Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 11th 2013 Contents In response to my column last week,
someone asked what species will be
affected by further development at
Where the Maraval River meets the sea,
thousands of fish darken the shallows in
vast schools. Spectacled caimans sun
themselves on the muddy banks. Juvenile
scarlet ibises, yet to take on their charac-
teristic colour, comb the water s edge for
fiddler crabs. In the shade of a sprawling
mangrove tree, a black-crowned night
heron works with focused determination
on its catch.
All of this my cameraman and I saw in
one morning working our way through
On the eastern bank of the river, there
is a buildup of debris. Should that con-
tinue, the trees would die off, thus elimi-
nating the perches used by several bird
species, like the osprey, which regularly
strafes the surface of the water from its
lofty base of operations.
In my naiveté I envisioned opportuni-
ties for nearby businesses to invest in the
restoration and preservation of the man-
grove, to incorporate this wildlife habitat
into an overall development plan. Perhaps
there could be a boardwalk through the
mangrove, or viewing platforms for bird-
ers; wistful and wasteful dreaming, I sup-
From the 3D artist s rendering of the
long-term development plan for Invaders
Bay, there is meant to be a marina, but
more specifically a terminal for cruise
ships. All of this, it can be reasoned, is
meant to tie in with Derek Chin s streets-
It will likely amount to what already
obtains in many other Caribbean
islands---port of call at which tourists are
herded through a commercial corridor of
duty-free shops where they are duty-
bound to spend their US dollars. Because
what every tourist desperately needs is a
useless bronze replica of a steelpan and a
T-shirt emblazoned with "I iz ah Trini."
Mr Chin s vision includes more restau-
rants, shops etc. The concept is heralded
as the Epcot Centre of the Caribbean.
That is precisely the trouble with how we
envision development in this country: we
are zombies of contagion cultures which
strip the host of any sense of identity.
The thought of a Carnival museum
does seem a good one though, given that
in a few short years the Carnival as we
once knew it will be dead, so it will be
useful to have a collection of artifacts
through which anthropologists can rum-
mage as they try to piece together the
decline of our civilisation.
Jamaicans do not invite tourists to their
island to eat at a steakhouse or burger
joint (even though they have them); they
bring them there to eat jerk! Several years
ago when the US McDonald s chain
invaded Jamaica there was a pre-existing
restaurant bearing the same name (it was
the owner s name). This restaurant serves
typical Jamaican fare: jerk and curried
The foreign franchise exerted extreme
pressure to have the local diner change its
name. That modern-day imperialism was
fiercely resisted and in the end Mickey
D s was forced to capitulate.
What this suggests is that while
Jamaicans aren t opposed to foreign
investment, they understand that it must
not be at the expense of their own cul-
ture. We are a bit more obtuse when
faced with what reads like simple logic in
other Caribbean territories.
Why not introduce tourists to products
made by our world-famous cocoa (assist-
ing in the revitalisation of the industry)?
Expose them to other local dishes; take
them on a tour of a wildlife refuge right
on the edge of the city!
But then, how would they know that
we are an island with "plenty morney"?
Trinis have an acute insecurity of being
"islanders." We surround ourselves with
towering buildings to engender a pseudo-
metropolitan aesthetic while burying in
its foundations all that makes us unique.
Navigating the dull, grey torpor of Port-
of-Spain is depressing, yet as a nation we
equate lifeless architecture with progress.
I can hear it now, "You fightin over ah
small piece ah mangrove!"
There is no natural habitat on this
island spared the pressures of develop-
ment. Not one! The Caroni swamp has to
contend with the leaching of toxins from
the Beetham dump as well as year-round
hunting. Nariva, well you know the story
The Northern Range will eventually be
reduced to aggregate and spread out as
roads across the land. On this tiny island,
there is absolutely no wildlife sanctuary.
While we have opportunities to nurture
a sustainable eco-tourism industry, we
opt for the fast cash of the false econo-
my, one propped up by state expenditure
generated by finite fossil fuels.
As our natural resources dwindle below
levels which can support triennial
increases, technicolour housing schemes
and the "contracts trough," Trinis will not
have the income to sustain a Streets of
A sustainable model for development
could create not only jobs with a greater
life span but a breeding ground for entre-
preneurship. In the end, the rest of the
nation will take its cue from what
becomes of Invaders Bay; that is why this
Saturday, May 11, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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