On the way to San Fernando I had seen firework stalls everywhere. Long before dark, bangers exploded in the distance, sending the pack of guard dogs at Pearl’s into a frenzy.
New Year’s Eve would be a lively affair.
I sat down to write, but jumped when a cracker went off like a gun shot down in the street. Then another. The boys from the house were setting them off to get the dogs used to it. The dogs were cooped up in the back, and they kept largely quiet. I was still quite sensitive to noise, but the habituation effect worked on me too.
For a while all was quiet, as if the city was holding its breath for the New Year. At nine thirty three French guests arrived. I cleared some space in the fridge and was pleased to note that the sink and table were clean after I’d mentioned it yesterday. The German Medical Convention was oozing out over the place like a fungal growth. But they had learned to replenish the ice and I set out a bowl, although I ended up being the only one using it to top up my rum while the French sucked on some beers.
The French—two guys and a woman— were tired after an arduous journey from French Guiana and mainly wanted to relax, but we talked briefly about our respective adventures. It was great to meet some real travellers again.
“Do you knowwhy there are no women around in the north of Trinidad?” the older guy asked.
“What do you mean?” But I could guess.
“You don’t see them in the street. Just the men.”
“You mean in the bars and restaurants there are only men as well?”
“Exactly.” He pulled a face. “It’s not nice. It’s—”
I nodded and told him about Charlotteville and Roxborough.
“And Parlatuvier?” He pronounced it properly.
“Don’t know; I haven’t been there. After Charlotteville, I had enough.”
So the north of Trinidad is the same. A paradise for drunks. A no-go zone for women.
“You should have no trouble,” I said, looking at the Frenchwoman. “They’re mostly harmless, and you’re with a group.”
She didn’t look too happy and the older guy—who spoke the best English as well as some German—grimaced on her behalf. His sentiments echoed those of the German traveller I had talked to on the way from Charlotteville to Scarborough. It seems that even guys don’t enjoy the company of bums.
To think that I had carried the tent all this way, planning to stay at Marianne’s Beach Resort at Cumana Bay…
Charlotteville is one of the most beautiful places I have seen, and worth millions for the community in terms of small-scale tourism businesses, but it seems that they’re pissing it all away. There and here.
The French made their excuses at a scant twenty minutes to midnight.
“But you’ll miss the New Year! You’ll wake up!”
They grinned tiredly.
“Trust me,” said the guy. “We’ll be out like a light.”
So they went to their rooms and I went back out onto the porch. The time was ten to midnight. The streets were eerily quiet. A sparkler went of somewhere behind the trees, too far to see.
And then it happened. I shouted down the last seconds countdown while the boys got ready with their bangers and a torch. It was basically a repeat of the their earlier hosing around. The sky remained dark.
I’d seen more action on Guy Fawkes Night.
Then, suddenly, all the car alarms started sounding at once and the dogs were howling as crackers were let off all over the city. The sky may have failed to light up, but that was because people prefer to hold on to their fireworks here: