Raphael Kessler

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South East Asia 1999

  1. Vietnam - February 1999
  2. Thailand - April 1999
  3. Malaysia and Singapore - May 1999
  4. Indonesia - June 1999
Africa to home, the long way
- Africa
  1. South Africa
  2. Namibia and Botswana
  3. Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya
  4. Uganda
  5. Ethiopia
  6. Egypt
- Middle East and Balkans
  1. Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey
  2. Balkans
  3. Turkey
  4. Iran
- Asia
  1. Pakistan
  2. China
  3. Tibet
  4. Nepal
  5. India 1
  6. India 2
  7. India 3
  8. Sri Lanka
  9. Bangladesh
  10. Myanmar
  11. Thailand
  12. Cambodia
  13. Laos
  14. China, Macao and Hong Kong
  15. Mongolia
- North America and Caribbean
  Caribbean, USA, Mexico and Canada
- Scandinavia and Eastern Europe
  1. Russia
  2. Sweden
  3. Baltics
  4. Poland and Czech Republic
South America 2002
  1. Brazil
  2. Argentina
  3. Chile and Easter Island
Central America and Mexico 2002
  1. Panama
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Nicaragua
  4. Honduras
  5. El Salvador
  6. Guatemala
  7. Belize
  8. Mexico
South America 2003-4
  1. Trinidad and Tobago
  2. Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana
  3. Venezuela
  4. Colombia
  5. Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands
  6. Peru
  7. Bolivia
  8. Argentina
  9. Uruguay and Paraguay
  10. Bolivia 2
  11. Peru 2
Specific Pacific
  1. California to Fiji+ French Polynesia & Cook Islands
  2. Samoa, Niue and American Samoa
  3. Tonga and New Zealand
  4. Australia 1
  5. Australia 2

Trinidad and Tobago


Greetings from Trinidad,

So, now that I am back on the road again you will have to endure the newsletters telling you what I have been up to since last time.

As most of you know, I was home for a little while working on the house I bought, so after working so hard for a while (something that you will also know I do not particularly enjoy working, let alone hard) I decided I needed to take it easy when I got to South America. When I asked my brother Dan (who spent a lot of time in the region) where was good in Venezuela to chill out, he suggested Tobago. This is not a part of Venezuela at all but is a part of Trinidad and Tobago. Still, I followed his advice and after landing in Caracas made my way across the North of Venezuela first to the uninteresting town of Cumana and then to the port of Guiria to get a boat to Trinidad and then onto Tobago.

In Port of Spain (the capital of Trinidad and Tobago) I found accommodation staying with Venezuelan students studying English, which was pleasant and just as I was about to head over to Tobago I found out I had to sort out some administrative things in Port of Spain so had to spend longer there. This did mean that I got to know the Venezuelan crowd better and on the Saturday night the girls tried to teach me how to dance, particularly the Soca (a Trinidadian dance that involves the girl basically grinding her arse into the groin of the bloke who doesn't need to do much at all but smile), which was enjoyable and informative. On the Sunday I finally got to Tobago to do some chilling and diving. That is what I did for the first few days, I checked out a few beaches and did a few dives (saw nurse sharks, southern stingrays, morays, angel fish, barracuda, lobster, crabs and much more.) During the time I was there it was also the annual heritage celebrations which were very low key.

One night I decided to go to a pageant with a couple of the folk I had been diving with, not knowing what it would be. When we got there we were told it was a beauty contest, so looking forward to the swimsuit round (and gaining free entry with my press card) we expectantly found our seats. After some lengthy and tedious speeches from various dignitaries and the sponsor the competition finally started with nine girls from different parts of Tobago prancing about on stage and for some reason apart from representing their home communities, they also represented an African country. The relevance of this was not explained nor was why two of them were representing Egypt. The girls were not the stunning beauties we were hoping and expecting to see, but covered a range of shapes and sizes. After this there was an excellent display of dancing and drumming by some professional performers. Then we were then subjected to each girl making a performance that somehow was supposed to show their talent and also highlight some aspect of the heritage of Tobago. What was most highlighted was that most of the girls did not have any talent nor did they have any idea about the heritage of their island. Several of the performances involved some kind of song and dance and speech thing, one was a dirge like steel pan drum performance, another was a girl and her partner performing the heel and toe polka dance (no apparent relevance or interest there), another was a girl dressed as a fire or something screaming about fire and generally being fiery (this seemed to highlight the proliferation of drugs on the island and scared most of the audience who were about to leave but a torrential downpour forced people to reluctantly stay with in the shelter of the stadium). One of the more confusing performances was a girl who had dressed and made herself up to appear like a victim of domestic violence. She then demonstrated making food for her abusive husband, including squatting over a bucket to provide the water needed for the food. The audience found it all hilarious, we were just confused. After this bombarding of our senses we decided to leave as it was quite painful.

Someone had recommended that we go to see a talent show at another venue so off we optimistically went. The performances at this were marginally better than those we had previously witnessed, although some were just strange. This is without even mentioning the compere who wore what appeared to be a pair of very bad, loud, purple curtains that had been tailored to make an ill fitting suit with a jacket that was much too short and trousers that were so flared, anytime a breeze came along the guy must nearly have taken flight. His compering involved introducing the acts, singing very cheesy songs, telling very politically incorrect jokes and reciting a list of advertisements that were so repetitive and unappealing that it was a wonder anyone would actually pay to be mentioned. The consolation was that at least this place had a bar. By the end of the evening the only decent performances were by one bloke who had a really good voice but a terrible choice of song to sing, a professional group of Trinidadian musicians and a bloke from London who took part in a beer drinking competition provided the best comedy of the evening. After what we had witnessed at the two shows, we decided that Tobago must be one of the most talent-less places around until we saw the performance of a local couple of singers at the Hilton. They were excellent and gave an excellent show and gave exquisite renditions of a number of songs of varied styles. Tobago just about redeemed itself with these two.



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