Thursday, September 20, 2007

T&T, Part 2: Trinbagodians

While out on the Queens Park pick-up fields, we are introduced to Carlan, a steel pan player for the government. On slow days--days when there are no diplomats to play music for--he rides his bike out to the field, orders a snow cone with condensed milk and watches practices and pick-up games. On Friday night, his friend Andre picks us up in Chaguanas and we drive to meet the other drummers in Barataria. As we drive by roti huts, Stag beer stands, and swarms of people waiting to catch the next Maxi Taxi, we see people playing through a high chain link fence. Andre pulls over for us and we play with local street guys on one-half of a basketball court. The game is good, the guys hanging out in the run-down bleachers are loud, the lighting is right--it's the kind of pick-up game we think will make the final cut. On Monday, we head for the island of Tobago where we hear life is slowly paced. We rent a car for two days and Ryan is elected as our left-side driver, navigating the aggressive T&T drivers, winding roads, and absence of cliffside guard-rails. We only almost die twice - once when we barely squeeze between a semi-truck and a ravine, and once when our car, for reasons unknown, decides to completely shut off while driving at full-speed. We turn the car immediately back on, and head for Store Bay where we play with guys from Trinidad, Guyana, and South Africa. It begins with a juggling circle, but as the sun starts to go down, the Trini with Rastafarian dreads points to the sky and says, "The candle's going out." So we move quickly to playing, sticking driftwood into the sand for goals. Ryan and Ferg rotate between shooting the game and killing mosquitoes on their faces as the sun dips below the ocean's horizon. On the ferry back to Trinidad the next night, we run into some of the same guys and play Gin Rummy as the boat pulls into the Port of Spain. Port of Spain is a busy city and we feel proud of ourselves as we stride towards the City Gates terminal to meet the bus (as though we know what we are doing.) We buy tickets for the busride home to ChaGUANas, try to board the bus to ChaGARAMas, therefore missing the correct bus and having to take an alternate bus route home. Around 10 pm, we are dropped by the side of the highway. A black, tinted-window SUV pulls up behind us and we meekly turn around, wondering if we are about to regret doing exactly what our hosts have told us not to do: walking with all of our expensive the side of the night. The window rolls down and we have an anticlimatic end to the story: it is Ian, our host, who'd somehow known to come retrieve the Americans who'd become a little too flush with self-sufficiency. The unknown SUV is apparently what he drives during his night shifts as a bank courier. He drops us off at the house, lifts the lids on the pots and heads back to work as we pile goat, coconut milk, and cornmeal onto our plates. With Ian's daughters we watch Digicel Rising Star, Trinidad's slightly lower-budget version of American Idol, with a little bit of gospel, break-dancing, and a new musical twist on Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings."

We pack up and get ready to head to Rio...


Haystack said...

Any chance that you'll be posting videos, or are you leaving that until you get home?

I only ask because I know from bitter experience how tricky it is to write, film, and edit while on the road.

Good luck with the trip!

mary said...

Whomever wrote the commentary should be a writer. I can picture your days in TT. Be careful

Edie and the gang said...

I love Bette Midler and steel drums are fun, too. I got to read the article in Soccer America about you all and the project, nice.
Be careful and have fun.
Love and hugs.

Amy said...

I love your commentary!! Glad you're rockin' it over there!! I'm jealous :)

Scotty said...

It sounds like you are having the adventure you imagined. We miss you in Asheville.

Wizards (5:0) Colortones last night.

And O-30 B (4:0) O-30 A...Cheetah is still celebrating.