Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago – April 1, 2013
Of all the times we have been to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, this is the first time we have stayed on the island. We are here this time because we are waiting for an American Airlines flight tomorrow as we make our way home for Stan’s funeral.
Since our flight out of Georgetown, Guyana did not depart until 09:50, our departure from home was a reasonable 06:15. Roughly an hour later we were sitting in the waiting area of the airport.
The flight to Port of Spain is only 50-minutes, which is why find it hard to believe they offer beverage service in coach. With the numbers of people, it seems they zip the beverage cart up the aisle, go back down the aisle tossing a small cup full of a beverage at those that wish to have one, zip back up the aisle with the trash cart, and then one final pass by to grab the empty cups. The way people toss their heads and drinks back so quickly, one would think everyone is drinking whiskey shots!
We arrived in Port of Spain shortly before 11:00. After breezing through immigration and customs, our driver met us. In answer to my question, the driver told us gasoline was about TT$2.50 per liter. That equates to roughly US$0.41, so a gallon of gas is about US$1.55!! That is a real deal compared to Georgetown and the U.S.
It was easy to see that Port of Spain has a robust economy as we rode in the car. Their downtown area boasts six or eight high-rise buildings. Along the roadside, one could see numerous vibrant businesses, quite a few of which were international.
Some 20 minutes later we were at our hotel. Our room was not quite ready, so we sat and ate lunch while we waited. We each ordered a TT$85 (US$14) Centro Burger. The burgers had eight ounces of beef, cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and Centro sauce, served with a small side of coleslaw and French fries. We each chased it with a glass of Merlot, so our US$14 hamburgers turned into a TT$366.90 (US$60) lunch…yikes! Even though it was pricey, I must confess the burger was pretty darned good!
We completed our room check-in after lunch and took a short nap. That was followed by an afternoon of lounging by the pool.
We retired to our room for a while. From our room, we could see the national football stadium. That was to our north. Farther to the north was a small mountain range that ran mainly east-west. Just on the other side of the range is the Ocean. I believe it is still considered the Caribbean Sea at that point.
The national football stadium in Port of Spain.About two-thirds of the way up the mountains, in various locations, we could see some small fires. They appeared to be wildfires. Now and then we would see large flames leap up to the sky. With the proximity of homes, this reminded me of the fires in Colorado Springs last summer, just on a smaller scale. By nightfall, we could no longer see the flames.
For dinner, we walked about two blocks to the cinema complex. The theater was reasonably large, with ten screens. We did not wish to see a movie; we just made our way through the building looking for a restaurant. We settled on Trader Jack’s Island Bar and Grill.
We opted to sit inside since it was air-conditioned. The first thing we asked for was two big glasses of ice water. We were both dying of thirst. Once quenched, we switched to a glass of Malbec. It was from the Trapiche vineyards of Argentina. I could see how Malbec could replace Merlot as our favorite.
We both ordered the Maracas Shrimp platter. It had three styles of shrimp; jerk, Cajun, and deep-fried, served with tamarind chutney, Chardon-Beni, and garlic sauce. It was a delicious, slightly sweet sauce. We also had an order of French fries to share. We were pleased with the meal; although, at about US$104, it was a little pricey.
After dinner, it was back to the hotel to settle in and wait for an early rise the next morning.
The following morning we made up for our leisurely departure of the day before; rolling out of bed at 03:00. A quick shower and a cup of coffee and then it was off to the airport for our 06:35 flight.
Once at the airport it was a little confusing. We went to the primary American Airlines check-in cue. The lady at the entrance to the line gave us an immigration departure form and sent us to a self-serve kiosk back by one of the main entry doors to the terminal. Even though it was self-service, there was a lady there to help everyone. She scanned our passports and gave us all six of our boarding passes. She then directed us back to the primary American Airlines cue.
When we made it to the front of that line, we were able to check our luggage. The agent asked if we wanted a wheelchair. Leslie declined. When we made it to the end of the first security cue, Leslie saw the error of her ways. The line seemed to stretch on forever. I walked back to the counter and got an attendant with a wheelchair. She and I went back to collect Leslie. As soon as her butt hit the seat, we were off like a shot. As is becoming the norm, we went quickly by everyone else in line.
