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Travel with Respect

It's a good idea to greet a stranger before asking him or her a question. There is no nude or topless bathing anywhere in Trinidad and Tobago (unless, perhaps, you can find a secluded German-owned hotel in Tobago). Avoid all topics related to politics and Black-Indian race relations. Avoid topics related to middle eastern politics as this may offend Muslims. Racial slurs should obviously be avoided. The "N" word is a definite no-no. Using the word "Coolie" to refer to Indian people is also frowned upon. Note though, these words are often used among friends, where no insult is intended. "Honkey" refers to all Caucasians and is not received as a compliment although that doesn't seem to stop many Trinis of other races from using it to get attention. Additionally, some people may take offense to the word "Creole" as it is locally used as a racial slur against people of African descent. However, using "Creole" to refer to some types of food with French origins is not frowned upon.Many Trinbagonians like to discuss sports. Being a former British colony, these discussions usually centre around Association Football (soccer) and Cricket. Soccer is called Football. If you call it Soccer, Trinbagonians may correct you and tell you that it is not the proper name.In Trinidad and Tobago, many of the world's great religions are well represented. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Bah'ai are popular. Judaism is not very popular and is practised mostly among expatriates. Atheism and agnosticism are not widespread although many people will hold agnostic beliefs without being openly agnostic.Some Christians may attempt to "save" you, especially if you are Hindu. Jehovah's Witnesses are also present in Trinidad and Tobago and may try to give you religious reading material and ask for donations. Although Trinidad has a large Indian Hindu community, there are no taboos that Westerners would have a difficult time getting used to. The cow is not so sacred as to prohibit eating beef or wearing leather, however Hindus do not eat beef. (A few ultra-conservative Hindus may take exception to all this, but they are very, very few in number.) Also, the left hand is not considered unclean.Upon arriving in Trinidad a century ago, the Indians lost their former caste, and are considered equal to each other. Occasionally, you might see a swastika, but it has nothing to do with Nazism or anti-Semitism, and is an ancient symbol of the Hindus. Conversely, you might also see the six-pointed star (star of David) inscribed in a building such as a police station, though it has no direct Jewish implication. Avoid asking exactly where in India a person's ancestors came from, as most people simply don't know.Trinidadians can be extremely friendly and hospitable -- especially with guests who share a common religion with them. Be sure to bring small gifts to show you appreciation, as some visitors who had no intention of visiting or staying with locals end up doing so anyway. Some homes (including a few guest houses) in rural areas are not connected to any underground water mains. However, they may still have running water from a large, round, black outdoor water tank. If staying in such a place, be sure to conserve water -- especially in the dry season (or year-round if it doesn't collect rainwater from the roof). If the tanks run dry, water trucks for refills may be available. However, even underground piped water may be rationed during the dry season. In the cities, boroughs, and their suburbs, there should be running water year-round (except during extreme drought). However, in some more isolated areas, there might be water in the mains only once or twice a week. Most homes have tanks to store water, but not all will have pumps. This relies on gravity to move the water, and the water pressure will likely be lower. A few new homes have a wash basin mounted in every bedroom of the house with running hot and cold water (luxurious, even by American standards). Yet, incredibly, they still might not be connected any underground water mains, thus having a very limited water supply. In , if you're not staying in a major hotel, ask about the water situation.

Information from wikitravel.org*

Travel Safe

Generally, it is best to travel with the sun. When it sets, make sure you are in a safe place with people you trust. This is more important in Trinidad than in Tobago. In Port of Spain, areas east of Charlotte Street become increasingly unsafe (but this shouldn't be considered an absolute boundary -- on some east-west streets you can go a block or two further). Stay out of East Dry River, Belmont, and Laventille. The current trend in criminality is kidnapping for ransom, but it is usually directed at local store owners and other prominent Trinidadian families. Foreigners haven't been targeted yet, but it is advisable to be careful just in case. Murder is a common day thing, but is mostly gang-related and not usually at random people.It is best to conceal your valuables in public places. Pickpockets and chain snatchers, while not common, are present, especially in Trinidad. Foreign currency, jewelry and portable electronics (cameras, iPods etc) in particular tend to attract thieves. Do not leave valuables visible in a rental car and it is best to not leave any valuables in the car trunk.Break ins and crime tend to peak around Carnival time (January-March) and around Christmas time (October-December). It is best to exercise caution during that time.For extended stays, register yourself at the nearest diplomatic mission (embassy, consulate) from your home country.

Information from wikitravel.org*

 

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* ecotourdirectory.com is not responsible for the travel advice and travel with respect sections on this page. We would strongly advise that before traveling to Trinidad and Tobago you consult your countries embassy for the lastest guidance.

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