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I had to post this Airbnb chat from a potential guest that would have stayed by me in Trinidad. This conversation affects me on so many levels:  Timing is everything, Technology, Communication, Strangers, Potential Friendships, Hardships, Life Changes…always.  Meet Paul.

August 2014…


Hi Natalie!

I am staying in Trinidad in late September for a friend’s wedding. I have a couple of days after the wedding to myself, and am not entirely sure what to do before heading back to London. I’ll be in Tobago for a few days, then staying in Santa Cruz around the wedding and then I’ve Sunday 28th and Monday 29th Sep before heading to the airport on Tuesday afternoon.

From the reviews of your place, you appear to be a wonderful source of knowledge of this sort of thing – any tips? I’m keen to get as good a feel of Trinidad as possible, while not spending my whole two days travelling around in taxis (I was thinking about heading to Maracas or Grande Riviera, but am now wondering whether it’s better to stay between Santa Cruz and the airport… hence finding you).

Any help greatly appreciated,



Hi Paul! I am unfortunately out of the country till the end of October and just rented my place until then. If you are a nature person and want to disconnect from society Grand Riviere is wonderful. I could ask my friend where she stays when she goes. Its not that lively on Ariapita Avenue on a Sunday or Monday if you wanted to bar hop.  If there is a sporting activity on, such as cricket, then the city would be alive.  If you enjoy chilling by yourself, there’s a lovely wine bar called “Dr!nk” on Rosalino St and Robert St. Let me know how else I can help! I actually came to Italy to disconnect from the world so I am having a hard time coming up with ideas. Most guests arrive and when we start chatting than I know exactly where I can take them.


Hi Natalie,

Thank you very much for your prompt and helpful response.

I think I shall probably head to Maracas Bay for a couple of days – I’ll
then sandwich wedding madness with doing nothing in Tobago and doing
nothing again on the beach in the bay…

Will definitely check out Dr!nk if there’s time during the day before I
jump on a plane. Failing that, I’m sure to be back at some point, given the
couple in question are liable to leave London for Trini before too long.

Thanks again and enjoy escaping in Italy :)



If it’s a good wedding with good people, I am sure they will be doing Maracas Bay, etc., and will take care of you.  It’s supposed to be the island hospitality ;)



Hi, just wondering how the wedding and your stay was?


Hi, Natalie. Thank you for your message. How terribly sweet of you to ask. The wedding and stay was lovely, thanks. It was probably not by any means a ‘standard’ introduction to T&T, given that there was some sort of wedding event every day for the whole week before the wedding, so as far as I know, everyone has parties for 100+ people round a swimming pool every night and you all have at least 15 cousins. The couple of days I spent in the rainforest in Tobago by myself were also amazing, for completely different (rather more peaceful) reasons. How was your own holiday?


That’s great. I figured if you were coming for a Trini wedding there would be plenty of ‘island hospitality’ as they make sure there is always something to do. Glad you got to get some peace-of-mind time as well. I have over indulged in mine, as I have spent almost 3 months at a friend’s summer cottage, by myself. Well I did travel with my rabbit so not totally alone. But it has been wonderful being disconnected from society. Now the anxiety begins as I prepare to go back next week and reinvent my life for the future. Ciao ;)


Wow. Three months alone in a summer cottage sounds borderline heavenly. May I ask what the reinvention entails? Part of both my job and my general interest is taken up with how and why people choose to do what they do with their time, so big changes (esp keenly thought-through ones inspired by rabbit-friendly off-grid getaways) are particularly fascinating… :)



The boutique I started 11 years ago began a slow decline in the last 3 years and now it’s to the point where decisions need to be made. Plus I have been going through a very corrupt legal battle in Trinidad regarding a doctor that almost had my leg cut off and now finding out my attorney may have done something illegal to have my case abated.  A friend suggested I get away for a while and asked her mother if I could stay in the summer cottage for a few months. I thought it extremely irresponsible as I still have a lease on a store and an apartment. It worked out finding people to rent both for the 3 months so I decided to do it. However, I have used every last cent, except my retirement savings, on this break from society/reality. During this time I have remembered and discovered what I like and don’t like. Firstly, I feel more intelligent outside of Trinidad, so much more depth to meeting people and absorbing new surroundings. Trinidad is very much a culture of who you know and I feel like I am swimming in mud there. Plus, I can not live around so much poverty and dirt anymore. The selfish mistreatment of animals and their environment, with too much talk about the problems of the country and no one getting up to actually fix it. So much potential and natural beauty, it saddens me. Yet, I will never be accepted. I have decided to give up my store; so easily typed in 4 words ‘give up my store’ yet it feels like handing over a childhood snuggle toy that was your security. I feel the only place I can move to is canada, as that is where I am from. Although I don’t fair well with the cold weather hence why I left in the first place. Right now in the so called summer cottage, I have a silk scarf tied around my head to protect cold air from going in my ears, plus a beret to keep in the warmth. I wouldn’t mind putting on gloves as well but I don’t have a pair. So I have no more funds and fear when I go back to Canada I will have to get a job, which I feel I am too old (42) to hire plus I have no idea what job to apply for, I have no idea where to live, it will have to be a town since I don’t care for the city life, but what town, I am fed up of renting and considering taking out my retirement savings to use it as a downpayment for a house in a small town, but then what job, jobs are hard to find in small towns,,,etc etc I then stumbled on a  bnb for sale in a town called stratford. It is remarkable. I really enjoy meeting people for short periods and helping as much as I can. I need cdn$120k just for the downpayment. I then cant tell if this is just another one of my ideas where I can piece together a story for how it will play out but then reality never plays out how you wrote your dream story. Although, I am glad to hear that all my friends agree that I should have a bnb. It is almost as if they could recognize my dream job before I can. As for the rabbit, the short version is, a gay friend of mine that was very much attracted to me, knew I liked rabbits, he knew I always wanted a family. Since he couldn’t give me a kid… he gave me a rabbit. I created a handcrafted label inspired by the rabbit called Hopson Park, which i have spent the last 2 months figuring out wordpress. you can check out the site to get an idea of what I am attempting…


Too much info? :) What kind of job do you have?


One can rarely give “too much” info, when it’s delivered so thoughtfully and interestingly.

Your story is fascinating; thank you for sharing. Cliched as it may often sound, there are, I feel, few more valuable experiences than “finding oneself”, or, as you put it, “remember[ing] and discover[ing] what I like and don’t like”. It’s too easy to slide through life and never actually get around to this. If I were you, I’d feel lucky that I’d done it while you still probably have about two-thirds of your adult life left to enjoy the benefits :).

Sounds like you wouldn’t take on the store were you starting from scratch today, so giving it up is not so much giving it up, as giving up the sunk (largely emotional) cost of it – which should count for nothing (easier said than done of course, but still very much doable).

Very best of luck with the move – Canadians are unfailingly lovely, in my experience (a couple of them have just moved into the flat next door to mine, which is nice), and seem to be predisposed to provide energy, rather than suck it all away.

As for my job – I’m technically a financial planner, but the numbers bore me (and are usually at best an irrelevance and at worst a distraction for the types of clients I deal with, i.e. rich folk), so the focus is often more what the good folk of Southern California would probably call “life coaching”, but I’d probably just call it helping people to make better decisions / allocate their limited time more effectively :).


So glad you were my possible guest and we had this chance to chat. Best Wishes to you, Natalie Purvis


It still amazes me that from all this,Paul is still a dark grey generic head with a lighter grey background.

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