wanted to. If the Talker, however, were to borrow money from the relative, she wouldn't hear the end of it. She went on to talk about her relative's lack of work, how she was seen ironing a shirt that morning as though she was going to look for work and how she, the Talker, was going to cancel her FCB online banking because the relative knew the password. TMI much? I mentioned two female versions of the Talker but please note that there is a male version out there. His modus operandi- M.O. for you simple minds- is a bit different; he sits next to you and on hearing some tidbit on the news or seeing something interesting outside, he taps you on the foot and mutters something weird while you laugh awkwardly so as not to hurt his feelings. I try putting on my 'guntha' face but it never works because I seem to have a sunny disposition. Oh joy!

3) The Farter

Air- conditioned maxis, once fully operational, are a God send given the uncharacteristically (whoa, that's a long word) hot days that we've been having lately. I just love sitting back with my eyes closed allowing the cold breeze to wash over me. It's usually when I'm most relaxed that the Farter strikes! He/ she is impeccably dressed; their nice clothes covering the stink that resides within. The fart confuses you at first then, your nose starts burning and you feel the urge to climb over the other passengers and claw your way to the nearest window; escape your only motive. I detest the Farters the most because they're disgusting and you never know who they are! Can't you simply hold it in? - I assure you, it won't kill ya! Can't you take regular purge packs from the pharmacy? - They're only $3.00! Something MUST be wrong in this region *signals emphatically to his stomach* because no human should be able to produce those life threatening odours. I think that: 1) farting in air-conditioned maxis should be a CRIMINAL OFFENCE, punishable by DEATH and 2) when someone farts in a maxi, their face should light up in a fluorescent shade of green or pink while a whistling sound emits from their ears or a loud voice yells, "FARTER, FARTER!" and a BIG, SHINY arrow appears overhead, pointing down at him/her. You know what? I blasted VEX! I need some Chai tea or whatever tea calms you down. STEUPS!

4) The Stinker

I remember when I was younger, before I had discovered the joys of wearing deodorant; I had a small odour problem. On noticing this, my father sent me to the bathroom and came in with a lime with the intention of rubbing it under my arm to 'cut the scent'. I was EMBARRASSED and I VOWED to never let that happen to me again. From then, "Cleanliness is Next to Godliness" became one of my mantras. The Stinker has never heard that mantra nor has he/she had a father like mine. The most unnatural scents seem to emerge from their armpits or possibly, other orifices of their body. If not, they're sweaty from walking to City Gate in the afternoon sun and sit next to you, rubbing their sweaty selves on you. Ewwww!

Did I forget any people of the maxi taxi? Let me know in your comments. Until the next post!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Random Thoughts of A Garvin

Blogging from my head...

My head hurts... I can't focus... I have so much thoughts running through my head. I feel a little confused and I don't know how to stop the buzzing of my brain. "Why not write a blog about it?"- I thought. But, I couldn't! My blogs always have a theme; I write about things I see, hear, experience or learned. I can't tarnish my blog with random, unfiltered blogs that may hurt people's feelings or offend. Then again, it's my blog, an outlet for my creative juices when they start to flow and oh boy, they're flowing. God help us all!

I hate double standards, they irk me and I want to kill them all. Sometime ago, a friend of the family was visiting. We were talking and she started talking about her daughter, saying that she was a tomboy and sometimes she likes to dress up in big T-shirts, caps and boots. She laughed it off because it was "normal" behaviour for some girls. I started thinking about what she would have said if she had a son who was metro sexual or very flamboyant. Would she be disgusted? Try to beat it out of him? Or accept him? The sad thing is that this double standard exists whereby it's OK for a girl to act like a boy and be somewhat accepted by society. A boy, however, who is girlish or stylish or doesn't fit into the stereotypical idea of a male, has to endure ridicule, disgusting looks or being called all the gay related nicknames out there. I feel strongly about this because I have never been what you would consider the stereotypical boy and I was and continue to be ridiculed about it. I try not to take it on and exude overwhelming confidence but sometimes, it gets to you and it hurts. Why can't we be who were meant to be once, it's not harming anyone? It's this double standard that makes me want to seek a life for myself elsewhere, I feel as though I will never be understood in Trinidad where the narrow- mindedness runs wild. I'm just biding my time, waiting for that opportunity and then, I'm outta here. At least, my parents understand and were anticipating my departure from Trinidad ever since I was seven years old. Some may say I'm selfish and unpatriotic but, I doh really care nah!

One would think that I would understand deceitfulness. I have been around it all my life; from "friends" that have spread rumours about me to "friends" wanting to know my business so as to broadcast to the world but, I still don't get it. Why be deceitful? Is it that they like to lie to themselves and people around them or enjoy the thrills of playing mind games? Are they just bored, trying to find a way to enjoy themselves and f****** with people is the only way they find entertainment? Whatever it is, it's not nice making people trust you and then, backstabbing them. But, maybe I'm just too trusting, like to share and I always look for friends in the wrong places; I'm like a magnet attracting all the high voiced, deceitful people out there. Sigh! I need to surround myself with positive people and I've started but, change is a continuous process and I've been falling back into old habits and trusting 'old' people. Ah well...

Am I stupid? Does what I have to say seem so insignificant that you have to cut me off? Gosh! I can take criticism or direction; tell me you don't like this and you don't like that. I'll listen to you and try my best to comply with your vision while staying true to mine. Don't cut me off by waving your hands as though I was a mosquito buzzing in your ear and talk over me while I'm trying to explain my vision, my creative insight to you. I was hurt and felt as though what I had to say was of no importance. Sigh, maybe I shouldn't be so sensitive.

There's a new member to my life coach crew well, I would like to think so. He challenges me to think outside of the box and not just be an academic. I learn so much from him on a daily basis, I think of him like an older brother and someone to give me words of advice, helping me grow as an individual. At least, there's one, good, random thought!

WOW, what a depressing blog touched by hints of violence against supervisors and double standards! I suppose this is my dark place; between all the smiles and confidence, there's a dark side festering, waiting... Maybe, I should let it out more often and channel them into blogs. At least, I know that I'm not one note. Until next time- that is, if you come back after reading this!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Harry Potter 7, Part 2: The Good, The Bad and The Indifferent

"Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, come to die!", Lord Voldemort.

It was the end of an era on July 15th, 2011 as the final installment in the Harry Potter movie franchise premiered worldwide. As an original HP fan- I actually read, understood and re- read ALL the books when the movies were only an idea- I was VERY excited about seeing the final movie. For me, it was the end of an era and in some weird way it came full circle and I finished the journey with Harry, Ron and Hermione. Owing to the sentimental nature that this movie held for me, it was very infuriating to hear cell phones ringing, people steupsing or see people walking out the cinema saying that the movie was too long and real shit. Ugh! Those blasted bandwagonists who didn't appreciate what HP has meant and will continue to mean for many a HP fan. The movie lasted a little over two hours, was full of twists and turns and surprisingly, kept as close as possible to the book. I'm thinking of doing two or three blogs to share my thoughts about the movie because I cannot and would not condense all the information into one blog post; it's not fair to Harry. I intend to publish these blogs during the weekend so as to give the other fans a chance to watch the movie and enjoy the posts even more. Yay, I'm excited and I hope you are too. Until the next one!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Colombia: Things Learned

New Motto: Living and Learning

As some of you may know, I've been in Trinidad for over a month now after spending an amazing, life changing year in Bogotá, Colombia. I experienced SO MUCH which has impacted on my life and helped me to see and understand things differently. After reading a friend's blog ( and flicking through some pictures of my friends and I in Colombia, I felt inspired to finally sit down and write this blog post since the idea had been floating around in my head for some time now. The idea concerned all the intangible things I learned during my year in Colombia and how I've started to and/ or intend to adopt them in my everyday life. Sharing is caring and self evaluation is a good thing so I figure that this blog post would kill two birds with one stone. Quite resourceful if you ask me!

