Scarborough

Written by Pieter Jan on Feb 24, 2020 — 3 min read

From: Charlotteville, Tobago
To: Scarborough, Tobago

Today, we wanted to go to Scarborough, to check out the carnival. Carnival is a big deal around here, probably the most important holiday of the year. Neighbouring Trinidad’s carnival is the second largest in the world, after Rio De Janeiro.

But first things first. In the morning a fisherman came by the boat and offered us a special carnival deal on fresh lobsters. “$TT 25 instead of $TT 50 for a lobster”, he said. €3.5 for a lobster? Bring it on!!

He took us to his stand on the beach, where he backtracked: “No no no, I said $TT 35 per pound of lobster.” “Dude, you clearly said $TT 25 per lobster.” I tried to haggle but he wouldn’t budge. In the end, we settled for $TT 100 and two beers for a 3 pound lobster.

Lobster time
Lobster time

In the afternoon we went to the village to catch a bus to Scarborough. First we had to buy tickets in a small supermarket. We aquired a lofty stack of $TT 2 and $TT 3 stamps worth $TT 96, paying $TT 48 for the 7 of us ($TT 8 per person). Don’t do the math, you’ll start doubting math.

The small bus was completely worth the money. The driver was laughing at all the tickets I handed over: “What did you do, mon, buy the whole store?” He drove in first gear into the mountains, picking up people left and right. Some people handed over tickets, some were friends of the driver. The bus was never full, even when it was completely full. The views were amazing. The hairpin mountain road bends hair-raising. The stereo was playing reggae music the whole time, with titles like “One more night”, “Another night” and “I just need a single night”.

Once in Scarborough, we tried to find sim cards for our phones, but all the shops were closed for the carnival. Nobody seemed to know when the parade would start. People were sitting on the curb or dancing drunkenly on the side of the road in eager anticipation. Trucks with speakers piled up higher than a house drove around in the streets in random directions, narrowly evading each other, blasting eardrum-shattering ska music.

Costume competition
Costume competition
Very elaborate costumes
Very elaborate costumes
Too bad we saw no parade
Too bad we saw no parade

We found a parking lot where the dressed-up people seemed to converge. An MC and a jury were presiding over some kind of competition of which group had the best costume. It looked all pretty serious. Nobody was smiling. On the road, speaker trucks were still almost crashing into each other all the time.

By now we were quite hungry. We only had eaten breakfast. We escaped the deafening music into the airconditioned quiet of a KFC — my first time ever in a KFC — to have late lunch or early dinner.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get to the job interview
To get to the job interview

Just when the party was getting started, we had to head back to the bus. The last one left at 18:30. This driver had personal preferences for passengers: some drunks couldn’t go on the bus (“No mon, I smell the liquor on you”), while others posed no problem, even when raving drunk to the point of speaking in tongues (“Two-face! TWO-FACE! Is that you? No he isn’t Two-Face. I am not seeing right. Were is Two-Face? TWO-FACE! Mumble mumble you’re not Two-Face”). Very entertaining way of transport.