The attendant left us at the gate for about 20 minutes. When she returned, she wheeled Leslie down the ramp to the door of the plane. We took our seats and waited for the plane to load.
After loading, we were about 20 minutes late pushing back from the gate. The captain told us it was due to a combination of mechanical problems and the airport losing their flight plan. That’s right, LOSING their flight plan!! That was comforting… Shortly after he told us that we were on our way.
We landed in Miami, Florida at 11:00, right on time as soon as we got off the plane, an attendant with a wheelchair us. We made the usual trips through immigration and customs. Then the attendant took us in the direction of our next gate.
As we were going through security, I had a bit of a muddle. Typically when I go through security, I place everything that is in my pockets into my carry-on. This time the wheelchair attendant was quite fast, which put me off my game. Additionally, as is usual, she cut right to the front of the line with us.
I had both bags, so I put them on the table. I quickly unzipped my bag to pull out my laptop and put it in a different bin. I took off my shoes and hat and sat those on the conveyor. I was trying to get all of our containers, bags, and Leslie’s cane into the X-ray machine. In all of that haste, I forgot to take out my money clip. I also had forgotten the magazine and book I had in my back pants pockets.
When I walked through the metal detector, it went off. That’s when I realized I had my money clip. I told the agent. He said it was no problem and asked that I go through again, without removing the money clip. Of course, the detector went off again. When I went back through, one of the other agents saw the magazine and book. She directed me to put them on the belt to go through the X-ray machine, but not the money clip. Once again, the metal detector went off. The agent just asked me to stand by him.
The agent spoke to one of his colleagues and said some code like “UST.” The other agent acknowledged that and had me follow her to a different station. At that station, she swabbed my hands with a small white cloth. It is a test for explosive residue. She put the piece of fabric in a machine. A few moments later, she said I could pass. I collected all of our junk, and we were on our way again.
We stopped some 20 gates short at a Cuban restaurant. It was a cafeteria-style restaurant, so I sent Leslie through the line while I sat at a table with our bags. Leslie ultimately made eye-contact with me and shook her head no. She came back to the table empty-handed, and we left. She said the food looked disgusting.
Walking a little farther in the concourse, we found a TGI. Friday. I still had a fried shrimp craving, so that is what I ordered. Leslie had a Jack Daniels chicken sandwich. We both had a glass of Malbec. The lunch was wonderful.
Leslie and I boarded our plane for Dallas, Texas. While we watched the other passengers board, we noted many people from Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Mexico. The aircraft was about 20-minutes late pushing away from the gate. I thought the delay was possibly due to the weather. When I had looked at the television monitors in the terminal, I did see storms covering Oklahoma and quite a few storms south of Dallas.
As we continued farther into our flight, it became more and more evident that the weather was the problem. The fasten seat belt sign remained illuminated for most of the three-hour flight. It was not the worst chop I have been in, but it was somewhat bumpy.
About 30-minutes before landing, the pilot informed us we had been re-routed a little because of the storms. He asked the flight attendants to secure the cabin much earlier than usual because of the anticipated bumps. As it turned out, it was not so bad. We were somewhere between 20 and 30-minutes late arriving as a result.
One of the beautiful things about flying within the US is that one does not have to continue to go through the security checkpoints. As can be noted from my recent experience in Miami, that is a good thing!
Near the gate for our final flight of the day was a Chili’s restaurant. We stopped there for our dinner. Chips and salsa began our meal. We had not had good chips and salsa for so many months; it almost felt like we were dining in some restaurant in Paris! We savored every bite. Following that was a cheese and beef quesadilla. Those were quite a hit too since it had been so long since we had eaten Mexican food.
The final leg of our journey was to be on American Eagle. Because of that, our gate assignment changed twice while we were waiting. Additionally, the flight started 30-minutes late because we were waiting for our plane to arrive.
Once we were airborne, it was a reasonably quick two-hour flight to Grand Junction, Colorado. It was about 21:30 when we arrived, a 21 hour travel day.
We were home from the airport in about 15 or 20-minutes. Even though this is a sad visit, it is good to be back.