While out on the Queens Park pick-up fields, we are introduced to Carlan, a steel pan player for the government. On slow days–days when there are no diplomats to play music for–he rides his bike out to the field, orders a snow cone with condensed milk and watches practices and pick-up games.
At 3:30 AM, we finish packing, Gwendolyn loses her passport, and Ryan thinks he’s gone blind. By 4:15 AM, Gwendolyn found her passport, Ryan discovered he stuck two sets of contacts in his eyes, and Ferg is waiting by the car, worried about time.
By 4PM, we are eating okra and pig’s tail in Trinidad, with the family of Gwendolyn’s club coach. Louis, a cousin, takes us walking around the Burroughs of Chaguanas. He wears a beanie with a brim, a red wife-beater, and Lugz boots. We walk by fruit stands, bunches of bananas hanging from string, men with machetes cutting open coconuts. There’s a troop of stray dogs following us. We buy salty, spicy, garlic pineapple, though we did not know it would be salty, spicy, or full of garlic. Luke, who doesn’t like to waste food, keeps offering the plastic baggie to people who walk by. Everyone rejects him, like he is the creepy guy at Halloween who offers poisonous candy to children. Trinidadians drive fast and without fear–aggressively nudging their way into intersections. Louis has the same approach to crossing traffic when on foot–he slings his arm out to the side and the four of us follow like little ducklings into the middle of crossing traffic. Once it turns dark, Louis says, “Without me, someone will put you in a car and steal you. I’ll protect your life.” We smile and nod.