1) Survival

Two weeks prior to my departure for Colombia, my Dad called me outside and asked if I could fry sausage with onions and prepare breakfast for myself. I knew that my Dad meant well but his question left me unsettled and worried about how I was going to survive for a year without my parents. My Mum had attempted to teach me how to cook but nothing seemed to stick. Thus, when I left for Colombia two weeks later, I had decided that I would have to survive by minimalist means until further notice. After the pelau debacle of 2010 where my friend and I made a pelau without bursting the pigeon peas, I can safely say that I can handle my stories in the kitchen, bachelor style. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Wolfgang Puck but, if you're into spaghetti, red beans, store- bought rotisserie chicken and juice; I'm your guy. On one or two occasions, I actually seasoned my own meat and grilled it. I can also do pretty rudimentary stuff in the kitchen so I'm not worried much anymore. Another version of learning to survive comes from the fact that I learned how to travel around a big city like Bogotá. Mind you, there were times when I ended up in another part of the city but that's nothing because I wholeheartedly believe that getting lost helps you to know what not to take the next time around. Plus, it's fun! I'm not as navigationally retarded as I was. Overall, I came back to Trinidad in one piece, ready to inculcate my new found survival skills into my life and possibly, pick up some more along the way.

2) Appreciation

I love my family and I appreciate everything they do for me. I let them know this everyday and I try to be a good son/ grandson and make them proud. There is something about being away from your family for a long period of time, in a foreign country living in the apartment of a budding dictator. For some reason, you start to yearn for what you had at home and begin to truly understand and appreciate EVERYTHING that your family has done for you. My parents and grandmother work really hard to send me to University full- time whilst providing for my basic necessities and beyond. I try my best to make them proud but I have been slacking off. I mean, I don't put an 100% into my university studies; I'm capable of straight A's and being at the First Class Honours level but due to laziness and complacency, I've been falling short of realizing my true potential. Thankfully, I've re- discovered my scholastic fervour, a new version perhaps but, a fervour nonetheless. My new goal is to graduate with First Class Honours and make my parents and grandmother EXTREMELY proud of me and know that their sacrifices were not in vain. Whenever I feel down-trodden and want to give up which, I will because UWI has a way of getting to you, I'll think about my family and all the sacrifices they are making and will continue to make for me. I'm not only appreciative of the sacrifices my family made but I'm also grateful for EVERYTHING that they taught me while growing up. I'm always commended on my manners, my "clean" appearance and my chivalrous demeanour; those traits that I learned from my family. THANK YOU!

3) Friendship

The friendships I formed during my time in Colombia are dear and near to my heart especially, the one that I formed with my fellow, Trinidadian language assistants, Claire and André. At first, I honestly never imagined that we would have become such good friends. It started of weird but over time I really grew to respect, love and trust them deeply. I could tell them ANYTHING and trust that I can get a word or two of advice, knowing that what we spoke about would remain among the three of us. I consider them my siblings and would do just about anything for them. Some of you reading this are probably thinking that I'm replacing you as friends and that is not my intention. This friendship has taught me a lot about what a friendship is supposed to be like. No back- stabbing, no bacchanal between members of the group of friends and no rancour. I've had friendships like those and quite frankly, I'm over it! I've started weeding out these "friends" or at least, letting them know that I'm no longer interested in having "frenemies". I feel as though I have the right to choose the people that I want to have around me, helping me to become a better person and vice versa. My new friendship has also taught me how to be a friend to my really good friends that I haven't been treating fairly and basically, ignoring. I've started to make contact with them and spend more time with them in an effort to show them that I do value their presence in my life. If we're meant to be friends, all will be well and if not, that's life; you win some, you lose some. So, thanks André and Claire for my epiphany. Love you guys!

4) National Appreciation

Being in Colombia, experiencing the culture and absorbing as much as I can has instilled in me an appreciation for Trinidad and Tobago and what it has to offer. I noticed that there are so many Places of Interest that I have NEVER visited in Trinidad and Tobago. I've never been to the Asa Wright Nature Centre nor the Caroni Swamp nor the Gasparee Caves. I mean, really? According to a friend, "Yuh conduct real poor!" Thus, I'm making it a goal to visit and see as much of my country as I possibly can and partake in cultural celebrations that doesn't revolve around Carnival and calypso tents but venture out of my comfort zone and explore like that 'ole nastiness' Dora. Anybody wanna come?

My year in Colombia has been a blessing in so many ways. Not only was I able to see another part of the world, experience a different culture and improve my Spanish but I was able to grow as an individual and make amazing, lifelong friends. Overall, I'm a work in progress and I'm looking forward to my personal development. So, let's see what this year has in store for me. I'm excited and hope you are too. Until the next post!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Charlotte Street, Port- of- Spain

Street Fact: Panties should be bought on Charlotte Street because they are the same panties that you can find in Wonderful World and are MUCH cheaper!

Charlotte Street is located in Port- of- Spain and resembles Chinatown where you can find bargains on just about everything. The street is frequented by many Trinidadians and is known throughout the country. Being born and raised in Sangre Grande, I've never really had a reason to venture to Charlotte Street because I don't really like going to Port- of- Spain unless I have to and I can usually get good bargains in Grande. Now that I am working, I've had to come to the capital more often and I've been feeling like Dora the Explorer; I want to see everything that Port- of- Spain has to offer so, whenever I get the opportunity, I explore. Well, an opportunity presented itself last week.

The date was Thursday 30th June, 2011, the time was 4:15PM and something smelled REALLY bad. A friend had called me earlier, told me that she was going to buy something on Charlotte Street and asked if I wanted to come because she knew that I wanted to explore Port- of- Spain. I jumped at the opportunity and hurried over to Charlotte Street. My first thought was, "This is different!" then, the stench came. It smelled liked rotten cabbage mingled with perspiration with a dash of that smell you get after rain falls on an already dirty with a hint of car exhaust. People were screaming at me, asking if I wanted to buy vegetables, fruits or both since they were of good quality and BIG. There was a lot of foot traffic which greatly annoyed me because people kept on bouncing me and 'steupsing' as though it was my fault. I didn't say anything because they looked as though they could cause me grievous, bodily harm with one look. Aside from fruit stalls, there were pavement stores where the owners peddled their high-end panties and brassieres with gusto, boldly stopping a woman, carrying a lot of bags and asking her if she was looking for a D-cup to hold her breasts. Uhm, really? I finally made it to the store on the corner of Charlotte and Prince Street, elated that I would escape the horror of life on Charlotte Street for a few minutes.

On entering the store, I realised that I hadn't escaped the horror. The store didn't have a name and looked as though they took a shipping container from the wharf and placed it in the middle of Charlotte Street. Clothes were hung in every nook and cranny while the customers perused the store looking for the best bargain. One customer grabbed my attention IMMEDIATELY; she was dressed in a short, yellow pant suit, yellow sandals, big, golden earrings, a jet black hair piece with golden ends to rival those worn by the drag queens on Ru Paul's Drag Race and to top it all off, a humongous, unrecognizable tattoo on her upper thigh. She seemed to be competing in Charlotte's Street Next Top Model: Season 3- The Ghettolicious, Cosquellicious Cycle. She was loud and kept on conversing with her friend who was in the dressing room, trying on a dress in an attempt to look, "F***ing HAWT!" as Ghetto Big Bird so subtly put it. I stood to the corner, trying not to make eye contact and draw Big Bird's attention towards me because I really wasn't in the mood and I was scared. I was snapped out of my reverie when Big Bird started cursing no, CUSSING! The conversation sort of went like this:

Big Bird: "Wha' the f*** boy? This fat c*** laughing at me inno! Ey! EY! EY! You doh kno' who is me inno, I go beat her fat mother's c***, yuh fat f***!"

All this time, she was sort of jumping on the spot like those boxers getting ready to fight and looking at the chubby, salesgirl in the corner who was wearing a look of amazement, incredulity and terror on her face. Sadly, Big Bird continued saying, "Ey AISHA, lewwe go nah, lewwe f***in' GO nah boy! This bitch lookin' for me beat she c*** and ah go do it inno! She doh know who the f*** she dealin' with. Only watchin' me and laughing like a c***." My heart started to beat faster because Big Bird looked as though she was about to throw a tantrum and beat everyone in the store while she pelted clothes hangers through the door. Thankfully, Aisha came out of the dressing room and said, "Who is tha' givin' yuh trouble gyul? Yuh wa' beat she or wha'? Jus' tell meh and ah dey with yuh!" Big Bird responds, "Nah, she eh worth my f***in' time. Lewwe GO!" Big Bird and Aisha stormed out the store, shaking their horse hair as though they couldn't believe what had just happened. I was confused and it wasn't until the store manager asked, "What just happened?" that I started laughing. I affirmed my earlier thought that life was indeed different on Charlotte Street because everyone just went back working as though what just happened was an everyday occurrence. I was relieved that this would be the last store that my friend was going to visit because I was scared and wanted to go home.

All in all, it was quite an interesting, eye opening experience to see how life is in another part of your country. When I updated my FB status saying that life was different on Charlotte Street, one friend told me that I should go to George Street. So, who knows? I just might end up on George Street and see enough to do another blog post. Until the next one!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Man's Best Friend

You can´t fight inspiration...

About five years ago, my family and I had a dog named Shaggy. He was a white pompec that was given to us by my aunt and uncle after their dog gave birth to a litter of pups. At first, my dad was totally against us having a dog given the fact that our pet iguana had vanished without a trace some years before. Eventually, Shaggy grew on him and he was loved by the family especially my Grandma and my brother. While it was nice having a puppy around licking between your toes and running around outside while I studied my ass off for CXC, I must admit that I firmly remained NOT a dog person. One morning, we noticed that Shaggy was missing and we went nuts trying to find him. Later that evening, Shaggy was brought to us in a cardboard box by the people that lived in the street behind us. Apparently, Shaggy had ended up in their yard and their dogs being the gangsters of "Dog World" had attacked him, ripped out his throat and killed him. On seeing Shaggy in the box, my Granny dissolved into tears vowing to NEVER own a dog again while my brother hit the guava tree several times screaming, "WHY?!?" to the heavens. My Dad decided to bury Shaggy in the cane patch in the backyard and when my then neighbour, Ms. Deceitful asked him what had happened, he answered, "Girl, the dog get away, went in somebody yard and they dog gash 'way he throat. Things bad when dog killing dog yes!" Throughout the tears, anger and explanations, I was laughing hysterically. I couldn't understand why everyone was reacting this way, I mean it was just a DOG; we could have bought another one! Pardon my insensitivity but I just didn't get it.

While I was in Bogotá, I reminisced about Shaggy after watching a movie entitled, "Marley and Me". The film stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston as newlyweds, John and Jenny who live in Miami. Jenny has always had her life mapped out and feels that the next step after marriage is parenthood. However, John doesn't feel that he has accomplished anything in life and wants to wait on the whole parenthood thing so he buys Jenny a dog, Marley to distract her from wanting children for the time being- only a MAN would come up with this idea. Marley is not an obedient dog; he likes to chew household items, swallow jewellery, chase pigeons, bark LOUDLY all night and frustrate his masters. For some reason, he continues to be a part of John and Jenny's lives because they care for him deeply and vice versa. Throughout the movie as John and Jenny develop as characters; starting a family, securing job promotions, going through postpartum depression, moving to Philadelphia and experiencing all the trials and tribulations that life threw their way, Marley was there. By the end of the movie, the family of five can be seen around Marley's grave, bidding him goodbye whilst my eyes welled- up with tears, moved by the emotion displayed on the screen.

I was confused; I am NOT a dog person but there I was on the verge of tears, feeling cold in an apartment in Bogotá. I realised that it wasn't about being a dog person; it was about having empathy and understanding why these people felt that way after losing a dog. You see, once a dog enters your life it loves you unconditionally and never judges. John said it the best at the end of the movie, "A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not. As I wrote that farewell column to Marley, I realized it was all right there in front of us, if only we opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with bad breath, bad manners, and pure intentions to help us see." Furthermore, a dog becomes part of your family, is there through the good times and bad times and can teach you important lessons about life. According to John, "A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-- a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall and a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty". Overall, tears and other signs of loss are normal when a dog dies.

It's sad that I took SO long to realise this but some of us mature and have epiphanies later than others. I would like to 'blog- ficially' apologize for my insensitivity all those years ago. Although I didn't bond with Shaggy or cry when he died, I should not have laughed at those who were truly affected by his death. Thanks to Marley and his family for showing me that! Who says you can't learn anything from television?

Until the next post...

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

'Pon the Caribbean Coast: Cartagena


Cartagena de Indias, more commonly known as Cartagena is a large, Caribbean, beach resort city located to the north of the Caribben coast in Colombia. It is the capital city of the Bolivar department, a VERY popular tourist destination and the fifth largest city in Colombia. Cartagena was the third stop on our tour and in my opinion, the BEST town on the Caribbean coast. This is what happened!

For the second time that week, I found myself on a corner in Santa Marta at 3AM waiting for a bus. I was in a better mood that morning having slept more than four hours but that didn't stop me from sleeping on the way to Cartagena. I got up somewhere on the outskirts of Cartagena and the first thing I saw was the biggest mangrove on the face of the earth; it seemed to go on for miles and miles. As a matter of fact, I'm not even sure that it was a mangrove because it just looked like a huge river that had trees growing out of it- gosh, my third form Geography teacher would be proud. Surprisingly, there were people living on the dry parts of the mangrove/ river with trees in it. I could see smoke coming out of their small, wooden houses while their drying clothes billowed in the wind and their small boats sat moored in the brackish water. It was a truly humbling sight to see. There was so much more water, trees and mountains to see as we got closer to Cartagena and it was nice being able to experience more of God's creations and appreciate just how awesome he is.

