Top 5 things you can do as an expatriate in Trinidad and Tobago
When you live and work in a country like Trinidad and Tobago as an expat, it’s not just all about learning how to navigate the business eco-system, it’s about threading your way into the culture and everyday life of the twin-island nation. Marcus Brandt, Chief Operations Officer at Oldendorff Carriers, who moved here 1.5 years ago can tell you there’s “certainly a load of things” he enjoys on both islands such as kite-surfing on the beach, hiking and simply just savouring the year-round warm weather.
Ben White, Head of Americas at Austal says “Trinidad and Tobago offers expatriates a comfortable lifestyle – high quality international schooling; shopping and restaurants; unique eco-tourism experiences…such as interacting with leatherback turtles and varied species of humming birds; and easy access to other travel destinations such as Latin America and within the Caribbean.”
The World Bank’s 2015 Doing Business Report
now ranks Trinidad and Tobago among the top 10 improvers for implementing the most reforms to make it easier to do business. One can presume that with such headway made, investors shouldn’t have to be spending long hours sifting through piles of work permit applications and license approvals. There’s enough time after working hours to get unplugged in the zesty outdoors of Caribbean
Here are a few ideas to think about:
1: Try a different restaurant every week.
Both islands can boast of mouth-watering cuisine that’s comparable to the best you can find in Brazil or New York’s Manhattan for example. Trinidad and Tobago’s rich cultural diversity
combined with a flair for international cuisine are blended into a unique fusion of eclectic flavors that’s unmistakable in the talent of local chefs.
John Aboud, Executive Chef at the very trendy Aioli restaurant, says “we are committed to a menu and an experience that would satisfy a sophisticated palette, using only the highest quality ingredients. Our guests are people who love food, whether it be Mediterranean inspired, global fusion or nouvelle Caribbean.
It is a phenomenal experience as a chef to be challenged by our special event customers to come up with menus to pair with particular wines or using special ingredients but which stay true to Aioli. As a result we see many repeat customers some of whom are from overseas but who spend time with us on every visit and it provides great validation that we are on par with the world's food capitals!”
Apart from Aioli, other well patronized establishments include Buzo Osteria Italiana, Chaud Café & Wine Bar, Kaizan Sushi, Kava, La Cantina, More Vino/More Sushi, Prime, Hakka, Bonkers, Bella, The Seahorse Inn, Texas de Brazil, Kariwak Village and Jaffa’s.
2: Exhilarate yourself on the beach every weekend:
Whether it’s at Maracas Bay and Toco in Trinidad, or Store Bay and Pigeon Point in Tobago, you won’t find a better natural spa treatment than the invigorating salt of Caribbean sea water to rejuvenate you on the weekend. This is a must, especially if you’re coming from a temperate country where beaches may be few and far between.
Allan Higgin, Project Manager at Oldendorff Carriers for just about 6 months, says his preference is already Maracas where he always buys a ‘bake and shark’ - a popular, succulent local fish sandwich worth driving miles for. His expat friends however regularly rent boats to go to Tobago or even spend some time on the smaller islands around Trinidad (‘down the islands’ as we call it). According to Allan, “the nature in Trinidad and Tobago is beautiful, thus in my opinion outdoors activities are a must.”
3: Rehydrate yourself with fresh local fruit:
You’re never tasted such a variety of mangoes before? From Julie to Starch, Vere, Calabash, Doux Doux, Rose, you name it, you can find it here in Trinidad and Tobago. Have you ever had real guava, sapodilla, passion fruit or soursop juice? Plus, what about a cool-down with a real coconut around the Queen’s Park Savannah? It’s not just the fine white sprinkles you see on desserts, this coconut is the real deal.
According to Shari Novick of Planet Sur who’s visited the country on business at least 5 times within the last year, coconut water is not only a delightful refresher when she’s working outside on a hot day, she’s recognized the hydrating power of its electrolytes as it heals the body of impurities. Now she looks for it in New York, but it can never be the same as when it’s direct from the tree and you’ve picked it out yourself.
4: Lime’ on the Avenue:
The 2013 World Happiness Report
from the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network ranked Trinidad and Tobago as the happiest country in the Caribbean after Suriname, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Haiti. This comes as no surprise to some. Barring the actual judging criteria, it seems pretty credible when you observe the excitement that takes over at night and the prolific amount of ‘liming’ (local term for ‘hanging-out’ or socializing) at many of the hot-spots on and around Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook.
5: Play ‘mas!
‘Mas’ or masquerade - This is not a Mardi gras, this is the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival and most would call it ‘the greatest show on earth’. You can spectate or participate inside a plethora of colourfully clad masqueraders jumping to the beat of the steel drum or to the music of top soca (a fusion between calypso and modern beats) artiste Machel Montano and others. No other Caribbean island does it this well. Once you find yourself moving like a local in a ‘Tribe’ or ‘Harts’ band you know you’re no longer an expatriate, you belong here!