Finding a Man...grove - with Kathryn and Thais

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLiving on a small island, it's so rare that you make a true discovery. Everyone, everywhere has always been there done that, knows more about it than you and yawns when you get excited about it. So it's truly exciting to go somewhere that people literally haven't put their hands all over and is truly new. 

That's how Thais and I felt the day we came across the mangrove forest at Point Petit Trou in Tobago one Saturday. Now obviously, we weren't the first people ever to see this place, (not trying to be a Columbus here) but it was a first for both of us.

Thais and I had been exploring a vacant villa complex in the Tobago Plantations (extremely creepy by the way. I kept waiting for the zombies to emerge if we made too much noise) when we noticed a very Blair Witchish entrance (or what I would assume a Blair Witchish entrance would look like, as I hate suspense and horror and have watched few horror movies in my life) to a series of interconnected bridges through the mangrove. The bridges originated from multiple different points and converged into one path that led to a small hut, and a wide jetty with a bench overlooking a lagoon.

Some of the best adventures are the ones where you're experiencing just a dash of trepidation, and yall know me, Nervous Nancy, can always serve up the trepidation. "How perfect this would be for murderers to leave bodies", I thought. "How perfect this bench would be for ritual sacrifice", I thought. But I continued on through. Even more of a surprise was that my companion, who can skew a little ... rigid...(love you UTT!) was completely up for the adventure and took on the impromptu but welcome role of photographer! In fact, the only truly scary moment of the adventure was when she spotted a snake in the box that housed the electricals for the lighting. I never get my ass out of some mangrove so fast...

We tried to surmise all the reasons that someone had created this hidden treasure. It seems made for wedding photos, and little limes. But if you guys have any insight definitely let me know.

One of my goals for this blog, is to focus on situating Trinidad as a destination in itself, even for the people who live here. If you're not careful, you can really start to focus on  leaving Trinidad & Tobago in order to get the true excitement of discovery and otherness that you get from foreign travel. I hope that Cities and Islands does some work in making people realize there is a lot to discover right here, if you just make the effort (and lets be real, we can be a bit lazy). Because not everyone can travel every weekend, every month, or even every year. Thankfully, I have been blessed to come from a family where traveling was almost a family value like generosity and forgiveness. But it inspires in me a wanderlust that is satiated when I'm home as well as when I get on a plane. I'm glad I get to share that with you through Cities and Islands.

 

Photography: Thais McGowan

Dress, La Maison de FiFi; Sandals, Zara; Sunglases, Michael Kors.

Thais is wearing her favourite silk caftan. Lol.

Far Tobago

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The other day I was speaking to a Jamaican guy and he was telling us how baffled he was at Trini's definition of 'far'. According to him, Jamaicans love to drive, and would willingly jump into the car spontaneously for a 4 hour drive, whereas Trinis complain that a 25 minute drive is too 'far'.

 

I don't generally disagree. I spent my formative years in the Port of Spain area, and living in Diamond Vale was a big adjustment for me. It now takes twenty minutes to get everywhere instead of ten. That's a 100% increase! Lol. And imagine, my father once toyed with the idea of moving to the East!

 

The reason of course is that driving in Trinidad is such a hugely frustrating experience. Between the traffic, and the antics of the other drivers sharing the road with you, most people rather just get to their destination quickly. In Tobago it's even worse. Most people believe there is no reason to be in a car in Tobago for more than 10 minutes in order to get where you need to go. So when I said I was staying in Speyside, easily an hour, or an hour and fifteen minutes away from the airport (depending on who you were driving behind), over Jazz Weekend, people flat out laughed at me.

 

And yes, it was very far. Me and my friend Hannah worked out a system so that we would only ever have to do the drive once per day. But it was so worth it, to have a local homegrown adventure and see places we had never seen before.

 

These pictures are taken at the Speyside Water Wheel, a relic of an old sugar plantation from the late 18th or early 19th centuries that lies in ruins around it and was literally one of the most interesting places I've taken pictures thus far. However, as we often say, "Tobago sun real different" and in most of the pics I look, hot, bothered and molten. So please avert your eyes in the direction of the water wheel.

 

I would love to revisit this location in rainy season because I've seen other pictures of the ruins covered in creeping vines giving it a very lush, Secret Garden vibe. But it just goes to show, that if you drive just a little bit farther, you make great new discoveries.

 

Photography: Kyle Walcott

Top: Nastygal; Shorts: Zara; Sandals: Zara; Earrings: Michael Kors; Sunglasses: Nastygal

Instagramming...Easter

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The OTHER #islandlife

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Trinidadians are really some of the luckiest people in the world. To all my foreign friends, one of the beautiful things about being from Trinidad & Tobago is Tobago itself.

A 15 minute flight to Tobago is always $300 TTD (around $48 USD, no blackout dates here) or $50TTD for a 2 hour ferry trip, and as soon as you land, you feel your heartrate slow, you forget to look at your watch. You take your time. It's the kind of place that as soon as you get there you think, "Why don't I come here more often?"

Kyle, my photographer, is actually from Tobago, and is there many weekends shooting footage for his upcoming documentary, so I decided to steal him away while I was there for work.

We had grand plans of going all over the place to shoot cool, undiscovered Tobago locations, but as I explained, Tobago is not about grand plans.

We ended up shooting at my hotel (because I was too lazy tranquil to leave), Kariwak Village, which takes a holistic approach to hospitality and does a really great breakfast (included in the rate every day). And the grotto!! As relaxing as Tobago is in general, Kariwak is the place to come for daily yoga and massage therapy, food seasoned with herbs grown on site in their greenhouse, meditation, and nature (a variety of tropical birds are your breakfast buddies. Don't let them steal your watermelon!)

Tobago has recently seen a decrease in international tourism, however our domestic tourism has seen a surge. Every long weekend (of which we have many) tickets, hotels and rental cars are extremely hard to come by. I already have plans of coming back twice (maybe three times) in the next few months, so hopefully Kyle and I can get to some of those grand plans. Or whatever. Lol.

UPDATE: Special thanks to my Tobago girl trip buddies Thais and Rianna without whom this post would not be possible and whom I originally egregiously neglected to mention.

 

 Photography: Kyle Walcott

Cover up: The Trunk Show, Ellerslie Plaza; Bikini Top: American Apparel; Bikini Bottom: Liilah Resort Wear; Shoes: Sandalias.

Six Hours of Summer

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So it's definitely Fall in NYC (where I am now, if anyone is keeping track). And I feel that I didn't really have a summer at all this year. Due to wearing heavy coats in Paris until the middle of July in what everyone described as the coldest spring and 'summer' in years; to coming to New York in July to be greeted by a monstrous heat wave which wouldn't even let me leave the air conditioned luxury of the apartment, far less engage in summery activities; to 6 weeks in Trinidad where, when I once tried to go to the Hyatt for some relaxation, was greeted by hordes of people, fully clothed, paddling in the pool (no seriously. One dude had on a striped polo jersey and CARGO pants in the pool. I. Just. Can't).

Long story short...I felt like the Summer of 2013 just passed me by.

So at the end of Summer 2013 I hadn't gone to the beach. Hadn't gone to any barbecues. Hadn't gone to any rooftop pool parties. No yacht trips DDI. And was constantly bombarded with images of people on Instagram and Tumblr doing the very same.

Until one lovely weekend in the beginning of September when I managed to extend what was supposed to be a one day trip to Tobago so I could go to the beach for a few hours the next morning. All the gods conspired to make it the most perfect beach day ever, complete with fish and crab sightings, and lots of beautiful photo opps!

Swimsuit by Liilah Resortwear.

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