El Castillo San Felipe de Barajas was the landmark that greeted us when we entered Cartagena. The magnificent castle was constructed by the Spaniards during colonial times and served as a fort. The castle sat atop a hill and looked simply marvellous with its colonial architecture and the Colombian flag perched on top, blowing in the Caribbean breeze. The bus parked at the bottom of the hill and the tour guide told us that we had ten minutes to "look around". I was kind of upset because I REALLY wanted an opportunity to climb up to the castle to see it's beauty up close and personal but alas, we were on a tour and the world does not revolve around me. Sadly, I had to settle for marvelling at its historical significance from afar. Two women could be seen setting up their stalls in the hopes of selling their souvenirs to tourists. By the time I found something that I wanted, bargained with the woman and purchased the souvenir at a reduced price, it was time to go. Once again, we had to wait for 300 who wanted to take photos of EVERYTHING. Now don't get me wrong, taking photos is all good and what not but within 300 there are ten family units, each with their own camera meaning that we had to wait for each unit to take about six pictures of the same thing; that's NOT annoying AT ALL! After what seemed like an eternity, 300 returned to the bus and we were on our way.

It was during this leg of the trip that I noticed that there was something wrong on the bus. Someone decided to use the toilet and when they opened the toilet door, the strangest, most disgusting, public bathroom scent greeted me. I was momentarily confused by the smell but more so by the fact that the drivers had NOT cleaned the bathroom the day before. Forty five people on a bus, most of them having used the toilet the day before during our DAY LONG trip to LG and they thought it wise to NOT clean the toilet that we were supposed to use for another DAY LONG trip. Like, really? According to my friend, "Some people logic just different!" Our next stop and possibly the COOLEST tourist destination in Cartagena was the actual place where the aristocracy lived and entertained during colonial times. From the outside, it looked both terrifying and somewhat regal with its towering walls meant to keep out the lower classes back in the day. My first thought when I entered was, "Doh shit me up!" Every building was so well preserved even after all that time, I felt like I had teleported back in time and as I looked around I could imagine the women walking around with their little fans, laughing haughtily while the men sat, smoking tobacco, figuring out the best way to take over the world. They had everything they needed; a church, a square with a statue, a nice garden area, shops, a look out and even, cannons in case of an early morning invasion from the French. We were also very lucky to witness the Good Friday procession that was happening in the square close to the church. Good times, good times!

Owing to the fact that I was immersed in culture all morning, I didn't realise that I was hungry until we arrived at the restaurant where we were going to have breakfast. Breakfast wasn't a grand affair this time around but it tasted great. Breakfast... check. Culture... check. It was beach time! The beach of choice was Bocagrande (Big Mouth), a fitting name since the beach seemed to go on for miles on either side. I had heard that the beaches in Cartagena were to die for but quite frankly, Bocagrande was normal and looked like any old beach in Mayaro. When I asked the tour guide why this was so he let me know that the nicest parts of Bocagrande were exclusive for the tourists that visited the area and were very expensive. I should have guessed, it happens all over the world. We rented a tent and almost immediately, this water baby was in the ocean; the water was warm and shallow while the waves were fantastic. The locals all looked like relatives or friends from Trinidad and for a few hours I felt like I was home although I was soaking up the sun on another continent. Overall, it was a good day in Cartagena and the inevitable started to sink in, we were going back to Bogotá the following day.

Later on that night, we decided to take advantage of our last night in Santa Marta and hit the town. The tour guide had organized a Champeta band (Google it!) to play for us on the beach and then, we would go to a club. At first, I was annoyed about going to the beach to hear the band play for reasons that are way too long to describe in this blog post. However, once they started playing and I got absorbed in the culture, I really started to enjoy the ambience so much so that I started to dance. The band played for about 30 minutes and then, it was time to go to the club. I had a feeling that one or two people in particular were going to annoy the hell out of me because: 1) they seemed like sloppy drunks and 2) they were "outta timing" with some of the things that they said when they were sober. Until they proved me right, I decided to enjoy myself because when was I going to a handsome, 21 year old language student in Santa Marta again? I danced, mingled, sang, drank, posed for pictures, took photos and flirted with a woman twice my age. Sadly, my premonition would soon come true as the bill came and we noticed that we had drank more than $100.000 pesos in drinks. My money was dwindling so I drank one beer for $2.500 pesos, which I gave to them to help pay the bill. My notion was to pay for what I consumed and that's exactly what I did. The others didn't agree with my notion and wanted to divide the bill between the eleven of us so as to find out how much everyone should pay. I let them know that I had had ONE beer, I didn't partake in the two bottles of Aguadiente (puncheon) nor the eleven Club Colombia beers nor the sparkling, bottled water so I had NO intention of paying for what I did not consume! I was even more annoyed by how they started to argue over the bill amongst themselves while the owner and workers at the bar looked on, pissed because they wanted to leave and had to endure, "Dawn of the Jackasses" (coming soon to a theatre near you). I felt embarrassed as well because I came there with those jackasses. I was fed up, sleepy and ready to go so I was relieved when they sorted out their business and were ready to leave like the drunken messes they were. However, one guy wasn't done annoying me, he decided that it was his place to walk next to me and tell me about my flaws as though he was Dr. Phil or something. Urgh, I was ready to explode but I didn't because he was drunk and it was partially his fault that he was acting like a nanny- hole. I walked off and went about my way, reaching the hostel wanting nothing more than to go to bed. Sigh!

All in all, 'twas an AMAZING day in Cartagena. Next- Santa Marta 2!

Friday, 10 June 2011

'Pon the Caribbean Coast: La Guajíra

Apparently, I can´t bounce back although I´m young!

La Guajíra is a Colombian department in itself and the northernmost coastal town on the Caribbean coast. The town is pretty close to Venezuela which fosters a lot of illegal trade in the region. La Guajíra was our second stop on the tour and boasts extensive plains which are inhabited by many an indigenous tribe; we actually had the opportunity to visit one tribe. So, this is what went down!

It was April 21st, 2011, the time was 3AM and I was on a corner in Santa Marta waiting for the bus to La Guajíra (LG). We were up so early because I suppose that the tour guide wanted us to have a full day in LG. His intentions were good but that didn't mean that I wanted to be up at that hour especially after the late night I had had the night before. The bus ride to LG was a blank given the fact that I slept throughout the four hour trip; I was tired! By the time I got up it was 7AM and we were in Riohacha, the capital of LG where we were supposed to have breakfast. I am by no means a morning person because when I get up in the morning, I can be both grumpy and irascible. My lack of morning "niceness" was further exacerbated since I was surrounded by morning people; you know, those cheerful, loud, irritating people that revel in the splendour of the hours between 6AM and 10AM. I just wanted to have my breakfast but first I had to listen to the owner as he told us what was on the menu. I wasn't all there mentally but I do remember him saying something about shark, arepas and cow kidneys. I didn't have the cow kidneys since I opted for shark, two arepas and a cup of passion fruit juice. The shark was good and had a nice, seasoned, Caribbean taste to it; I sucked on that shark meat as though it was my only anchor to life. Having been fed, I was more than ready to go and see what LG had to offer.

