Dreams Of Congo Square & The Taco That Ate Trinidad

Bring on the night..

Bring on the night..

…to Barbados from Jamaica by Air Jamaica, spend the night, then continue on to Trinidad by Liat Airlines… Guyana by Christmas… no air connections amongst the Guyanas… I’ve schemed on Suriname for years, even if their language IS called “Taki Taki.”  I’m battle-hardened linguistically now…

Welcome to Trinidad.  Super Burritos Gigantes, look out!  You have competition: roti dhal puree: lentils, spinach, chickpeas, mango chutney, two kinds of chicken complete with bone, and of course “pepper” (salsa)… ladled over bread instead of rice. 

City of ghosts...

City of ghosts…

Trinidad is an ethnic mix: African and Indian mostly… also Chinese, Arabs, and Hispanic Latinos.  Indians dominate the economy, but Chinese run supermarkets… the way the British liked it, ruling from the balance sheet: mercantile principles of economic control and hub-and-spoke monopolies.  Pot of pie anyone?

… pedestrian park in Port-of-Spain…like Congo Square in New Orleans c. early 1800’s… it moves and breathes like an organism of which the individuals are only body parts… liquor lines tables and brain cells of people dancing with their own ghosts… aging retirees…for the last time, and young bucks…for the first time… music is calypso-derived soca, with a thousand hyphens attached reflecting each new generation’s novel input…. heavy admixture of modern American hip-hop… steel “pan” bands honing and licking their chops, hoping to win the Carnival competitions… think I like Trinidad more than Brazil.  Too bad they speak English…

…plenty of Indian and Chinese food… street food second to none.  If roti is the Trinidad burrito, then “doubles” are the Trinidad taco… come off the line about five or six per minute by… (culinary) DJ wowing the crowd with his mixes and mash-ups…. eat them before the goop drips all over you and starts to get embarrassing—true fast food; also fart food.  Mexican food can’t hold a candle to this stuff.  Don’t try that at home…

Christmas in Trinidad

Christmas in Trinidad

…skies weep and wail until they finally cry themselves to sleep… afraid that Trinidad will flood and I won’t even be able to get TO the airport, much less out of it… in the US people sleeping in airports while blizzards rage outside.  Things could be worse.  So why am I depressed?

It’s Christmas time, that’s why.  Christmas is like candy: sweet but not necessarily good for you.  Christmas is for kids, all the toys and free money and unrealistic expectations… the symbols are all the same here, Santa and snow and midnight madness at the mall, including John Lennon, like some vast Anglo conspiracy to dominate your happiness.

Then the rain lets up enough for the plane to take off finally.  Good-by Trinidad.  I like your food…

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