When first compiling information for a project on the school system in Trinidad and Tobago, I ran across a fact that, though rather dry, spoke to me. The demographics of the country were noted as being 40% Indian/Hindu, 40% Black, and 20% mixed race or other. I stuck that tidbit of information into my report, rattled it off, and promptly moved on…
That is until I came face-to-face with a large Hindu culture that I have never been able to experience as a Kentuckian, even in the more cosmopolitan areas like Lexington and Louisville. Our guide for the tour was the incomparable Mr. Chandar Supersad, Career & Placement Officer in Student Advisory Services at the University of the West Indies – St. Augustine. Our first stop was in the city of Chaguanas, where we took a stroll and looked at historical edifices such as The Lion House as Mr. Supersad interwove historical narratives of the development of Trinidad and Tobago with his own personal family history.
From there we took a lovely bus tour through Chaguanas and learned about the economic impact of the sugar plantations and saw the beautiful Indian-inspired architecture of many of the homes. Further out of town, we arrived to the Temple of the Sea in Waterloo, a modern marvel that was built completely by hand by an indentured servant named Sewdass Sadhu. The Temple stretches out into the water, a mere 8 miles from the Venezuelan coastline. On clear days, you can actually see to South America!
Before a trip to a local pottery making shop and a fantastic vegetarian lunch, or as my colleagues referred to it, “Sarah’s Thanksgiving,” due to my love of exotic foods and veggies, we stopped at the exquisite Dattatreya Temple and 85 foot Hanuman Murti in Carapichaima. Although visitors are welcomed openly, being in the presence of the beautiful relics of the Hindu religion was contemplative, serene, and a nice break from all the hustle and bustle of the city.
Our entire experience in Trinidad and Tobago was incredible, but our time enjoying the cultural sites in and around the capital Port of Spain were breathtaking in their scope and the most unique part of the trip for me. I am so glad to have Mr. Supersad’s humorous “insider” knowledge of the area he has called home for many years. I hope to return with friends and family one day to share all I have learned and to learn more still!
Disability Resource Center Graduate Assistant for Programming
-University of Louisville International Service Learning Program