Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Port of Spain, Trinidad
(photo below of me overlooking
the island at the office)

Three days of incredible work... this island is so focused on business, it really has a South American feel instead of Caribbean feel. There is still the je m'en fîche attitude of the Islands but there is so much business here that they can't help but be caught up in it. The city has some of that charming Caribbean architecture of peaked roofs, decorative wrought iron railings and shutters, but it's next to modern cement buildings. And you'll see poor stores and shops right next to a BP office. Quite the juxtaposition.

A few "Trini" facts -

- they make coffee but they don't drink it. It's nearly impossible to find coffee. The Hilton had the best and it was Maxwell House. We drank instant in the office.

- they make cocoa but they only export it.

- good food is hard to find; bad food isn't. Worst restaurant I've eaten in for the last 10 years was at the Crowne Plaza. Overcooked and bland.

- everything's expensive. Lunch at TGI Fridays (yes, I did go, and no, it wasn't exciting - again, hard to find good food) was $30 a person including tax/tip.

- coldest place I've ever been. Air Conditioning CRANKS everywhere.

- the Savannah is a 280 acre park (!) in the middle of town. But it only goes one way. So if you want to go to the Indian restaurant only 5 blocks from the office, you can only drive one direction - it takes 10 minutes to get there because of the traffic around the Savannah!

- people are always smiling and very laid back. no sense of stress.

Best part of the trip: dinner at the Indian Restaurant, Aspara. Phenominally good food, great atmosphere, clean and the service was amiable and attentive.

Some photos:
Traditional architecture / The new Hyatt Regency Trinidad

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Port of Spain, Trinidad

After a long flight - 9 hours including layovers from Chicago - we arrived and waited on the tarmac maybe 15 minutes before the pilot said, "our apologies, but we've called customs to tell them we are here... but nobody is answering..." Welcome to the Islands!

I spent two months in Puerto Rico in the mid-1990s and dread the Caribbean work ethic. What an experience it will be these next few days!

Arriving at the Hilton (the Hyatt isn't built yet), I felt like I had arrived through a time warp. Upon checkin, I was offered a very yellow drink in a martini-ish style glass with red and yellow straws. Strolling through the lobby with a very 70's infrastructure (and a semi-successful attempt at updating it), I suddenly took a time warp back to 1967. I don't think the hallway carpet has been replaced since then. A glance at the painting of two pineapples against the peach wall in the hallway, I entered my room and flipped on the t.v. Appropriately, Ocean's Eleven - the original with Frank, Dean, Joey and gang - is on the tv.

What year is it?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Mendoza - Snow in August

What an amazing experience. It is 95 degrees F in Chicago but in Mendoza it's barely above freezing. In class on Wednesday someone said "Look!" and when we peered out the windows, we could see snow coming down hard (not sticking, grant you) over the plaza.

I don't ever remember snow in August. I bought a fleece at the airport in Santiago to prepare for this, just in case.... thank goodness that I did!

We finished class a bit early.... thank goodness, we're all truly tired... and the view of the snow covered mountains behind the Park Hyatt is truly memorable. Stunning. A few photos below: