It was never my intention to come to Trinidad. It was never in my grand plan, not that I had one. After graduating with my B.A, I was supposed to hitchhike to Ecuador, find my Rastafarian husband and teach English/Music on the beach (my parents were mildly supportive of this). So when I did end up in Trinidad………….it was a struggle.
Coffee and Culture Exchange meet up!
If you’ve talked to me in the past four years since my family has moved there, you’d know about my deep reservations toward Trinidad & Tobago. I have lived in four other countries and the transition of moving has never been as rough as it has been for my move here. For various, various reasons. Point being, toward the end of last year I got the point where I was ready to pack my bags and move somewhere else as soon as I could.
Days into the new year, I was formalizing those plans, creating budgets, and doing research into how I could complete this law degree in a different country, preferably one I’m already acquainted with. But while making those plans, I recognized the need to find a way to hold over until at least half way through this year, when I’d be done with the first year of school. So, I decided to look into the local Couchsurfing community. After all, the website had served me well while traveling through Europe last summer.
After briefly meeting at a CS event, we caravanned together on a ladies beach day
For those of you who don’t know, couchsurfing is a community where locals host travelers in the spirit of culture exchange. One can either host, stay with a host or “meet up” with other folks who treasure an authentic, local touch in their travels (for free or at the cost of cooking/going out together). I met my Luxemburgan brother through CS so I have a rather high regard for the site.
I figured that meeting other likeminded people wouldn’t be a bad idea. I was aching for the kind of subculture that, sadly, one has to know someone in order to find it. Unlike America, nothing in Trinidad is really a quick Google search away, and the predominant “bar and liming” culture runs counter to my nature. I’m more of a café and chill kind of girl.
So I updated my profile to “willing to meet up”, and saw that there was a meet up event happening in the first week of the year. It was at a coffee shop, aimed at new and seasoned couchsurfing hosts to talk about their experiences hosting. I looked at it as an opportunity to meet locals who would hopefully give me encouragement about living their country. Maybe, I thought, I would make a new friend. Maybe.
Long story short, I did make a friend. I ended up meeting someone who has become my best friend here in Trinidad since that very afternoon. His opening line? “Allow me to show you the artistic side of Trinidad.”
Guess who’s local and who’s not 😛
Since the year has started, I’ve been getting deep into the CS community here in Trinidad. I’ve been going to a few meet up events, hosting a few events of my own and through that I’ve already made some lifelong friends. I realize I sound like a cliché study-abroad advert or something, but as someone still new to the country, couchsurfing has been a great platform to meet people that I would not have otherwise.
Writing music with Sarah, a vibrant surfer 🙂
It’s like therapy—an opportunity to share my own story of moving from place to place, and an opportunity to hear other people’s stories. It’s a space where I don’t feel like an alien because of all the places I’ve been, because I’m in kindred company. Most of all, it’s been an opportunity to discover and re-discover this country that I’ve professed to hate (such a strong word, which is why I use it).
After my 3.5 month sabbatical last year, I haven’t had much of a stomach for travel. Settling in one space for a while has been a much more appealing notion, especially since I’m trying to get through law school. But hosting people and meeting up with people who are traveling or are dreaming of traveling has turned into another kind of travel for me. And, it has made living here so much more bearable.
The rest has been entirely Divine.