En route to our second stop, our tour guide told us a little bit about LG, most of which can be found in the introduction for this post. We passed a long stretch of ocean and it reminded me of The Coconut, that is, the stretch of coconut trees between Manzanilla and Mayaro. Probably the most interesting thing I saw was a totem pole- esque 'thingy' that depicted a lot of black people with arms outstretched, looking towards the heavens. When the bus stopped, I was a little confused about whether or not this was our destination; the streets were littered with all manner of things and it looked like downtown Port- of- Spain. The town was called Maicao and it's a big, commercial part of LG. There were streets upon streets upon streets lined with an assortment of shops and tents where the locals sold handicrafts, handbags, electronics and flowing, cotton dresses that looked like dusters but were all the rage in LG. Most of the time was passed walking through these streets, soaking up the LG experience and taking photos in the square. As mentioned before, LG is very close to Venezuela which has caused illegal trading between them. The closest I came to experiencing this phenomenon was the old man that kept appearing behind us, trying to sell us a bottle no, a megaton of whiskey at a very, VERY low price. The thought briefly entered my mind that maybe my Dad or Grandpa would really appreciate a bottle of whiskey. However, I decided against it because: 1) it felt wrong, 2) I wasn't sure how I would pass through immigration with an illegal, bottle of whiskey and 3) what if the drinking of that whiskey gave my Dad or Grandpa a serious case of diarrhoea? Maicao, I noticed, has a strong, Syrian presence and as usual, most of the stores were owned by them. I started to wonder whether or not they were a part of the illegal trading by reputation but then, let's not be stereotypical. I didn't really enjoy the time spent in Maicao so I was more than happy when we boarded the bus an hour and a half later and were on our way to our third stop.

While on the bus to our third destination, the tour guide let us know that we were going to visit one of LG's local, indigenous tribes and that we were expected to do a ceremonial dance that the members of the tribe would teach us or else, we would greatly offend them. Images of being sacrificed and served to the tribesmen in giant calabash bowls started going through my mind so I made up my mind to do whatever dance they wanted me to do. On our arrival at the compound, the tour guide left the bus, fully clothed only to return in some kind of tribal garment which looked like a high- end jockey shorts with a nice, colourful pom- pon adorning his backside. Once we were done laughing, the tour guide carried us to the entrance of the compound where we were expected to do a sort of ritual before we entered. Basically, we had to put our hands in the air and say some weird chant while drums played. Once we were inside, we were directed to a day house, that is, a shed where more than ten hammocks were rocking in the warm breeze. While we swung lazily in the hammocks, a member of the tribe told us a little about the Wayuu tribe. The Wayuu tribe is an Amerindian ethnic group whose people inhabit the LG Peninsular and northwestern Venezuela. They have their own language, their own religion and women play a very important role in the tribe. It was pretty awesome learning about the Wayuu tribe and it made me want to find out more about the indigenous that still exist in Trinidad and Tobago. After the lecture, we were surrounded by other members of the tribe who were selling their beautiful, hand- woven crafts. There were handbands that had either "Guajira", "Wayuu" or "Colombia" written on them in bright colours or nice, earth tones. Then, there were the bags that were hanging from the roofs of other sheds; they came in different shapes and sizes and were done in colours that really grabbed your attention. It was too bad that they cost a pretty penny and I couldn't afford one so I had to settle for my two handbands, both of which I'm wearing right now.

Suddenly, the rhythmic beating of drums could be heard throughout the compound signalling that it was time to dance. I was uber excited about learning and participating in my first tribal dance so I headed to the front of the crowd of spectators to take in as much as I couold. There were five girls of varying ages dressed in billowing, brightly coloured, cotton dresses with hoods and a boy dressed in the same high- end jockey shorts except his pom- pons were of a different colour. They all took their places and the dance commenced. The dance was called the 'Majayura' or 'ritual of the young, Wayuu virgin' and basically, the girls dance towards the guy for marriage until the guy tumbles to the ground. A simpler explanation: each girl would run towards the guy with arms outstretched, looking like large, day-time soucouyants while he tried to escape. The girls would quickly stick out their feet and try to trip the guy so that he tumbles. Woman again! The dance was interesting, hysterical and very entertaining, there is something about seeing someone fall down while wearing a jockey shorts that just makes you feel that way. It was the tourists' turn and for some reason, a lot of the men were nervous. The girls went around with a cute, tribal hat placing it on the head of a male who would then have to do the dance and pray to God that he doesn't fall. All the guys that went before me fell and I must admit that I was worried because the ground was REALLY dusty and this negro didn't want to get dirty. The girl put the hat on my head, the drums started and before I knew it, I was running backwards in a circle while this little girl tried to trip me. My God, it was invigorating and as usual, I started laughing like a mad-man, all the while paying attention to baby girl's dusty feet. Like a snake about to strike, she stuck out her foot and I stumbled a bit but didn't fall probably because I was too fat. Laughing at my good fortune, I went back in line and watched some of the girls try to trip the guy from the tribe; none were successful. Jus' sayin'!

Mr. Hunger decided to pay me a vist after a morning filled with activity so I was pretty relieved that our next and final stop would be the beach where we would have lunch. Nothing exciting happened on this leg of the trip except that the toilet had started to stink again which was pretty bad for those people that were sitting close to the toilet, that is, MY FRIENDS AND I. A lot of people had visited the beach that day and the 'lime' appeared to be going REAL good! Lunch was really good this time around, I would tell you what we ate but Granny always says that that's lack of manners. So... *shrugs shoulders* The rest of the day was spent walking along the beach and soaking it all in. 'Twas a good day in La Guajira!

