If you want to escape from politics, Trinidad & Tobago ain’t the place to come.
In Rituals coffee shop they have the novel idea of screening the News channel, where politicians pontificate endlessly about the upcoming election (sound familiar, folks in the UK?) whilst ‘New country’ wails from the PA.
There’s one song that reckons that if you play a Country song backwards; ‘you get your wife back, you get your house back, you get your dog back…’ and so on, down to the washing machine, stereo, etc. It’s a good sound track for the rants up on the screen.
The papers are full of it too; every headline in every journal, every day is political.
Political parties here operate within ethnic boundaries.
The population of 1.3 million – Tobago has 50,000 – is split 40% of Indian decent; 38% African and 22% mixed race.
Yesterday our taxi driver said; “we need something new in our politics!“
I think many people in the UK have the same sentiments.
The Roberto Chiappa situation rumbles on – he won’t go to Tobago and he won’t ride the last track meet, on Sunday night.
He’s looking for an early flight home but aeroplanes to Europe are thin on the ground.
The overwhelming body of public opinion is that he won the second match against Sellier and should have been declared winner, 2:0.
Roberto’s friend who runs the Benetton shop in Port of Spain told us today that after they drove away from the Arima velodrome, on the way back to the capital, folks spotted the big Italian in the car and were shouting; ‘they stole your race, man!‘
The main event today is getting to Tobago – we’re in the departure lounge as I write this.
As the crow flies, it’s only 21 miles from the one island to the other but because Port of Spain is on the west side of Trinidad and Tobago lies to the east – not to mention that there are strong currents to negotiate – it takes a few hours for the journey.
The mode of transport is high speed catamaran – in the punk anthem, ‘Road Runner’ by Jonathan Richman, he talks about ‘50,000 watts of power.’
The big cat tops that; each of her two thrusters pumps out 28,000 horse power. That’s more than Chris Hoy.
The cat’s exit from Port of Spain is pretty spectacular, those big thrusters raise huge plumes of water and the skyline gets ever more dramatic with each kilometre covered.
The hi-tech towers of Down Town contrast with old favellas on the surrounding hills.
I spent most of the trip interviewing nine time Trinidad & Tobago road champion, Emile Abraham – he’s cool, sympatico and with a good line in humour.
Emile and fellow islander, Ryan Sabga took time to show me the channels and islands which lay to the north of Port of Spain – one of tropical isles houses a prison, whilst others have villas straight out of ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.’
‘I never told you this before,’ Emile told us, ‘but I own one of them islands – the thing is that I don’t want you cyclists coming and messing it up for me!‘
Venezuela is just a matter of seven miles away at the closest point and the tropical mountains of Hugo Chavez’s domain rear from the horizon.
It was dark when we hove into Scarborough, capital of Tobago, population 17,000.
A genuine bus picked us up – and here we are at Viola’s Guest House in the Lowlands of Tobago.
It’s gone 11:00, now; journos should be tucked up in bed or embedded in a bar by now.
Me? that pillow is just too inviting.