“Just like America,” they said

Since landing in Trinidad I hear such phrases often. Journeying out from the airport for the first time my on-again fiancé Andy and his neighbor friend Robert, who came along to do the driving, pointed out such things as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, and Smoothie King–funny how such staples help define America outside of America.

Ivy Gourd – Trinidad – JoAnn Ryan

And let me tell you. KFC is crazy popular here! So is Pizza Hut!

However, despite these clever tactics designed to convince me of the Americaness of Trinidad, yesterday I got to the point where I just had to cry, and please excuse my French here, “bullshit.”

“Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit!”

The culminating factor: the man peeing behind the telephone pole. Making our way to pick out appliances for a completely empty house I saw this taking place with my very own eyes. Then and there I slapped my hand down and said, “bullshit.”

The telephone pole was a short distance from another man who had a table and a small awning set up in an otherwise empty field along the roadside. He appeared to be selling bread and other baked goods and I could only surmise that the man relieving himself behind the telephone pole was his partner in the baking business–just two of the many street vendors to be found here, there, and everywhere in Trinidad.

Hey, and I totally get it. Out in the middle of a field selling bread and you need to go. Why hold it and suffer when there’s a perfectly good telephone pole close by. I’m sure this happens in America, too, although I’ve never personally witnessed it. Obviously they are more covert about it.

Ivy Gourd – Trinidad – JoAnn Ryan

By the way, I say with all seriousness that America is lacking in independent street vendors–at one time such people were the foundation of modern-day America. Pioneer women traveling west would whip up breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the back of their wagons and sell it to hungry passersby. I got into reading pioneer stories at one point in my life. The perseverance it took to travel west in those early days is simply amazing.

In a truly perfect world though, those California dreamers would have baked up their butter biscuits and some sort of savory stew and invited the Indians with their roasted buffalo and garden vegetables. Pass the peace pipe ’round. Thank them for their hospitality on their land and ask graciously for permission to share. The history of America would have been so much different, wouldn’t it?

Washing stations at mall – Trinidad – JoAnn Ryan

One only hopes that these modern-day street vendors selling bread along the roadside have a good bottle of hand sanitizer close by. Beyond this, in Trinidad before going into many stores it’s a requirement to wash your hands first and have your temperature taken before entering the establishment. This is for everyone, not just employees. Above is a wash station set up outside a local mall where we went to do a little shopping.

As I mentioned before, and I will keep mentioning, I’m glad that Trinidad is not “just like America.” Admittedly, things here take some getting used to but that’s all part of the unique and wonderful experience.


I haven’t had as much time to write as anticipated. All this house business to take care of plus Andy’s Auntie Irma died two days before I arrived in country so understandably attending to family took priority. The funeral commenced on Saturday and even though it feels like the world stops when someone dies, life has to go on.

The flower photos hail from the Ivy Gourd growing along a section of our fence line. I think it looks pretty but it will most likely get cut down. The fence is badly in need of a paint job plus Ivy Gourd is considered an invasive weed as it grows furiously. It is native to Southern Asia, where conversely they find good use for it as a source of food.

Hope everyone is doing well!

A beloved Auntie’s funeral – Trinidad – JoAnn Ryan
Ivy Gourd – Trinidad – JoAnn Ryan

13 thoughts on ““Just like America,” they said

  1. Oh dear, please get rid of the bush! Don’t get fascinated by it, it’s bush, weeds….lol! Once you start living there, trust me, you will not like anything about that “Ivy Gourd”. It’s exactly what they said it is – an invasive bush.

    KFC has laughably become the national food of Trinidad. I admit it’s really finger licking good. You can definitely find me in a line at a KFC in Trinidad several times per week when I’m home and at Piarco when I’m leaving. Yes, I do bring my KFC back to the US with me – bes’ believe that! Definitely not the same as KFC in the US.

    As for the man taking a “leak” on the lamp post, that’s a nasty but common thing, unfortunately. It’s really disgusting and has been going on for decades and I don’t think it will ever stop. I’m sure you’d have a few more sightings in the future. Maybe if they start issuing citations if caught in the act it might help.

    Hope you get back soon so you can enjoy the food, music, beaches, festivities and Tobago! You have to go to Tobago!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I did get back a few days ago but I was travel sick until yesterday. Different climate and elevation as I was out west for about a month. The Ivy was gone but the fence was painted nicely so it does look a lot better.
      I keep hearing that they are opening the beaches soon although considering how long it took to reopen the border I’m just sitting back and being patient. Apparently they actually allow you to go on the beach but not in the water. I just love that as it’s sooo TTesque! It makes me wonder what would happen if a person were walking on the beach and suddenly stuck their toes in the water! I don’t want to be the one to find out though, lol!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank goodness the bush is gone – lol!! But what’s the point of opening the beaches and not being able to go into the water? What in the world? Who is going to drive all the way to the beach if they can’t get into the water? Lawd!!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. Knowing locals is the key. My fiancé has a lot of family here and he’s spent a lot of time here as well, which has made the process a whole lot easier! Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Pity the Ivy Gourd has to go. Invasive or not, it definitely has aesthetics on its side. Still, though, a fence, given a new spiffed up life, awaits on the other side. Besides, you’re in the tropics – everything grows like crazy.

    I do disagree slightly about our country having forsaken its street-level enterprise. It still exists, albeit on a different scale. Think of the food trucks which, over the last decade, now are everywhere. Of the storefronts, home once to the sad remnants of a failed business, repurposed today and given new life. Or of the kiosks which lined the malls. Back when we still had malls, that is, but you get the point.

    Anyway JoAnn, I’m eager to read your continuing impressions of a place which, despite a few glancing similarities, is so gloriously different. You’re just off the coast of South America, after al!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I was amazed how close we are to South America. I would love to visit one of these days. Even though Venezuela is consider volatile I’ve heard that if you connect with the right local people it’s pretty safe. Guyana would probably be a much better option though. Seems pretty safe there.

      I’m thinking the Ivy Gourd will have to go because it would be impossible to paint around. I have a feeling it will grow back though and cover a then painted fence.

      You’re definitely right about the food trucks plus Florida has a cottage law that I always wanted to take advantage of but never did.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Guyana would be good, as, like T&T, there’s no language barrier to hinder your absorbing the local culture.

        What you’ve heard about Venezuela, I have about its neighbor, Colombia. Especially now that they have the FARC and the cartel situations somewhat under control, it’s not nearly as dangerous as it was once.

        While you’re planning your travel itinerary, the “Southern Cone” (Argentina, Chile and Uruguay) always fascinated. Oh yes, it’s so easy for me to travel on some else’s dime, isn’t it? No matter where you go, though, your vibrant description and pictures are sure to generate a whole new set of dreams!

        Liked by 1 person

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