Gloucester Place on the Island of Tobago
By David Krell
Part rainforest, part idyllic Caribbean island, Tobago is like taking a 25-mile long, 6-mile wide chunk out of Costa Rica, putting pure African and Indian culture as the main influence and sticking it less than 100 miles from South America. It has no poisonous animals (yet the variety of animals one would expect from a rainforest), empty beaches, friendly locals, cheap gas (filling a tank costs less than $12), and easy fishing (fish are literally everywhere). In other words, a person with very little money and no experience living off the land could feasibly do so- and quite easily. That is not to say it is undeveloped, for it is quite conducive to both the backpacker and the weary, “I need things outlined and confirmed before-hand” traveler.
For those folks representing the latter description, Gloucester Place- a bed and breakfast located in Parlatuiver Bay and owned by a wonderful couple named Win and Bea Sargent- exists and thrives for your purpose.
No matter what type of traveler you are or how much money you have, everyone arrives at Gloucester Place in the same manner. A nicely equipped car perfectly fitting for those terrifying mountain roads with no barricades and the Caribbean Sea hundreds of feet below. Yes, driving on Tobago is the most dangerous aspect of being on the island; So much so that each time you arrive at your destination, you reflect on your life and think about how you’re not going to take it for granted ever again. But think of the way you would feel after skydiving. You may have felt extremely vulnerable, but it won’t stop you from recommending it or doing it again.
Taylor Auto Rentals is the recommended car rental spot on the island, and as the days go by, you start to notice that almost every car seems to be marked with “Taylor” on the back windshield. You also realize that everyone has taken part in the limbo competition at Castara Beach, eaten at Eula’s on Englishman’s Bay, and visited Top River Falls. But don’t take this as a sign of predictability or generic tourism, for it is done with the kind of comfortable passion that only genuine love for one’s home country can provide. And Tobagonians love their country, as well as the tourists who come to enjoy it.
On our first day in Tobago, we decided to explore the immediate area surrounding Gloucester Place- if only to meet some of those local Tobagonians.
Walking along the rolling hills between Castara Beach and Gloucester Place, we shared the road with not only local Tobagonians working outside their homes, but cattle loosely tied to ropes attached to the nearest tree. There were no nametags and no threatening signs of what would happen if you stole the cattle- just a cow and a rope and the trust that your neighbor won’t impede upon your livelihood. When you are used to America’s approach (with its electric fences, background checks, and metal detectors), you realize that it’s quite a trustworthy approach to such an important life choice.
In addition, the few miles between Castara Beach and Gloucester Place has some of the best grass on the entire island, which is why everyone puts their cattle there. Perhaps that’s why Win and Bea created Gloucester Place in Parlatuvier Bay, for it is the best spot to experience the most pure and beautiful aspects of the island while not missing a beat. And believe me, there’s a rhythm to the island and it is created by the flow of its locals. This rhythm is in tune because of the overlapping of everyone’s lives. Between the normalcy of hitchhiking (we did it) and the symbiotic relationships shared by the locals, Tobago very much exists outside of the thriving economy that is its sister island, Trinidad. But the important part is that they’re comfortable and secure in this situation, for it’s a natural way of being that anyone who lives in Tobago long enough will naturally step into. Win and Bea, for example, tutor local kids for free, as well as recommending local establishments without expecting anything in return, which is proof that they have seamlessly adapted to the Tobagonian way of life.
This is just one of the reasons that makes Gloucester Place the perfect location to experience the grandeur of Tobago.
Besides creating the perfect atmosphere for exploration outside of their residence, Win and Bea have developed a home you could easily enjoy throughout your visit. Each day that we ventured out into Tobago, we always debated staying in and relaxing, for Gloucester Place forces you into that inner debate:
Should I sit by the pool and stare out into the Caribbean? Hike down a beautiful stream with a series of waterfalls to a beautiful overlook? Sit back, relax and watch the thousands of birds feed inches away from me? Enjoy a meal in an indoor/outdoor kitchen?
Thankfully though, we ventured out each day. If we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have eaten at JoAnn’s, or went fishing on the dock with the local fisherman, or taken part in the local dance competition, or hiked to the top of Top River Falls with no other person in sight.
But what made Gloucester Place even more special was how much it looked and felt like the ideal beach house placed atop a landscape only seen in movies.
Photo left: Gloucester Place.
To me, home is the place you comfortably look forward to after a full day. It is where you breathe that sigh of relief, put your feet up, reflect on the day you’ve just had and look around only to find complete comfort in your surroundings. And if you’re lucky, there will be a pool overlooking the ocean with great company and hummingbirds flying around your head as you listen to your private waterfall in the distance. Sounds forced and created by Walt Disney, but it is actually Win and Bea’s home- and they make great company.
After living in New York City for many years, and experiencing an array of cultures, one would think that traveling outside of this cultural metropolis would make for an easy transition. But what I found is that these hundreds of different cultures do not openly thrive in NYC, they hide in NYC; thus keeping those traditions for their households and tiny enclaves alone. In other words, living in NYC actually made us less prepared for the journey to Tobago. But the way in which Gloucester Place served as the perfect backdrop and the manner in which the local Tobagonians openly shared their culture with us will forever be etched in our memories; so much so that we are secretly searching for ways to make these memories a reality.
Promotional consideration was made by Gloucester Place.
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