The old saying goes that “Trinis are like salt — they in everything”. So it should not come as a surprise that the more you travel, the more you find that there are Trinis in the most far-flung, least-expected places.
As for my personal story, I’m just a girl from Maraval who never even planned or dreamed about leaving home or living abroad, until I was in my mid-twenties.
I went to university in Canada, and hated it so much that I left exactly one week after my final exams were done. I didn’t even attend my own graduation ceremony! Yup, I was Trini to de Bone, and all I wanted was to go back home and back to my normal Trini life.
Slowly that changed, as friends started going off and doing interesting things with their lives. Some were doing work-holiday visas in the UK, some went to work on cruise ships, one went to South Korea to teach English, one went on the JET Program to Japan. They’d show me their pictures, them on the Great Wall of China, them in Tokyo, them in Bali. The seed was planted in my mind and it took root… after all, if they could do it, then surely I could too?
Then one day as I sat down stuck in traffic, frustratedly changing the channel on the radio, I realised that I could easily drive this same one-lane road in and out of Maraval every single day for the rest of my life, and never do anything else. That scared the shit out of me, and I decided that if I ever wanted to see the world, I would have to leave Trinidad. Because unless you have a LOT of money and a whole lot of time off (and who is that lucky?), there is just no way to live in Trinidad and travel. It is impossible.
Armed with my degree, I took the easiest route — I went overseas to teach English. I was willing to go anywhere I could get a job. I had no clue where I would end up, or how long I would be gone. To be honest, I didn’t really care. I applied to jobs everywhere, from Ecuador to Incheon, from Mexico to Romania.
Then, the first job got lined up.
The first stop was Turkey where I did a six-month stint in a tiny town nestled in the Anatolian mountains. It was a really strange experience, and myself and the other two teachers were the ONLY foreigners in town, but it was a good one nontheless, and it certainly was a challenge that made me stronger. Oh yeah and I got a water parasite and ended up in the hospital for a week with an ID card borrowed from a Turkish girl… and later we all got kicked out of town for allegedly being prostitutes… but that’s another story. Turkey is a beautiful country with a lot of things to see, and an amazing history.
This was followed by a year teaching in Japan, which I absolutely adored. I was so lucky to get a job in Tokyo, which to me is still the most mind boggling city on the planet, a place which never stops surprising you by how damn weird and fun and exciting it all is. The people are amazing, the culture is incredible and rich, and the food…. oh I drool just thinking about it. Tokyo was AMAZING.
Then a handsome stranger came into my life, and somehow convinced me to move with him to Hong Kong. I applied for a million jobs in Hong Kong and then, much to my astonishment, a big fish came along, too big to pass up. So, I took the bait, moved to HK, and became a small cog in a gigantic financial firm, where I worked for three years. During this time we did a lot of travelling to other countries in Asia, such as China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Three years of corporate slavery was enough, so I took a year off, and spent most of it in Thailand, and then spent six months in Dubai.
Quite frankly, I hated Dubai. And I’m not the kind of person that uses the word ‘hate’ lightly when it comes to travelling. But I HATED Dubai so much, from the core of my soul. I hated the restrictions. I hated the patriarchal society. I hated the constant sexual harassment, because if you’re not a Muslim woman, then by default you are a whore. I hated always having sand in my shoes. I hated the feeling of being vulnerable all the time. And I was glad to leave.
So, we then moved back to Hong Kong again in 2012, settled back in to life, and got on with things. The Kid arrived and I was quit my job to be a stay at home mom. Contrary to popular belief, having a kid does not curtail your travelling. They have passports, don’t they!? If anything, we’ve travelled more than ever, because I wasn’t strapped to a 9-5 job five days a week.
In 2016, we made yet another move, this time to Okinawa, a beautiful tropical paradise island in southern Japan. We spent about a year there, learning lots of Japanese at a language school, exploring the island, enjoying the parks and beaches, camping.
But unfortunately, work brought us back to Hong Kong again. So, here we are.
What’s next on this life journey? Who knows what another year may bring!
But more importantly… what’s your journey going to be?
I get a LOT of emails from Trinis who also have itchy feet and want to go abroad and travel. If you’re one of those people, but don’t know where to start, be sure to read the section called How To Get Out of Trinidad to get some general ideas and tips. I try to add more information when it becomes available.
I hope this blog provides useful information to other travellers out there, and encourage other young Trinis to spread their wings and fly. Because it IS possible.
If you still can’t find the information you need, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I always respond to people who have travel questions.