A Trip “Home” to Trinidad and Tobago

I don’t know what to say we’re doing when we book a trip to Trinidad and Tobago. I was born and raised there, so for most of the nine years I’ve been living in England, I’ve called it “home”. We’ve just got back from two weeks there and it felt strange to tell friends beforehand that we were “going home”.

My children hardly know the place and I’ve no idea whether they’ll ever live there. Laurence is from the West Country. T&T is certainly not his home. I moved here when I was nineteen. Virtually my whole adult life has been spent here. If we were to move there, I’d probably have as much to learn as any of us would.

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So, I wasn’t prepared to fight back tears as we stepped off the plane in Piarco International Airport, walking through to security. “It’s like I forget this place exists when I’m over there,” I told Laurence, my accent already beginning to slip back, as he predicted it would. It happens every time.

But this wasn’t like the other times. I didn’t feel the rush of relief when the plane landed, like I was suddenly in a safe place, a country I understood. It was more sentimentality than homecoming. Realising that made me a little sad. I suppose it’s inevitable. The longer we stay here, the more roots we put down here and the further back Trinidad and Tobago gets filed in my personal history.

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Before Laurence, my goals for going back were simple. I was in a frenzy to see everyone, family and friends. It was always university holidays so I’d try to pick up the odd bit of work here and there. Now, it’s mainly boiled down to spending time with my parents and drinking in the country I took for granted, growing up.

Here’s a bit of what we got up to this time while out there.

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We ate our body weight in mangoes. Well, Talitha could not be convinced to try them or anything else local. I tried (hard) not to take it personally.

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She was, however, fascinated with the tiny creatures who welcome themselves into Caribbean homes.

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The highlight of our trip was a stay at Sanctuary Villas Resort in Tobago. I loved it so much, in fact, that I’ll be blogging about it soon.

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Visiting Tobago allowed us to try out Castara Bay. The water is so calm and makes for gorgeous swimming. It’s a postcard beach. We’ll certainly be back.

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We also tried out a beach forty minutes from San Fernando in Trinidad since that’s where my parents live. I’m still not clear on whether it’s called Guapo or Clifton Hill. There seems to be a disagreement on this. I was desperate for a last dip in the sea and Talitha had a good play on the sand. It was nice enough but not particularly a beach I’d go out of my way for.

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I think my mother (pictured here) may have found it amusing that we wanted to go to a Sunday market. There was so much colour and such a great buzz running through the stalls but it took living “away” for me to see how fascinating these places are.

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Our trip happened to coincide with Independence Day – great fun as we got to see some pretty impressive fireworks. The media was filled with talk of the nation’s identity, which was particularly stirring to read at a time when I was mulling over my own.

I don’t think there’s ever going to be a time when Trinidad and Tobago is non-essential to how I understand the world and myself. There’s never truly going to be a time where it’s not, on some level, home.


27 Comments

  1. September 8, 2014 / 8:25 am

    My sister in law is from Trinidad, although hasn’t been there since she was a very small child. It sounds like a beautiful place. I feel sentimental going to the town I grew up in so I can’t imagine how magnified that is when you go to a whole country with a whole different culture. Beautiful pictures too x
    Emma recently posted..5 Reasons to Learn to Crochet

  2. September 8, 2014 / 10:36 am

    What a lovely post. I think it’s totally understandable that you should have such mixed feelings about the place but it’s still so nice to visit and introduce your little ones to it. I think the best holidays are the ones that are a bit emotional because they make you think and stay with you. Your ‘home’ looks beautiful too x
    Kathryn (@KatGotTheCream) recently posted..The Happy List #68

  3. September 8, 2014 / 5:56 pm

    I love experiencing new cultures it must feel strange when your two worlds collide together.
    Emma recently posted..Bread and banana pudding.

  4. September 8, 2014 / 6:51 pm

    I moved away from my ‘home’ years ago and have realised for some years now that I will never be able to go back there to live. It seems I now will forever be the person who is “not from round here”.
    nessjibberjabberuk recently posted..Blackberry crumble traybake

  5. September 8, 2014 / 8:25 pm

    Looks like a beautiful place to have grown up – I think wherever we grew up is always home – mine is only 150 miles away from where we live now, but I stilll love getting to go back.
    Polly recently posted..Maternity Series – Week 25

  6. September 8, 2014 / 8:35 pm

    It sounds lovely and must be quite special to have another culture that’s so much a part of you. I moved around a lot as a child so don’t really feel like I have a ‘home’ like that – home is wherever my parents and their stuff happen to be. Or it was until I built my own home and family, anyway.

  7. September 8, 2014 / 8:45 pm

    What a wonderful heritage to have. I’m sure it’ll always be home in your heart at some level.

  8. September 9, 2014 / 4:42 am

    I am from Finland and I’ve been living in Ecuador for the past 17+ years. At the beginning Finland was everything that identified me and going there, was going home. Now Ecuador is my home and it identifies me. But at the same time, like you say, there will be no time when Finland isn’t essential to who I am and how I see the world.
    Joanna Sormunen recently posted..Ecuadorian Tortillas de Tiesto – Maiz Tortillas in a clay pot

  9. September 9, 2014 / 7:17 am

    Adele it must be so inspiring to have a place like this as part of your heritage, somewhere to go in your imagination as well as to return to. I’ve never been so thanks for posting these pics and inspiring me too!

  10. September 9, 2014 / 9:33 am

    i completely agree with everything kat (and everyone else) says.

    and i’ve never had a place that i’ve really felt or called home. just places where i happen to have lived. it’s interesting how peoples experience of this varies so widely.

    also, mm, mangoes!
    laura redburn recently posted..what i wore – grey ‘tinny’ dress & bee brooch

  11. September 9, 2014 / 5:12 pm

    What a beautiful place. I am most perplexed that Talitha wouldn’t try mangoes though; they are so nice and must be even more so when picked fresh!
    Mummy Glitzer recently posted..First Day at School

  12. September 9, 2014 / 8:52 pm

    It must feel so strange to not be sure which is your home, I think anywhere you grow up will always have some kind of comfort to it. But then I guess like you said the longer you are away from that place the more you forget it.., And the mangoes, wow!! They are one of our favourite fruits in this house, annoying as they are expensive and one between four of us is not very exciting! x
    Jess @ Along Came Cherry recently posted..Learning To Read And Write

  13. September 10, 2014 / 12:26 am

    Wow this place looks truly amazing and beautiful. I totally understand how you feel – about feeling strange – I left South Africa “for good” when I was 21 so most of my adult life has been spent in Europe so moving back would be a huge learning curve especially since so much is ha changed over there. I do feel like it’s my home or spiritual home at least and always feel odd at the thought of if I will ever be truly settled again.

    Laura x
    Laura recently posted..Packing for a train trip to France

  14. September 10, 2014 / 12:19 pm

    I always believe that home is where your heart is – so wherever you are, be it here or there, you’re home. A beautiful place x

  15. September 10, 2014 / 5:35 pm

    Although it’s of course on a teeny tiny scale I sometimes feel like this entering Wales again. There are some big cultural differences even just in countries in the UK, I don’t think of Wales as my home anymore at all. Also Wilf won’t eat mango’s either, strange children x
    Fritha recently posted..Memory Box

  16. September 11, 2014 / 2:07 am

    I think feeling melancholy over ‘home’ is normal and understandable – especially when home is so beautiful

  17. September 12, 2014 / 8:59 pm

    What a beautiful place. I imagine you must have such conflicted feelings but what a great place to be able to return to.

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