Next stop- CARTAGENA :D

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

'Pon the Caribbean Coast: Santa Marta

DISCLAIMER: The following blog post is VERY long given the fact that I experienced a lot during my time 'pon the Caribbean coast. If you wish you can turn away right now however, if you choose to continue you will most likely be entertained. Enjoy!
To the north of Colombia, surrounded by the Santa Marta Mountains and touched by the Caribbean Sea lies the coastal city of Santa Marta. It was the first city we visited on the tour, and I was very excited about being one of the thousands of people that visited Santa Marta during Holy Week. This is what happened! 
It was April 20th, 2011, the time was after 10 in the morning, and after 18 hours on a bus, I was tired and in dire need of a shower or two. One could well imagine how my balls rejoiced when the tour guide announced that we were in Santa Marta and I looked out the window to see the sparkling ocean under the warm, Caribbean sun. A broad grin spread across my face as I savoured the moment and thanked God for this opportunity. My moment of inner peace was disturbed as the bus came to a halt and a police officer entered, asking all the men to exit the bus. 
In Colombia, police officers tend to stop you at random and ask for your identification, so as to verify whether or not you served in the military, an obligation for all men in Colombia unless of course, you have a military card or attended a military academy. I was annoyed about having to come off the bus, and then I felt the sun. 
Before I left, Maritza being the loveable, caring person that she is, told me that I should buy sun block because the sun is VERY hot on the coast. I don’t really care for Maritza and am accustomed to the sun, so I brushed off her advice. Maybe, I should have listened because that sun was NOT NORMAL. There was no shade and no clouds; I felt as though I was an ant burning under a magnifying glass held by a wicked, little boy. I was sweating profusely from simply standing in the sun.
Eventually, all the men returned to the bus and we were on our way to the hostel, Hotel San Andre. I must admit that it wasn’t anything fancy, but it was comfortable and I had all that I needed for a four day visit. I had little time to enjoy my room because I had less than 30 minutes to bathe and get ready before we went to the beach.
The funny thing is that although I live in Bogotá, I had about seven short pants in my drawer which meant that I was very much equipped for a day. or better yet, days at the beach. My white V- neck, blue and white beach shorts, and slippers were my outfit of choice on that day. Our transportation to the beach was a chiva rumbera, which is traditionally used to transport agricultural produce and people in the rural parts of Colombia, but it can also be used as a party bus.
While on the chiva, I got an up close and personal view of the Santa Marta Mountains. I could have sworn that I was in an old, Western movie because they were arid and full of cacti, dead trees and other desert-like shrubs. It was so weird that we were still in Colombia, but the landscape had changed so much in the 24 hours that we had travelled.
Finally, after driving for what seemed like 15 minutes we arrived at El Rodadero, one of the most important, tourist destinations in Santa Marta, and by extension, Colombia. My first thought was, "Whey, look at people!” And there were all types: short, tall, white, black, mixed, coca-cola bottle shaped, out of shape etc. etc. Towering hotels could be seen over the horizon, which explained why there were so many tourists waiting for the lancha/ fishing boat to take them over to Playa Blanca.
Our lancha eventually came, so we climbed on, found our seats, put on our life vests, and were on our way. I thought that I would have been terrified of being on such a small boat, knowing that the Titanic sank to the bottom of the ocean. However, as soon as the engine started and the boat sped across the water, splashing salt water all over my glasses, a HUGE grin spread across my face, yet again, and I was tempted to stretch out my arms while saying, "I'm flying Jack!"
For an exclusive beach destination in Santa Marta, there were A LOT of people at Playa Blanca. The white, sandy beach and stylish, red, cloth tents greeted me as I jumped off the lancha with a profound splash. I took in Playa Blanca, but I couldn't really enjoy it because I was starving. Persons from our tour were seated, which meant that our lunch would be on its way very soon. One hour later, there was no lunch. My belly felt hollow, my lips were white, and hunger could be read all over my face. Every time someone got served, I would steups four or five times as I felt my ignorant nature start to come to the surface.
Thankfully, after an hour and a half, I got my food and everyone on the beach must have been counting themselves lucky because I was this close *puts thumb and index finger together* to throwing a Spanish bitch fit. The food was alright, but I expected it to be orgasmic after waiting SO long to be fed. Sigh!
Once I was finished digesting and sightseeing, I decided it was time to unveil my beach bod and head to the water. The water was cold at first but once I dived- well, dropped myself- into the water more than three times, I became accustomed. My friends and I frolicked in the water, enjoying our chance to thaw off after being in cold temperatures for more than two months. Photos were taken, jokes were told, water was splashed and before I knew it, it was time to go. As the lancha turned around the mountain, heading back to El Rodadero, I turned around and bade Playa Blanca goodbye.
Later on that night, being young, fabulous and having just eaten dinner, my friends and I decided to explore the nightlife in Santa Marta. There wasn't like a big club, but what they did have was just as nice. It was like a square with about five bars. You could sit under the stars, sip on your beer and socialise. We found one that was inspired by Bob Marley, aptly called Marley Bar, and being Caribbean with a beautiful Jamaican in tow, it was an appropriate place to pass some hours. We drank, talked, laughed, danced and yours truly, even knocked over his drink twice.
Although we had to get up really early the following, I didn't want the night to end so after we dropped off the girls at the hostel, my friend and I decided to go to a club. Sadly, it was all techno, which, after a while, becomes loud, repetitive and makes your eyes hurt from all the ridiculous, flashing lights.
I settled into my hostel room to catch some shut-eye two hours before I was supposed to get up. I'm young. I would bounce back easily.
Up next, La Guajíra!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Love Is In The Air

I just want to burst that hot air balloon!

During my time in Bogotá, I've been staying in an apartment owned by two fools in love, Maritza and José. Masé, as I like to call them, are both middle aged, Colombian teachers who are deeply, madly and sickeningly in love with one another. Don't get me wrong, love is a wonderful thing, but the things these two fools do because they are in love make me both uncomfortable and disgusted. This blog post talks about all the sickening love that has been in the air at Apartment 202.

1) Public Displays of Affection (PDA)

I don't know about you guys, but PDA sickens me to the core of my being. Sadly in Bogotá, it´s a norm to see people, young and old alike, showing off just how much they love each other all over the city; in the bus, on TransMilenio, in the parks, EVERYWHERE. Naturally, Masé have adopted this annoying social norm and insist on bringing it home for me to experience. Imagine now getting up and hearing the unmistakable sounds of two people making out in the kitchen, while preparing breakfast. By the time I go the kitchen, they have already started kissing and caressing over their morning bowl of papaya. Once I was having lunch with them and they were playing "footsy" under the glass table, while José brushed his hand lightly against her face, a scene straight from a Danielle Steele novel. The worst I've ever seen was last week Tuesday, when Maritza came home from work. Before she could close the door properly behind her, José literally pounced on her, pushed her against the wall and started kissing her all over her face and neck. Horny much? I was watching television and I felt as though I was imposing on a private moment, which in turn made me feel VERY uncomfortable. The funny thing is that when I came back from Trinidad in January, Maritza told me that José had officially moved into the apartment and that they would try to be "discreet" with their romance. HA! If what they are doing now is considered "discreet" then, I suppose that "not being discreet" would involve having sex on the carpet while I watch Glee.

2) Pet Names

Aside form the VERY public displays of affection, I've had to deal with the annoying pet names that Masé seem to come up with on a regular basis. At first, the pet names were normal and cute. They referred to each other as: mi cielo, mi vida, amorcito/a or my personal favourite, Duarte (José's surname). Things started to get really annoying when Maritza was scheduled to return home form New Zealand after a two month vacation. I came from work to find the living room covered with cream balloons that read, "Te quiero mucho/ I love you". Once she returned, a new age of pet names were born seeing that they had had two months apart to get creative. They started calling each other, "Ratón" (José) and "Ratoncita" (Maritza), which loosely translates to "Mouse" and "Little Mouse". I mean, who refers to their boyfriend or girlfriend as a mouse? Mice are disgusting creatures that gnaw on just about anything and carry leptospirosis. Ain't nothin' cute about that pet name! The other pet name they have been using lately is "Pukeko", a bird that's native to New Zealand that boasts blue feathers and an orange beak. Pukeko isn't an annoying name, unless of course you hear it 24/7. It's like, "Hola Pukeko", "Mi Pukeko", "Chao Pukeko", "¡Qué descanses Pukeko!", "Pukeko, Pukeko, Pukeko, Pukeko, Pukeko, Pukeko, PUKEKO, PUKEKO, PUKEKO!" OH GOSH MAN!

3) Nighttime, Bedroom Noises

Believe it or not, I feel as though I have a heightened sense of hearing and I think it comes from all the "macoing" I have engaged in during my lifetime. This keen sense of hearing seems to heighten especially at night because I hear every little thing, once I am awake. Naturally, I hear "noises" coming from their bedroom on a regular basis; giggling, moaning, smooching and other sounds associated with coitus. You know what? I'm just going to let YOUR imagination take you there! Eww!

Some of you may think that I'm bitter or else, reigning on Masé's love parade. Maybe I am, but I think that they should learn to have respect for themselves and calm down a little bit. At least, for the two months that I have to live in the apartment. I have been thinking about telling her how their "love" makes me feel. I mean, what's the worst that could happen? My new apartment might just be under a bridge? At least, I´ll have something to blog about. Toodles pa- doodles!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


Well, apparently I had to come to Colombia to feel the burning sensations that only smelling tear gas can give...

Before leaving for Bogota, the other assistants and I were told that La Pedagogica is known for student riots. The reasoning behind these riots is the fact that the students feel that the government doesn´t spend enough money on public education which is well, true seeing that there is little or no technology at this University (oh boy, I miss UWI). 

Anywho, students hold riots as a means of telling the government that they are displeased with their situation and honestly, not one shit comes from these riots, the government simply ignores them or fights them like they did last week.

