It wouldn't be the first time, nor the last.
That morning, one of the many cruises that plow the Caribbean Sea was moored off Scarborough. Some passengers had disembarked for short guided tours of the city and different parts of Tobago.
Others, not even that. They clustered in a small shopping center opposite the port. They disputed a Wifi signal that was of little or no use.
When we pass by and see them in that inertia and lack of interest in Tobago, we feel privileged to double.
For not going on board the cruise. Because we have more than half an afternoon to dedicate to the island. And because we can leave it when we feel like it.
Scarborough: Conquest of Fort King George
We took a taxi. The destination is the King George fort, the city's great monument.
Situated at the top of Scarborough Hill, high above Rockly Bay to which the town would later cling, transport saved us, if only that, a strenuous walk.
The Fort Street slope ends at the historic complex.
The same place where the taxi driver's luck runs out, enraged when he realizes that a pick-up truck has just dented his car.
We leave you to discuss with the person responsible for the incident.
A few steps and we find the top, still armed with black cannons, fitted in slots left open in a meter wall, now on an immaculate lawn.
The cannons aim at the azure and azure blue expanse of the Caribbean Sea. The same aquatic immensity in which the local lighthouse signals the island to navigation.
In our times, Trinidad and Tobago's borders are consolidated and safe from rivals.
Pirates still plague the waters offshore. They attack, above all, small unsuspecting vessels.
Tobago and the Complex Colonial History of the West Indies
In the long era of West Indian colonization, like so many others, these parts of the Caribbean were hotly contested.
Even by less assiduous nations in the race to the New World, cases of Sweden and the Polish-Lithuanian Community.
The various European claimants faced fierce resistance from the Kalina indigenous people, who, despite the fact that the Spaniards based in Hispaniola, managed to kidnap and use them as slave labor.
Until 1628, the many indigenous people who bypassed this fate avoided all attempts to occupy Tobago. Finally, the Dutch got it.
Henceforth, so recorded the History, the island has changed nations more than thirty times.
The cannons that we find scattered around the now museum-complex, in a tropical-luxurious environment dotted with imperial palm trees, will be fewer.
Along with the magazine that provided them with gunpowder and the nearby large cistern, they testify to the commitment of the British, between 1777 and 1779, to building the fortress and preserving themselves as owners and lords of Tobago.
Even so, after only two years, the French reconquered the island and took over the fort.
The already long Tobago ping-pong between French and British continued.
The British took over the island, once and for all, in 1803. They stayed until the declaration of independence in 1962.
From the panoramic zenith of the fort, we can appreciate the ferry that connects Tobago to sister Trinidad, leaving a curved trail in the sea.
We see the hyperbolic cruise ship still moored and steaming over Scarborough.
We just don't see any sign of its passengers, mostly North Americans, at Fort King George Heritage Park, which we continued to explore.
Back to Scarborough
Half an hour later, the day's history lesson learned, we return to near sea level in the far west of Tobago. Pointed to a probable bathing reward.
This time we walked down Fort Street. We wandered around the center of Scarborough a bit. The city proves to be uncharacteristic, little or not at all photogenic. We quickly see the interest we could find in him running out.
We get on a bus. We crossed the neighborhoods of Canaan and Bon Accord, both above the island's main airport and an area dotted with small resorts that an unattractive seafront did nothing to deserve.
On that wandering, we proceeded along a Pigeon Point Road. We drive along the west coast of Tobago. In terms of tropical settings, the case quickly changed shape.
Tobago's Busy Swallows Beach
The path becomes intimate with a hedge of coconut trees that, from time to time, reveals the Caribbean Sea typical of sunny days. Emerald hue, beyond a providential barrier reef, turning turquoise.
The sand increases.
One Swallow Beach seethes under the relentless sun and an unexpected bathing frenzy. That afternoon, dozens of families from the surrounding area bathe there.
They live among fishing boats that serve as a landing place for another local community, that of pelicans.
Not all people from Tobaga rest and have fun.
On a squat property, a few fishermen break and cut freshly caught fish.
Dozens of conflicted pelicans accompany their movements, waiting for the leftovers with which the men can trap them.
We progress north. Without warning, the peninsula goes from open and popular to a paid domain with gates at the entrance.
And the Splendorous and Protected Domain of Pigeon Point
The coastline of Swallow Beach gave way to Tobago's famous Pigeon Point, in the image of Fort King George, which has also been converted into a Heritage Park.
Coconut trees are now emerging from a trimmed lawn. Two signs affixed to the trunk of one of them indicate the parking space reserved for a wedding.
Step by step, we understand why Pigeon Point is said to host the most stunning beaches in Tobago.
The reason for its protected status and the entrance fee.
Pigeon Point Rd winds through coconut trees. He approaches the seaside again.
At the same time, what has become Tobago's trademark tourist spot, its thatched pier.
We stop at the base. We enjoyed and photographed the pristine Caribbean all around.
Two boys come out of the shade of the coconut grove. They suggest that we join the next boat trip glass bottom headquartered there.
We thank you, but we decline. Instead, we walked up the beach. To the exact spot of Pigeon Point and to the other side of the peninsula.
A multinational group of bathers, most of them foreigners from North America, Britain and other parts of Europe, bathe, nap, tan in different shades of Caribbean.
Go to the bar-restaurantRenmars".
They come back with beerscarib", rum punches, mojitos and related tropical drinks. A particular group of vacationers drink them up at the bar, watching football matches shown on TVs.
Everything seems normal and peaceful. As it often happens in these confines of the old West Indies, reality was imposed by a powerful few, for the privilege of so many others.
Pigeon Point: the Ornithological Genesis
The name Pigeon Point is believed to have originated in the early XNUMXth century. By that time, the peninsula was covered by dense tropical bush. This vegetation has survived successive hurricanes and storms.
In, 1887, it did not resist the colonial plans to transform it into a coconut plantation.
Watched the process, a foreman, James Kirk by his name. Now, Kirk was also an avid ornithologist, author of the guide “List of Birds of Tobago”. In a period prior to deforestation, he found that large flocks of wild pigeons inhabited and nested there.
In time, their enthusiasm and witness gave rise to baptism.
As Trinidad and Tobago authorities saw Tobago's tourist importance intensify, they sought to nationalize and manage the island's most potential places.
And the controversy that lingers
Pigeon Point belonged, since 2005, to a powerful conglomerate.
The government was forced to spend a small fortune (around 15 million euros) to acquire it.
For that amount, the promise was fulfilled and, as was due, Pigeon Point was transformed into a Heritage Park.
Controversy arose and continues among the inhabitants, as, once this process was over, the authorities imposed a price on entry to the peninsula, barring its use by the humblest layer of the population of Scarborough, which came to be limited for a long time, but almost always lined with fishing boats, Swallow Beach.
With dusk creeping in, we start a long journey home to Scarborough.
On the pier at Pigeon Point, already against the orange background of the horizon, the boat glass bottom he was returning from his last contemplative navigation.
Delighted delighted passengers.
Fishing boats returned to Swallow Beach, loaded with the fish that feed the city.
In the middle of the boats, persistent bathers prolonged their bathing rest.
Swallow Beach maintained warm water that, for the time being, neither they nor the countless pelicans had to pay for.