After clearing customs, having our luggage scanned then hand checked by security, Marvin Bartley and I exited the airport in Port of Spain, Trinidad to be greeted by one of our lovely hosts, Richard, who along with Mariel, offered us a place to rest our weary heads.
And, the reason for our visit? Marvin’s work has been featured in a new book called Pictures From Paradise: A Survey of Contemporary Caribbean Photography and we were there for the book launch. The book was made possible by a Trinidadian team: Co-edited by Melanie Archer and Mariel Brown, designed by Richard Mark Rawlins, published by Robert and Christopher Publishers, and has a beautiful opening essay by Jamaican Assistant Curator to the National Gallery of Jamaica, O’Neil Lawrence, whose work is also featured.
At the launch of Pictures From Paradise photography book, Medulla Art Gallery
From left, back: Marvin Bartley, Marlon James, O'Neil Lawrence, Alex Smailes, Mariel Brown
From left, front: Melanie Archer, Abigail Hadeed, Richard Mark Rawlins
|Pictures From Paradise still sealed in their packages during the book launch|
|From left: O'Neil Lawrence, Marvin Bartley, and Abigail Hadeed offer their signatures to book buyers|
Get a peek at the pages here: http://richardmarkrawlins.blogspot.com/
Three of the Jamaican photographers out of the six that have been featured were decked in their sharpest for the night of the launch that was held at the Medulla Art Gallery on Fitt Street on Thursday April 26, 2012. The reception and support was overwhelming and Marvin (M), O’Neil Lawrence, and Marlon James shined, modestly signing signatures and posing for photographs. We also managed to make a few friends, chatting up with the other featured photographers that were in attendance, namely Alex Smailes, Abigail Hadeed, and Rodell Warner, all of Trinidad origin or by familial affiliation.
|Three of Jamaica's finest photographers show their mirth at the Medulla Gallery, Port of Spain|
What's up with the gun salute guys??
After the launch M and I took advantage of the NGC Bocas Literary Festival, which ran for four days from Thursday to Sunday, and were chaperoned by Mariel, Richard, Rodell, and Brianna McCarthy. We had the pleasure of meeting celebrated authors like Kei Miller and Earl Lovelace.
What we noticed about Port of Spain, Trinidad:
The country prides itself on huge land space, but their roads are particularly narrow! And narrow roads spell very skilled and polite drivers. Everyone is surprisingly courteous. So much so, that one day as M and I took our promenade through the neighbourhood’s skinny road, we were verbally attacked with a powerful “Good morning!” from a woman who was quite offended we didn’t address her first. To my defence, even today, I have no idea what she looks like, because I didn’t see her. Nonetheless, we continued our stroll and readily greeted everyone we passed and, naturally, they responded.
|I really wanted a better shot of these cute girls, but didn't want come off as creepy. So I stood my distance|
Nearly everything is cheaper when compared to the Jamaican and US dollar. There are beautiful modern and antique buildings and for some reason the inhabitants never turn their lights off. When we queried this—because we could never dream of doing this in Jamaica—we were told that the electricity bill is moderately low. Yes, so low that we can stand across the street from a department store called Francis Fashion, which has four sets of continuously running escalators, and literally feel the heavy chill of the AC that was blasting through the almost-never-closed glass doors. The benefits of the country owning oil and natural gas rigs.
The highlight of my trip, apart from hanging with some cool peeps, was this young and hip fashion store (which reminded me of Forever 21) called Bang Bang, where I got a pair of aqua blue skinny jeans and bangles. Then there were the delicious roadside delights like “Doubles” and “Gyros” from friendly vendors, who take hygiene very seriously. Finally, I enjoyed soaking in the sing-song accents and expressions of exclamation, like “Eh Eh!” and natives ending their sentences with “boy.”
|Chicken Gyro (aka chicken wrap)|
|My fave, "Doubles!"|
IMPORTANT TIP: How to eat Doubles.
Step 1: Roll it up like so.... Then devour it like a real Trinidadian would. Also if you have it spicy, ensure to spread the sauce around before you roll.
Step 2: Roll that paper into a tiny crumple and discard it in a bin.
Step 3: After successfully not making a mess, celebrate with your friends.
Step 4: Then wash your hands!
|Roadside sanitation at its best! A creation by a Doubles vendor on Ariapita Ave|
Now that you’ve read my experience, what was yours like? And if you have none, you should definitely visit this lovely country. I endorse it!
Here are some more Pictorial Highlights.
The Cool Buildings!
|The Red Building (abandoned House of Parliament building under renovation, for a while now...)|
|Looking up, up, up, into the National Library of T&T|
|The Medulla Art Gallery|
The crazy cool friends and our fashion!
|Me and Trinidadian artist, Brianna McCarthy|
|From left: Marvin, moi, Brianna, Rodell in the basement of the Medulla Art Gallery, Port of Spain|
|O'Neil in the middle|
If you're friends with me on Facebook, you can find the rest of my images there!