The time was 2:15 PM, the day was Thursday 24th February, 2011 and I was running from a tank that was spraying water from the sewers into the air. It had all started earlier when a guard came to our office to tell us that we should be ready to leave at a moment´s notice because they were expecting a riot. Now, this wasn´t my first riot so I immediately knew that we should pack our crap, wait to hear the first bomb and leave running. 

About fifteen minutes after the warning, the first bomb went off but for some reason we didn´t leave the University. It wasn´t until some girl told us that the students were being evacuated that we left. By my standards, our exit was uneventful. Students were standing in the courtyard cheering on their "warriors" as they walked briskly through the courtyard, dressed to kill in garbage bag like garments held together with scotch tape, straight off the runways of Paris and clutching black, plastic bags filled with beer. We made it safely out of the University and like any Trini we stood in the streets, ready to observe.

The beginning of the riot was normal as students could be seen in the streets, cheering, kicking a ball or else, engaging in public displays of affection whilst their "warriors" took their positions in the middle of the street, boldly telling a bus driver to turn back as they started burning something in the streets. It was quiet for awhile because the "warriors" were waiting for the riot police to come so as to start the riot. 

The silence was broken as my friend yelled and I turned around to see the big, black, police tank coming from the opposite end of the street, spraying it´s shitty contents onto unsuspecting spectators. I started running behind my friends and for some reason I found myself thinking, "Oh God, ah bathe aready!" While running, I would look back ever so often to see Mr. Tank coming down the road. I felt like Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when they were trying to escape the fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement. I also started laughing because the whole situation was hysterical to me. We headed down a side street and eventually, stopped to catch our breaths from running and laughing at the same time. Oddly enough, instead of going "home" we went around and came out on the opposite end of the street where the tank had started its rampage. It was getting better!

From our vantage point I could see the tank spraying the University and the "warriors" with all its shitty glory. The "warriors", protected by their garbage bag garments- I see the logic now- continued their assault by throwing their lab- made bombs at the tank. Luckily for the tank and its crew, reinforments were on the way as a group of about thirty riot police, dressed in all black and carrying tear gas launchers arrived on the backs of motorcycles ridden by normal police men. Their dramatic entrance reminded me of a scene from a movie when the star is in trouble, with no obvious signs of escape and his friends arrive to rescue him/ her. You know... like in that movie... ahm... with the American actor... oh gosh... the movie was EPIC... ahm... maybe, I should go back to the blog post? 

Well, the riot police were not playing nice and started firing tear gas into the air so as to disperse the crowd of spectators; students and pedastrians alike. It was running time again as they fired some in our direction. Honestly, I didn`t like that because I was not warring with the police, I was being "fass" so I didn`t deserve the tear gas. Anyway, we stopped at the TransMilenio station to take a look and imagine my surprise when I saw students pelting big stones at the riot police who were protecting themselves from "buss head" with their sheild thingies. A tear gas canister flew overhead and the students were no longer throwing stones but, throwing frames trying to avoid the spicy aroma of tear gas entering their many orifices. 

Naturally, we ran and I felt no desire to see anymore of the riot. We stood for awhile and about five minutes later, I was playing a boardgame and drinking a Redd`s in some bar with other students. Apparently, it`s what they do when there is a riot and it sort of reminded me of Trinidadian behaviour.

Overall, the riot was EPIC. Until next time!

Friday, 4 February 2011

All By Myself

Masturbation was NOT an option! Too soon?

It´s almost one month since my return to Bogotá and things have changed. My previous land lady,the oh so charming Maritza, has fled to New Zealand (can I get an Amen?) in search of more money meaning that her outside man has been staying in the apartment so as to carry out the administration of the apartment and ensure that I adhere to dear, old Maritza´s house rules and recommendations. José doesn´t particularly like me but he tries to have conversations with me that are irrelevant, unnecessary and VERY awkward. Furthermore, I only started at the University this week meaning that I found myself having A LOT of free time to myself and no one to talk to during the day and night for that matter. So what did I do to occupy my time alone in the apartment? This blog seeks to answer that question by chronicling a day in my life.

1)Talked To Myself

My mother has always told me that talking to yourself does mean that you´re crazy unless of course you answer yourself. Keeping Mom´s advice in mind has made me feel less crazy- then again, being crazy is relative- about what I did on that day. I staged grand conversations with myself in English and Spanish that covered a number of topics. I actually answered myself making the neighbours think that there was more than one person in the apartment at any given time. It´s understandable that I talk to myself because I have a very active imagination and I always have an opinion to share; this is just a fancy way of saying that I LOVE to talk. The funny thing is that after about an hour I was annoyed at the sound of my voice, it´s just so high and irritating. Now I understand why people randomly walk away or else ignore me when I´m talking to much.

2)Random Explorations

Once the novelty of talking to myself had worn off, I had to find something to occupy my time. I started to observe the fruits in the fruit basket, touching them to see if they were spoilt. Before I realised it, I was on her bookshelf admiring her book collection. She has a wide selection of books that focus on langauge learning, cooking and "How You Can Have God In Your Life!" There were three bottles of Argentine and Chilean wine and they were all sealed. There was a wine container box thingy labelled, "El Buen Vivir Comunicaciones", filled to the brim with pens of varying sizes and ink colour. On further examination, I noticed that ALL the pens were labelled with the name of some alcoholic beverage like, Black and White Scotch Whiskey, Santa Lorena Wine and Grey Goose Vodka. Employing my skills from Writing for Academic Purposes Option Two, I deduced that Maritza probably worked in some sort of alcoholic distribution company like Angostura but a Colombian version. Bolstered by my amazing deduction and "macoing" skills, I proceeded to the cupboard at the end of the corridor. I knew that it was filled with boxes but I had never opened them so I figured that it would be another adventure- EAT YOUR HEART OUT DORA! I opened all ten boxes and noticed that there were mostly paintings, ceramics, decorative straw hats and other knick knacks that you decorate your home with. Obviously, Maritza hadn´t finished unpacking following her move to the Takay Apartment Complex. After yet another stellar deduction I started to wonder whether or not being a Deducer was an actual form of employment. We need to get some people on that! As I was placing the boxes in the cupboard my eyes drifted to her locked bedroom door. The cogs in my brain started whirring and I was actually pondering, picking the lock with a knife so as to "see" what she has in her room without being bothered. I decided against it because I felt like a criminal just thinking about it and I was pretty sure that a knife couldn´t pick that lock. The next exploration site was the area on the side of the radio where Maritza has her CD collection. Guess what I did next?

3)Sang Loudly and Danced

I had been listening to soca earlier and I was still in the singing mood so one can well imagine the joy that I experienced when I found some karaoke CDs. They were called, "Let´s Sing, Volumes One to Three" and they included songs from artistes like Seal, Eminem, Shakira, Destiny´s Child and Queen just to name a few. I put on Volume One and lay back, quite contented, listening to the mellow jams that this CD boasted. Suddenly, I heard the first chords of "What´s Up" by 4 Non- Blondes (YouTube it if you don´t know who they are!)and next thing, I was on my feet with my remote mike in hand screaming at the top of my lungs, "WHAT´S GOING ON?" It was all uphill from here as the songs got better and better so much so that I stripped to my undies to dance like Tom Cruise did in "Jerry McGuire". The singing and dancing continued for the majority of the evening and I wasn´t worried about my neighbours hearing because they´re like potted plants, just existing! When I started to sound like Whitney Houston post- cocaine abuse, I decided it was time to wrap up the karaoke session so I sat on the ground, held my remote mike and belted out "My Life Will Go On" by Celine Dion. My eyes started to sting at the end of the song as I envisioned Leonardo DiCaprio/Jack Dawson sinking to the bottom of the ocean as Kate Winslet/Rose Dewitt- Bukater vowed to never stop loving him. Titanic oui!

