Although Anthony Bourdain admits towards the end of Sunday night’s episode of “Parts Unknown” that “no island in the sun is paradise on earth, no matter how it may look” from the outside, Trinidad and Tobago seems to come pretty close at times.
Bourdain visited the dual-island nation just a few weeks before the infamous Carnival to delve into the food, culture, and martial arts of Trinidad and Tobago.
He spends most of the episode on the island of Trinidad, the larger, more lively, and more often-visited of the pair. On Bourdain’s trek through the island, he speaks with locals about Trinidad’s history — one that has been marred by the slave trade.
Although Bourdain describes modern Trinidad as a tolerant place brimming with diversity, he also talks to locals about some of the problems the island faces (gang violence, drug trafficking, ISIS recruitment), and how they believe the population can overcome these deep-rooted challenges.
However these problems don’t mean that Trinidad is not a place worth visiting. Bourdain remarks on the joys of the clear beaches, infectious Calypso music, and selection of rum available.
Those who want to follow Bourdain’s path in Trinidad should be sure to check out the island’s food scene — it’s been named one of the best islands in the Caribbean for foodies. The cuisine is a melange of all the different countries and cultures that have passed through the island, including Indian, Middle Eastern, and European.
Bourdain attended a steel orchestra rehearsal, marveling in the wall of sound created by a multitude of innovative percussion. Travelers inspired by the infectious Calypso beats can even take a class to learn how to dance along.
And those who want to delve hardcore into Trinidad like Bourdain can visit a stick fighting match. Although the practice is still technically illegal on the island, Bourdain spoke with fighters who are keeping the hundreds-year-old tradition alive. In Bourdain’s words, “this is what the New York Police Department would call a deadly weapon.”
Visitors eager to see the practice can attend a national stick fighting competition held at the beginning of Carnival every year. It may just be wise to take a hint from Bourdain and stay a few feet away from the swinging sticks.
Parts Unknown airs on CNN Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET.