1 Jul 2008

A Trinidad story for rocket scientists

I just installed Google Earth on my new PC (the last one having been fried when my power supply burnt last week), and in looking up Trinidad, I accidently came across a blog post that's so fascinating, I can't help but extract a few comments. This blog was seen within Google Earth, mind you.

But keep in mind this blog was (in my mind) accurately written by visitors to Trinidad.

Our plan since arrival in the Caribbean has been to attend Carnival here in Trinidad.  We have been looking forward to it since our friends, Neil and Tracy on Adonde told us about it over a year ago. Frankly we have been underwhelmed by the whole experience.  It is billed the "Greatest Show on Earth" but Barnum and Bailey need not worry.

Carnival is a one to two month event that consumes this tiny island nation.  It was much different than what we expected and while parts of it were well worthwhile, the parade on the final wild day was only so-so.

The parade is made up of thousands of people who have joined together in "bands", each with a theme and colorful costumes. 
They march, stroll is a better word, past judging stations accompanied by music trucks so loud even ear plugs can't stop the head hurt, all the while drinking beer and rum.  The music trucks are flat bed semi's, sometimes four of them for one band, with thousands of watts of power and  each filled with over fifty feet of solid speakers.  The sound can be heard five miles away, plus it is head banging with unintelligible lyrics and a tune that is repeated over and over again.  In the big bands, the sound trucks are synchronized so it can be half a mile of the same god awful racket with hundreds if not a few thousand  people all strolling by drinking and writhing.

Some of the bands, have a third type of flat bed truck filled with port-a-johns so the participants don't have to pee in the street.  If a band doesn't have a toilet truck they just pee as they walk.

Carnival is over the island is getting back to normal, which is for the most part, nothing to be proud of.   Crime is rampant, the government is a joke and the living conditions continue to deteriorate. Trash is thrown everywhere and the populus is admonished with big public signs to not urinate on walls and against fences.  There are on average, two murders a day and hundreds killed each year by auto accidents partly due to drunk driving and roads that haven't been repaired since the British left. They have a tar lake here that could pave the entire island and they can't even fix a common pot hole.

Trinidad has oil and gas which makes it one of the wealthiest of Caribbean nations.  Still, forty percent of the population doesn't have running drinking water, and the nation cannot feed itself.  Part of it is because of bad government, and part because the people are lazy.  Everything is imported, much from the US at exorbitant costs. The selection of foods, particularly fruits and vegetables are limited to what grows almost wild in the jungle. And yet, the government lets hundreds of thousands of acres of flat, fertile, watered land sit idle. 

The country could be an exporter of food to other island neighbors, instead it imports almost everything. One wonders where all the oil money is going, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess who's pockets it is lining.

And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this is what the world really thinks of Monkey Island. A Mugabe moment indeed.

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