Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 3rd 2014 Contents B11
Thursday, April 3, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The plane descends through
mottled grey rain clouds and lands
at Piarco. The doors open but driv-
ing rain sweeps across the runway
then falls vertically, bouncing off
The cabin crew tell us to return
to our seats and wait for the bus.
Some passengers dash for the ter-
minal, some run back up the stairs
flapping with umbrellas.
It s not an April Fool s Day prank.
Like Hugh Masekela, T&T has been
waiting for the rain.
In Carnbee, I remarked to a taxi
driver how bright a yellow poui was
and how those trees must love the
dry season detox from the cloying
humidity. Instead of lush green the
landscape contains lemon-yellow
shades, leaves that rustle in the
breeze, raked up by gardeners.
In Woodford Square gazing up
past the poui s sturdy trunk, dainty
branches and bright petals against
the azure sky I nearly bump into
passers-by. Now I have learned that
its flowering leaves hold promise of
the rains to come.
I have missed the rain. "Do you
miss England?" people ask.
The other day I felt my heart ache
for London. I couldn t identify why.
I don t miss it right now but longing
for London streets will come again
in the course of time.
Unlike the timeless beauty of
Thomas Hardy s English country-
side, London is concrete. A city of
immense beauty and intense ugli-
ness wrapped into one.
Even in ugly cityscapes one can
find allure. Like the high-rise council
estates spanning the horizon on the
Westway flyover from Marylebone
in central London to Shepherds Bush
in the west. Like the disused wharfs
and derelict factories along the
Thames at Wapping. Like the iconic
gas holders, earmarked for demo-
But tacky shop fronts mar once
grand thoroughfares making every
high street in England look the
same---Starbucks, McDonald s, Boots
the chemist, Pret-a-Manger sand-
wich shops, Primark clothes stores
and variation on the Poundland dol-
Above street-level one sees the
facades of Edwardian buildings,
banks and theatres and wonders
why they weren t preserved, why
the modernisers of the 1960s and
70s thought it apt to ruin the view.
Currently, members of T&T s Cit-
izens for Conservation group are
fighting to protect the scenic views
on the roads and hills surrounding
Port-of-Spain from being obscured
by giant advertising billboards. Not
many people are taking note. They
should, if they don t want this his-
toric city to look like a typical Lon-
don high road within the next
How can I miss London when I m
surrounded by splendour and feel
this urge to visit every inch of T&T,
the Caribbean islands to the north
and mainland to the south?
"You go to Tobago more than
most Trinis," Ilve been told. Well,
yes. I have an inbuilt wanderlust.
I thought I would be able to travel
in the region---to Grenada, Guyana,
Jamaica, St Lucia---but the price of
air passage is prohibitively expensive.
So I console myself once a month
with the not-too-shabby Tobago,
an island that increasingly resembles
paradise every time I go back.
Perhaps it is the expense of travel
that means travel writing in our
regional newspapers is hard to find.
Travel for leisure is a luxury few can
In Europe, low-cost airlines mean
you can hop across to France, Italy
or Spain for 11£50 return.
But here, most of us must content
ourselves with reading about Bequia,
Dominica, Curacao, Suriname and
Martinique in Caribbean Beat mag-
azine as we make the 20-minute
flight against the trade winds of the
Atlantic to the sister isle.
How can I miss cold, grey, London
when I m standing on a jetty in the
early evening watching fishermen
unload a haul of huge fish, each one
4-feet long? I ask what kind of fish
and get a gravelly "dolphin!" in
response. They are dolphinfish or
Up close, I inspect their snub-
nosed faces and the marbled gold,
blue and green colouring on their
sides. I watch a fisherman slice along
their undersides removing fan-like
gills, gutting the intestines, saving
the large pink roe sacks, washing
the fish in the sea turning it blood
red, then loading them onto weigh-
ing scales, 20 fish at a time, and on
to the back of a truck.
How will I leave these islands of
hidden treasures where you turn
down unassuming village roads in
Black Rock and find giant crashing
waves tussling with magnificent
sunsets at the end of the path?
Where turtle season is beginning
on the east coast of Trinidad. Where
ocelots, peccary, armadillo and crab-
eating racoons frolic in the dark
recesses of the northern range rain-
Where vintage open-topped Land
Rovers pootle along like the sun
never sets on the Empire. Where
the calm, green waters of Mac-
queripe caress you as you bathe,
catching glimpses of Venezuela.
Where Indian houses on stilts
nestle in the undulating terrain of
Barrackpore, flags fluttering. Where
horses are ridden, neck-high,
through the turquoise blue of Buccoo
reef while I lie back on the beach,
apply the sun lotion, listen to Paul
McCartney singing Good Day Sun-
shine in my earphones and think of
She is there, England, somewhere
across, the water. But she can wait,
Lie back and think of England
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