Trinidad and Tobago

Posted by Jianne Carlo | 1:02 PM | 9 comments »

Today Trinidad and Tobago celebrates 47 years of independence.

Talk about come a long way, baby!

Back in 1962, principally white. British citizens held all the top positions in the country whether it was Government, business, or society.

In a country ten (that’s right -10) degrees above the equator, men wore three-piece suits to work. That’s right, jacket, vest, and trousers (okay, the latter is still necessary except at Carnival time). The point here is the vest, not to mention the tie.

School girls, particularly this one school girl - moi, had to wear a long sleeved shirt, a tie, a hat (talk about keeping the heat in), a pleated woolen ((you read right - woolen) skirt, a full slip beneath all the aforementioned, and tall socks pulled up so not a hint of knee showed. The first day of school, I fainted.

On this day in 1962, the first television station began broadcasting. I remember my dad went out and got a TV immediately. The picture was so fuzzy you had to squint and get real close to the screen to figure out what was what. For about the first couple of years we had two hours of television daily, the news from 5-6 p.m. and then one hour of British documentary.

The newspapers reported the first broadcast of Bonanza! I fell in love with Hoss and Little Joe.

Today, Trinidad is referred to as the “Hong Kong” of the Caribbean is now reffered to as “the Murder Capital.

With the only oil and methanol reserves in the Caribbean, the country grew wealthy off the oil boom of the 70s, and the riches rolled through the population creating something rare in the Caribbean, a stable middle class.

During the last decade that stable middle class began voting with its feet by immigrating (I’m a prime example).

Several Factors prompted the erosion of the middle class: two Coup D’├ętats (is that a plural?), drug trafficking as a major source of income for the poor and money laundering as a major source of income for the rich, a police force and government riddled with corruption, an education system in disarray, legendary traffic jams, and a legal system mired in legislative swampland.

There is also the fact that the murder rate has doubled in the last two years. In a sixty- by- forty island, there were 550 homicides during 2008. And as for the kidnappings for ransom, there are no figures available.

Here’s a list of accomplishments by Trinidad and/or Trinidadians.

• A Trinidadian created the only musical instrument invented in the Twentieth century, the steel drum (steelpan in Trini-speak)
• Trinidad is the birthplace of calypso and the limbo (contrary to popular belief, Jamaica can only lay claim to reggae)
• The Trinidad Carnival is the greatest festival on the earth - take my word for it, Brazil is second and New Orleans a poor third (sorry Lynn)
• The Trinidad Soccer team made it to the World Cup finals, amazing for a country of its size
• Peter Minshall, a brilliant Carnival ‘Mas leader and artist, helped design the opening and closing ceremonies for the 1987 Pan American Games, the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the 1994 Football World Cup, and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics
• Sir Vidiahar S. Naipaul – Writer – Nobel Prize Literature, 2001
• Trinidad has won the Miss World and Miss Universe contest three times since 1966
• Brian Lara , a Trini is regarded as one of the finest batsman in the sport of Cricket - ever
• Hasley Crawford – 1976 Montreal Olympic Gold Medal 100m.
• Ato Boldon – 2000 Australia Olympic Sliver Medal 100m, Bronze Medal 200m; 1996 Atlanta Olympic Bronze Medal 100m & 200m, and co-broadcaster for track and field events during the last Olynpics
• Edwin Roberts, Wendell Mottley, Edwin Skinner, Kenneth Bernard – 1964 Toyko Olympic Bronze Medal 4 x 400 m Relay
• Wendell Mottley – 1964 Tokyo Olympic Sliver Medal 400
• Edwin Roberts – 1964 Tokyo Olympic Bronze Medal 200m
• George Bowell – 2004 Athens Olympic Bronze Medal Men 200m Individual Medley Swimming
• Rodney Wilkes – 1948 London Olympic Sliver Medal Men’s featherweight Weightlifting, 1952 Finland Olympic Bronze Medal Men’s featherweight Weightlifting
• Lennox Kilgour- 1952 Finland Olympic Bronze Medal Men’s 90Kg class Weightlifting
• Jean Pierre – 1979 World Netball Champion Competition.

It makes me wonder, how a country so rich in natural resources, so rich in the talents of its people stumbles and fritters away the chance to establish paradise.


Jianne Carlo


  1. Autumn Jordon // August 31, 2009 at 3:29 PM  

    This was a fanasting post. It's so beautiful. I would love to visit, learn more of the history.

    I believe my DH plays ball with a few men whose families remain there. Nice guys.

    Happy Independence Day.


  2. Mary Marvella // August 31, 2009 at 5:16 PM  

    There are so many things I didn't know about Trinidad. Maybe when I become wealthy I travel there. Thanks for the bird's eye view.

  3. Scarlet Pumpernickel // August 31, 2009 at 10:12 PM  

    Jianne, ah, but alas, men are but poor being with feet made of clay. We too have the makings of paradise and have fallen short of the mark. Facinating history of a country that clearly, inspite of it's flaws, holds a dear spot in your heart.

  4. Barbara Monajem // September 1, 2009 at 2:56 AM  

    Thank you, Jianne, for a thoughtful, educational post.

  5. Jianne Carlo // September 1, 2009 at 8:25 AM  

    Thanks for your comments everyone. The Trinis in the group were not pleased with me.



  6. Judy // September 1, 2009 at 12:39 PM  

    Very, very interesting, Jianne. I knew so little about the country. And, poor you, I can see you in my mind as a cute little school girl bundled up in the heat...

  7. Beth Trissel // September 1, 2009 at 3:24 PM  

    I know next to nothing about this part of the world--now I know a little more. Thanks.

  8. Mary Ricksen // September 1, 2009 at 3:32 PM  

    You forgot to mention one person on the list Jianne Carlo Author extraordinaire!

  9. Joanne // September 11, 2009 at 8:59 PM  

    Jianne, thanks for showing us such an exotic, beautiful part of our world.