Monday, December 23, 2013

Tobago Peeps: Free Public Wifi Consultant (FPWC)

Pavilion at Scarborough esplanade, Tobago

I sit here at the table in my “office” taking time out from uploading some photographs to take in surrounding sights, sounds and scents: the echo of children’s feet as they scamper toward KFC, the grind of a blender, piped mall music, low buzz of voices, smell of disinfectant, young man cleaning tables, chairs scraping as he moves them aside, idle squeaks of rubber soles on shiny floor as bored child in blue school uniform waits for mother to make purchase in nearby jewelry store. 

I look back down at my laptop and observe: a mere 45.06MB of 93.14MB, uploading in more time than it would usually take. The free public wifi (FPW) is crawling today in Lowlands Mall. Two tourists, seeing me working at my laptop, come and ask what various people in the mall have approached and asked me on occasion: “Do you get free wifi here?” Of course. Their faces light up, possibly anticipating the pleasure of uploading sunny beach photos to Facebook to tease their city-dwelling friends back home.

When I moved to Tobago in October 2012 and went to live in Goodwood on the southeast coast, I didn’t know I would become an expert in sourcing free public wifi. Goodwood, approximately 20 minutes from Scarborough, heading in the direction of Speyside, is peaceful and unhurried, except for cars that often screech perilously around the bends.

My apartment, perched on a height  at the edge of the Atlantic and nestled amidst trees, came naturally equipped with constant surround-sound waves and birdsong, a front-seat view of sunrise and an impressive chandelier of stars that had little or no light pollution to compete with their brilliance. Such a place could make anyone feel that they are on an extended retreat...not only from the “civilised” world but, often, also from the virtual world made accessible by the Internet.

It was the unpredictable, sometimes non-existent Internet signal in the area that drove me to seek and discover hotspots that were oases in the internet desert. For those who are ever seeking free wifi in Tobago, below are a few points on my two most-frequented FPW locations—Lowlands Mall and the Scarborough Esplanade. The mall...ideal for rainy days or for those who enjoy air conditioning.

Wifi availability and strength: A selection of reliable internet connections, all password-free: bzone, Haagen Dazs, Linksys, Digicel. Sit anywhere in the mall and send/receive e-mails, surf the net and conduct Skype meetings with few or no glitches. Signal strongest in/near the food court. Ambience and amenities: Pleasant tropical d├ęcor with a modern twist, air-conditioning, consistent but generally undisruptive mall noises, variety of fast-food outlets, clean washrooms, diverse shops and  MovieTowne.

Seating: High or low chairs at small but comfortable round tables. Parking: Large car park, few cars. Finding a spot is always easy. The car park/pavilion at the Scarborough Esplanade...ideal for those seeking an FPW experience with an outdoor flavour.
Wifi strength: Consistently strong for general use, inclusive of Skype—but wavers and sometimes disconnects during calls.  

Ambience and amenities: Ocean view, refreshing sea breeze, various creole food sheds for an assortment of eats and drinks, constant but undisruptive hum of traffic and, sometimes, wafting background music or amplified religious conventions.

Seating/accommodation: Option of open-air concrete seat and table sets (minus umbrellas), shady pavilion with benches and (for those who come with and stay in their cars) padded seating, air conditioning and personal music selection
Parking: Secure (guard on site) and small but, in my experience, always an available spot.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The first article of my new newspaper column

Today the first article in my new column in The Trinidad Guardian (one of the 3 daily newspapers) appeared. My column is called "Tobago Peeps" and (now that I live in Tobago) will feature little 'peeps' into random events and encounters in my life there, often featuring the 'peeps' (people) that I meet along the way.

This first article features random snippets of experiences:

The articles, which will appear every Monday, are little 'bites' of no more than 600 words each, with an accompanying photo.

(Article in text):
The ferry lurched on huge waves as we left Tobago. The Baptist-looking woman sitting across from me said calmly, “Tobago waters always rough, yes.” In the background a man (who had been guzzling puncheon in the aisle with his friends before we sailed) clung tightly to a pole near the cafeteria. A man nearby shouted to him, “Yuh holdin’ onto dat post like Jack Warnah!”


Sitting in the Gulf City Lowlands Mall. Smiling man in ethnic garb comes and sells me a laminated A4 sheet with a poem called Love.
Man: “Yuh looking like a cultural lady. And yuh have spiritual eyes.
(Gives me poem, takes donation): “Stay loving.”
Here is the poem:
The love of God must dwell in the Heart of Humanity
Love thinketh no Evil
Love does no evil to anyone, but only Good
Love bears no Malice, Envy or Grudge
Love does not take advantage of other's Weakness
To advantage its own self
Love Boasts not, nor puffs up with Pride.
Gentle not Rough, Helpful not Lazy,
Love does not behave in an unreasonable manner.
Love is not easily provoked, impatient or fretful.
Love rejoices not in others’ misfortunes
But rejoices in Truth.
Love seeketh the Wellbeing of others also
And not only Me, Myself and I.
Love is fair and just, not biased or prejudiced.
Love does Violence to no one.
Love does not lose control of its Temper and do harm or injury
Or curse its fellowman and say it was a mistake.
Love has self-control.
Love does not encourage anyone in wrong doing.
Beloved, if God so loved us
We ought to love one another.


I was on the grounds of Healing with Horses. A guest appeared holding a small puppy that had been hiding in the garden. Shortly after, she returned with another pup. Both female, seemingly abandoned. Two children, there to ride horses, became fascinated with the pups. The little boy began “massaging” them while his sister stroked them.

 At one point the boy yelled: “Ouch!” The girl turned to me and whispered: “He just got bitten on his privates.”


Behind a line of trees near the fishing depot at Fort Granby is a wooden house with a wide verandah. Upon first seeing it I wondered who lived there. I found out early one morning after a beach walk, when I took a friend to see “this fantastic wooden house.”
The owner, who was on the verandah, beckoned for us to enter, dipped inside and resurfaced with three bananas.

Carl. Elspeth. Barbara.
As we munched on our bananas, Carl told us that he had built his house and, as a boatbuilder, had also trained most of the young men in the area to master the craft. “They are like my sons. I am like a father to them and they look out for me.” He laughed when asked what he does now that he no longer builds boats. “The last person who asked me that, it took 30 minutes to answer them. I do everything.”

“Everything” included the CD he subsequently slipped into his CD player for us to hear. His latest release: Christmas in Barrackpore—a festive parang mix currently enjoying local airplay. “Are you from Barrackpore?” “No. Tobago.” So how come Christmas in Barrackpore?” “That’s just what came.”  As one who doesn’t believe in the divided notion of Trinidad and Tobago, of course he could be from Tobago and sing about Christmas in Barrackpore.  “All of we is one.”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Open 2014 with a Table for Two ... just for you and yours.

Photo: Elspeth Duncan
Fort Granby Beach, Tobago

Will you be the first couple to dine at Table for Two. Made for You. in Tobago in 2014? The night of Wednesday 1st January 2014 could be all yours ... 

Book now for this extra special way to open the doors to the new year ahead.

Table for Two. Made for You. is for those with a taste for adventure. The adventure of discovering a new realm of togetherness with your special companion ... exploring your six senses in simple, memorable ways ... enjoying a creative culinary experience that will take you out of your everyday world without you having to be anywhere but 'here'.

To make your reservation, please fill out the booking form at the link provided. We look forward to receiving it ... and you.