Trinidad and Tobago



You remember the saying about taking life's lemons and making lemonade? The people of Trinidad went one better: They took old oil drums and created a unique style of music that has become the soundtrack to tropical relaxation.

Steel drums—made from the bottoms of oil barrels—were first heard in Port of Spain in the 1930s. The instrument says much about the people of Trinidad: They're resourceful, drawn to lively music and willing to use whatever's available to get a party started. In fact, it's said that the steel drum (also called a pan) was born when poor Trinidadians needed a musical instrument for Carnival, the festival of frantic revelry that is another of the island's claims to fame.

By contrast, Tobago, the other island in this Caribbean nation, is more like the dreamy picture that comes to mind when you hear a steel drum: swaying palms and fishing villages, sandy beaches and azure seas teeming with fish. The island moves at a more leisurely tempo than Trinidad, but with this kind of unspoiled scenery and uncrowded atmosphere, it's a slow dance that no one is in a hurry to end.

In addition to the usual offerings of beaches and watersports, both islands have stretches of tropical rain forest and nature preserves—seeing a scarlet ibis in the wild is a particularly wonderful experience. So much variety makes Trinidad and Tobago a good destination for those who want to sample a lot of the Caribbean in a small space. Trinidad also has a melange of racial contributors, so much so that they consider themselves the original Rainbow Nation.

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