On our last morning at the guesthouse, one of the owners served our breakfast personally. Our freshly prepared meal included thick slices of roti, a stovetop-cooked flat bread; sautéed pumpkin; bodi, a long string bean simmered with onions and tomatoes; and fried plantains. The fresh sorrel juice with lime was refreshing and gave us a starting point for our conversation with the owner.
Quiet as it’s kept, we hope to own and operate a guesthouse one day, so we always take notes and ask questions in our travels as tips for the future. Much like we expected, hospitality can be an unpredictable industry, so it’s best done out of love for service and the people you serve. Hopefully, at whatever point in time our vegan B&B comes to fruition, we won’t rely on it to line our pockets but will take it up as a venture and adventure.
Shalom House B&B was quiet during our stay. The décor is tastefully simple with beautiful landscaping. At times, it felt more like a home stay minus the ever-present host family. Even though we hoped for some more instruction or direction at times, we appreciated the great deal of trust extended to us and used Wi-Fi to communicate with our friends in the absence of a phone.
One of our hosts mentioned taking a trip to Maracas Bay, Trinidad’s most popular beach on the Northern coast. However, flooding rendered the drive unsafe. Instead, they picked us up from our guesthouse with just enough time to resettle into their home and gear up for a trip to Manzanilla Beach in the east. Eager for the expedition, we sat back and enjoyed the ride, eating our way through the journey, once again.
Arriving at Manzanilla Beach, we were disappointed to find the beach facilities closed but ventured further down the coast. Miles of palm trees bent and tilted to accommodate the weight of winds blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean lined the path. In Jamaica, those palm trees would have likely been forfeited to make way for an endless string of coastal resorts, but tourism is not a major concern in Trinidad. They’ve got oil and don’t need to hustle tourists to make a buck.
Shortly after arrival, the northern storm caught up with us. We had just arrived. While Urbndervish and I would have probably turned around, we stayed and had a lot of fun–in the rain–on the beach. It was really uncharacteristic for us, but no one else seemed concerned. So we just took it all in stride, much like our hosts did. After more than an hour in the water, jumping in the waves with her dad, we had to bundle up a chattering Lil’ Z who still wanted to return to the sea. Instead, she found interest on the shore shortly before one of our host’s relatives caught a sting ray when fishing. Urbndervish was in disbelief that we carelessly swam in those very same waters, but we played the cool Trini part and nervously laughed it off.
Finally packing up the caravan, we stopped for boiled and roasted corn on the way back and headed straight to a halal Chinese restaurant right across from a large green mosque. Instantly, Urbndervish and I recalled that we attended Friday prayer services at that same mosque seven years ago and ate lunch at the infamous Young Ho Lee’s right across the street. Back then, this eatery seemed novel but now there are Chinese restaurants scattered throughout Trinidad–many of which bear the halal logo. Such indicates just how significantly the Muslim community is felt and heard. We took home stir-fried Tofu dishes for dinner and turned in for the night.
Another day without a plan, we drove around with our hosts through Port of Spain, passing Queens Park Savanah, the Red House where Parliament sits, and the downtown shopping district. With an idea to ascend to Fort George, a blocked roadway stopped us in our tracks, so we turned around and headed out west towards the bay where the yachts dock. For a moment, we imagined what a life on the endless sea would be like–sailing to wherever your heart’s content and not paying rent…hmmm…tempting.
After driving ‘round town, we ended the night at Rasams Indian Restaurant– great ambiance, great food, and even greater company. With our friends, both new and old, we sealed a wonderful time in Trinidad, limin’ halal-style with great sisters and brothers that we hope to reunite with again soon.