Happy Lunar New Year!
So I don’t think I’ve ever really introduced myself on here, have I?
Hi, my name is Karina and I’m from a tiny twin-island republic in the Caribbean called Trinidad and Tobago.
I lived in Trinidad, with my parents, grandparents, sister, nephew, a cat and two dogs, until I was 21 and that’s when I moved to the other side of the world, to South Korea.
I was pretty happy there as a child and to be honest, I really took my life there for granted.
(Baby me! I still pull those faces sometimes….<__< )
These days I’ve been thinking a lot about my life in Trinidad, especially with it being New Year weekend here, so here’s a short(?) list of the things I miss the most. In no particular order~~Let’s go!
1) The Weather
When you think about the Caribbean, you usually think about it being really warm and with beautiful beaches, right? Exactly! In Trinidad and Tobago, the weather is usually between 20 – 35 degrees Celsius all year round. I admit, sometimes it gets irritating when you have to deal with constantly sweating off your makeup, but you learn to adapt to the weather. (Something that prepared me for Korean summer) It’s not a sweltering humid heat, but it’s really warm and comforting to be honest. I always loved playing outside because of the sunshine and how warm it is but there’s something about Caribbean sunshine that makes you feel happy and at home.
Okay , so a bit stereotypical, but the beaches are beautiful! To be honest, Trinidad doesn’t have the blue water, white sand beaches like Tobago, but they’re still really gorgeous. Maracas, Mayaro, Las Cuevas, Blanchisseuse, Tyrico, Pigeon Point, Bacolet, Castara…so many. As a child, I went to Mayaro every time school closed for July/August vacation (it’s not Summer vacation, since we don’t actually have summer. Just…holidays.) So you’re driving through Rio Claro (town?) and then you take a right at the end of the road (stop by the KFC on the corner to get chicken and chips..and a biscuit) and drive for maybe 2 minutes until you see the beach. The entire road is lined with coconut trees for as far as you can see and, you basically keep driving until you find a spot you want to stop at. The water is generally pretty calm so you can literally just sit in the water, or just walk along the beach for hours because it’s pretty endless.
3) The FOOD
Alright, so Trinidadian and Tobagonian food is hands down my favourite cuisine on this earth. It’s a mix of so many different influences, that’s hard to classify as anything other than Trinbagonian. Curry, Pelau, Macaroni pie & Calaloo, Bake & Shark (not real shark), Cow Heel Soup (not as gross as it sounds), Crab & Dumplings, Corn Soup, Doubles…
I can’t even think about all the foods that are good and worth trying..just try everything!
Right now, I really miss curry. Any kind of curry. It’s completely different from Indian and Japanese curry, more stronger curry taste but with different spices. There’s literally no way to describe it and to tell you how much I miss it, I had a craving the other night, and tried to curry ramen noodles. I never missed my mom’s cooking so much… 😦
Doubles, probably best explained is curried chick-peas in a fried bread sandwich, but it’s definitely not a sandwich and you can mix all different types of sauces inside it; tamarind, cucumber, cilantro..or just straight up pepper sauce. Anyone want to come to Korea to cook for me?
4) The Music
Now, living in Trinidad, I was never really a big fan of the music. Soca and Calypso are two of the major types of music and is really popular during Carnival (Mardi Gras). For some strange reason, I sort of rejected that part of my culture, thinking it wasn’t “pretty” or thinking it was just really bad music, but now that I can’t hear it when i’m walking down the street, I really realize how much I missed it and how many opportunities I missed out on because I was too busy being ashamed of it. I still don’t like Calypso as much, but I can appreciate it and now when I listen to Soca, I feel….happy. It reminds me of home and for the 3 minutes the song is playing, it makes me forget about whatever is bothering me and makes me hold on to that happy feeling. It’s music you listen to when you’re stressed, happy, sad, walking or driving down the street. It’s really good for your soul~~
Again, something I took for granted when I lived there. For some reason, I felt ashamed by our dialect, I thought it sounded too rough or too uncultured, so I tried my best to not use it and would hate hearing it sometimes. But when you really think about it, our dialect, our language, is what makes us uniquely Trinbagonian. Just like our food, there are so many influences that we use to this day and while it’s similar to other “Englishes” our language entirely its own thing. Since i’ve been living abroad, I’ve sadly adapted to a more “American” accent, so people would understand what I’m saying. Especially when speaking with people whose first language isn’t English, you definitely have to speak much more clearly and slowly. Even though I was ashamed when I was younger, I’ve come to have a new appreciation for our language and, to be honest, I really wish I had more chances to use it here.
6) The People
Trinidadians and Tobagonians are, mostly very friendly. I’m not saying that every single person you encounter will be nice (especially those store employees who act like they’re doing you a favor by talking to you…but those exist everywhere) Something I vividly remember is going back home in July 2016 and being a bit shocked at how many people would stop to say hi to my dad. I asked him if they were friends but he said no, it’s just someone he saw maybe once or twice. Another time I was with my grandpa on the front porch and this man just stopped to talk, and my grandpa had no idea who he was. I asked if that’s the first time that happened but he said it happens quite often. I lived in the countryside and it was a very close knit community. I guess, people are genuinely caring and want to say hello. And I really, really miss that, since it seems that now, the younger generation doesn’t really want to take time out of their day to say hi. (Younger generation. wow. I just aged myself…)
When I think of my favourite holidays I’ve spend at home, I always think of the weekends I’d spend at my cousins’ house or going to the beach on a weekend. We would make grilled cheese sandwiches, hot chocolate at night, watch a movie, play card games, and it was really nice. Instead of sitting around playing phone games or on a laptop, we’d go to the front or back porch and sit with tea and just..look at everything and talk about everything and nothing. Basically, hang out, or as we’d say, lime. I think that’s something that I wish I had here. Sitting on a porch, running out in the backyard with the dogs and having hummingbirds fly past, gardening on weekends (or watching my parents do the gardening while I sit with the cat) Just basic simple things in life.
(Hummingbird photo taken by my dad. Check out his other hummingbird photos here )
All in all, my life in Trinidad & Tobago was pretty sweet and I really wish I could do it all again. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever return to live and with flights being so expensive and the distance so far, I can’t go back to visit often, but I’ll definitely be home again.
What do you miss about your hometown/country?
Thanks for reading everyone,
See you next time!