Much of the Trinidad & Tobago ‘Soca’ music is topical, dealing with social issues like drugs and gang violence; political, blaming the politicians for high prices and squandering public funds or be-rating certain ethnic groups – I’m not sure a lot of it would get played in the UK.
‘Mad man’s rant’ is blasting from the Colt’s stereo, we have the windows down to let the cool air rush in, Pete’s at the wheel and Andreas Muller sits smiling contentedly in the back – all’s well in Tobago.
Our morning mission was to take Leif to the supermarket and pick up his bikes ready for them to go on the ferry to Trinidad.
Leif has his girlfriend and family members over, they’re staying in a rented villa in Tobago and Leif will travel in at the last minute to ride Saturday’s crit in Port of Spain.
Leif shopped, Andreas made good use of the villa’s swimming pool and Pete took me to Store Bay to see where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean.
The north side of Tobago sits on the Caribbean, whilst the south side catches the bigger breakers from the South Atlantic – at the eastern and western tips of the island, the sea meets the ocean.
Bob Marley’s face is everywhere in Tobago, and Store Bay is no exception – the towels bearing his image are coolly kitsch or ghastly, depending on your point of view.
We also got a skek at the current ‘must have’ Tobago wheels, man; the Nissan ‘Cube.’
All manner of customisation takes place, blacked out windows, lowered suspension, lights under the cills, additional valances below the rear bumper, over-size wheels with ultra low profile rubber – and if you’re real cool, giant Kalashnikov decals.
Shopping done, bikes dropped, it was time for the main event – a loop round Tobago in the hire car.
Scarborough, the capital is hectic – crowds, open air stalls, music, cars, guys drinking beer on the bar patios, shapely girls promenading.
But head east and it all calms down, the road chases the Atlantic coast, the views are stunning and if it wasn’t for the breeze it would be brutally hot.
Cars quietly rust away; moored boats have rods and lines set waiting for a bite; traffic is light and bars have doors and windows open to catch the breeze.
We pulled in for a Carib at an ocean side bar and typical of all good Tobago bars, the brew was ice cold.
Despite their preeminent position as the island’s top beer; Carib never ease up on the marketing – there are Carib posters, banners, giant inflatable bottles and signs everywhere.
Betsey’s Hope was a good photo opportunity, complete with cannon and vandalised phone.
Betsey was a slave woman who was into the voodoo and fixed it so that the slave master’s wives felt the pain if the slaves received beatings – spooky!
The vistas became ever more spectacular – and the photo-ops kept coming, Pete the lifeguard, Pete the goat herd…
At Speyside, the cool Rasta guy took time off from renovating his bar – with it’s wonderful views across the bay – to make us fruit smoothies; ‘I don’t use ordinary water, dat’s coconut water,‘ we believed him, they were amazing.
The view takes in Goat Island and Little Tobago Island – the former is where James Bond creator, Ian Fleming had a house; it’s clearly visible from the beach.
Just past Speyside, the road rears north across the ridge to find the Caribbean near Charlotteville.
Pete took us to a view point at a communications mast, high above the road.
The climbs on this road are savage, many of them are used in the Tobago Classic (Tour of Tobago), a five day stage race which takes place through the end of September to the start of October.
MotorPoint’s Pete Williams (who won the 2009 Drummond Trophy) won last year – big boned sprinters need not apply.
Stunning vista follows stunning vista, the bamboo grows beside the road and all of a sudden – there’s Glasgow.
And yes, they do stock Tunnocks caramel wafers.
‘Englishman’s Bay’ is off the main drag, but Pete knows the ropes here and we were soon sitting in the elevated dining room eating fish and chips as the warm waters lapped at the beach, behind us.
Up at Moriah, we missed our turn for Plymouth and ended up in Mason Hall.
Between Mason Hall and the main Claude Noel Highway, we saw one – hand painted – road sign.
We guess the thinking is that the locals know where they’re going and if fool tourists are using the roads, then they should have a local guide.
We headed for Mount Irvine Bay so as Pete could have a dook (that’s a swim to non-Fife readers) and we could watch the sunset.
The sunset was beautiful, not as nice as an Ullapool sunset but not bad at all for the Caribbean.