4)Cooked and Observed My Neighbours

After my marathon karaoke session, I was hungry so I decided to bubble ah pot of tinned red beans with bacon to be eaten with the macaroni and curried chicken I had in the fridge. While the red beans were cooking I found myself doing what I do best sometimes, that is, observing my neighbours or "macoing" through my kitchen window. This was about the time when everyone was coming home so I was able to guess based on what they were wearing where they worked. The majority of them work in the hospitals as nurses or doctors. I was trying to use my Grey´s Anatomy knowledge to deduce what part of the hospital they worked based on the colour of their scrubs but that failed. There are a lot of families that live in the complex as well since men, women and children yelling, "Papi!" kept coming into the complex. While I was "macoing" a new family was actually moving in and their little white, panel van was fit to burst with all manner of household things. The mother kept on scolding the boy because he didn´t want to help move the stuff into the apartment. Honestly, if I had to climb those twenty five steps to Apartment 501, toting a bed post, I would have not wanted to do anything as well. Eventually, night had fallen and the smell of cooked red beans wafted through the apartment. I thought, "Observing your neighbours can be so tiring!", as I sat eating and watching Ugly Betty.

I really hope this blog post answered the question posed in the first paragraph. Until next time, ah tired!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Return Trip to Bogotá

Never a dull moment...

After a month and five days in sweet, sweet TnT, it was about that time to return to Bogotá. I felt really calm about returning because I started to regard Bogotá as a home away from home. Given my track record, one can surmise that this trip was an interesting one.

Before I had even left for the airport I found out that my dad coulddn´t take me to the airport since he was running late at the mechanic. This was about ten minutes before I was supposed to leave home so that I could reach the airport on time so one could well imagine my state of mind. My preoccupation was further escalated by the fact that every taxi I knew and called either didn´t answer their phone or were on some beach in Toco. Furthermore, I was concerned about whether or not my suitcase would be overweight since I had packed A LOT of Trini delicacies like two black cakes, kurma, drops, sweet bread, red mango, fudge, paw paw ball and Lipton (not exactly a delicacy but...). Luckily for me there was no need to worry because, 1)I found a taxi driver, 2)I arrived at the airport just in time, 3)I met a friend who works at the airport meaning that my suitcase which was overweight by five pounds was cleared and I didn´t have to pay a cent and 4)my Dad, Mom and Grandma were able to come and see me off; we even ate Royal Castle (it wasn´t that good). Before I knew it I was bidding my family farewell, taking off my shoes in Immigartion and modelling in my socks towards Gate 10 while¨"Oh Oh" (probably, NOT the name of the song) by Brick and Lace played in my head.

The first leg of the trip was a three and a half hour flight to Panama City and by my standards it was relatively normal. The airhostesses or like I call them, maids on a plane were super nice and catered to our every need. They fed us turkey sandwiches, mini pretzels, Oreo wafers and two glasses of orange juice. Oh my, it was GOOD, so much so that "Afro- Trinidadianitis" eventually stepped in. My slumber lasted some 30 minutes meaning that I had an hour and thirty minutes left on this flight so naturally, Mr. Boredom paid me a visit. I started to talk to my friend about random stuff and eventually, our conversation progressed to Carnival 2K11, the fact that we were missing it and the songs we had heard thus far and liked. We both agreed that Destra had indeed come out "real BAD" this year because all her songs have TREMENDOUS potential especially "Middle Ah D´ Road" with Swappi. I dunno how but we started singing a song from either this Carnival or a Carnival gone by. I must admit that we got into it like any Trini would and we started to move in our seats. Suddenly, my friend tapped me on my foot and pointed to the seat on the other side of the aisle, laughing. I turned to looked and understoodd why immediately; there was this guy dressed in a shirt and pants, hunched over in his seat with both hands covering his ears and shaking his head from side to side as though our singing distressed him. I laughed heartily and all singing ceased at once. Thinking back as I´m writing this post the poor guy was probably feeling the effects of cabin pressure. I needed to find a new way to entertain myself so I decided to go to the bathroom. If you would get your minds out of the gutter, you would know that I needed to pee and I had thus far never used a toilet on an airplane. Gosh, airplane toilets are sooooooooo confusing with all their gadgets and signs. I felt like if I pushed the wrong button the plane would go plummeting into the sea of lights below. I was in for a shock when I flushed the toilet because the strangest, most powerful "sucking" sound came out from the toilet as its contents went down to parts unknown. This got me thinking, where DID the contents go? *Googles it* Forty five minutes after my toilet adventure the plane landed in Panama City.

The second leg of my trip was an hour and a half flight to Bogotá. We(my friend and I)got off at Gate 16 and we had to walk to Gate 28 to catch the next flight. We had about twenty minutes to board so we weren´t walking that quickly. About halfway to Gate 28, I noticed that I had left my cellphone on the other plane *insert EPIC FAIL moment* so I had to RUN back to Gate 16 so as to enquire whether or not anyone saw it. I met a girl at the desk and told her what had happened. She then asked me what my seat number was and proceeded to enter the plane to look for it. I could have SWORN that the plane was still in Trinidad because Ms. Lady took forever to come back with my phone; I was still grateful when she brought it for me. We had to walk a little faster now owing to the fact that Ms. Lady had taken so long and that I was careless with my possessions. At about Gate 23, we were out of breath when this guy in a red blazer comes running up to us.

"Parsons? Baptiste?", he asked.
"Siiiii.", we answered.
"Están esperando/ They´re waiting.", he says.

We started to panic and made a mad dash that would make Usian Bolt really proud to Gate 28. At Gate 25 we actually started to hear our names over the PA systems being pronounced in a lovely Spanish accent full of impatience. This girl spotted us and ran ahead of us to tell the airplane to wait for us because we were coming. Panicky, a little excited and out of breath, we arrived at Gate 28 where an agitated airport person asked us where were we. I stupidly answered that we were on the other plane. Our final dash was through the tunnel that connects the airport to the plane. Laughing, I entered the plane and registered that EVERYONE was seated and filling out Declaration Forms. It was exhilirating walking down the aisles and having everyone look up at you. The food on this leg of the trip was good except for the chicken sandwich. It was cold as though the airhostesses had never heard about that little known invention called the microwave and the bread was DRY and FLAKY which made swallowing a task in itself. After eating, I began to fall asleep again when I was jerked awake by the plane seemingly plummeting a few feet from the sky. A woman screamed and my friend clutched my arm while I stupidly asked, "We land or wha´?" We were calmed down by the Captain who told us that there was nothing to worry about and that we had just passed through a little turbulence. By that time I REALLY wanted to feel the ground under my feet. Oh thank God, we finally touched down.

It felt GREAT to walk down those steps and feel the cold Bogotan breeze on my face. I was in Bogotá again!

PS: The contents of the airplane toilet go into a holding tank. There are several of them on every aircraft. They are plumbed so that they can be drained at major airports where they are serviced. The contents are then dumped into special sewerage systems. The blue fluid is replenished by the same truck that drains the tanks. The tanks cannot be dumped in the air by the crew, regardless of circumstances.

Google is AWESOME :D