Words Nick Jones & Jem Hall // Photos Nick Jones, Karel Tyc and Stephan Gölnitz
DA REAL DEAL
When one thinks of a visit to a Caribbean island, one tends toward the romantic notion that consists of azure warm waters gently lapping against bright white coral sand beaches that are fringed with tropical trees and plants. The locals are friendly with broad bright white smiles and wherever you go there is fresh fruit and fresh fish being fried or smoked, all to the soundtrack of steel drums or thumping (almost) sub-sonic bass. Around every corner there is the promise of authentic adventures and crazy characters who readily welcome you into their world.
However the reality is often one where the promise of the tourist dollar has transformed the idyll into a ‘Disney’ version – large cruise liners deposit their cargo of flabby and lazy humanity that just want an easy ride. Hawkers harangue them – trying to sell them inauthentic tat or fabricated food as they pass through a conveyor belt route of “must-sees” – each stop on the pre-determined itinerary a plastic version of what was once there. Tired and clichéd experiences that are packaged up and presented to the visitor as authentic – but neither party truly believing the charade that has been presented.
Thankfully Tobago falls into the former, rather than the latter. It retains much of its authenticity, thanks in large part to a local government that keeps a very tight control on development and ensures that the interests of its people and the environment are paramount – resisting the lure of a quick buck offered by outside corporations that may wish to plunder the natural beauty of the island.