Little America

22 March 2009

Sights of Ruby Tuesday, TGI Fridays, Burger King, and Pizza Hut are a dizzying reminder of how fast paced life is in Trinidad.

The industrialized, oil producing nation of Trinidad & Tobago has an incomparably larger economy than the quiet, tourism-dependent-Grenada. Portions of the country closely resemble suburban America, with fast food franchises and multi-lane highways.

After leaving a Sams Club-esque membership shopping center (called PriceSmart), I was feeling overwhelmed by the massive warehouse full of bulk-sale racks stacked to the ceiling... The flurry of activity and over-the-top consumerism reminded me of why I don't often long for the modern American Dream.

The Wife and I spent a week with her family over the Christmas holiday, and as we prepare for another trip next week, I was reminded that I hadn't touched the forgotten folders of photos. This time, I'm going to make a concerted effort to ditch her family and photograph the more beautiful side of tropical Trinidad. Its people and its countryside are truly stunning - nothing like this slice of Little America.

Chaguanas, Trinidad

Comments

Posted by jody on March 23, 2009 9:37 AM:

Can I ask why you attribute consumerism as a sole American trait? Why focus on America? How about China, and their cheap labor abuse? Or France, home to everything materialistic. Or Africa, the opitomy of abuse and environmental crime and greed?

America is beautiful too. Have you ever heard of rural America.....that part of America that makes up most of Texas and the midwest......also in the East and the west.. It makes up 83% of the land in America, and 21% of its people.

The American Dream isn't over-the-top consumerism. It is freedom to chose what you want, and to go for it. For me and my family, that means worshipping how we choose and the wonderful option of being able to go to school, get a degree in our chosen fields (medicine), caring for those in need and just plain being happy.

Steriotyping is really unbecoming.

Posted by MNBound on March 23, 2009 10:50 AM:

This doesn't feel very tropical, Josh.
Bring us back to the palm trees.

Posted by kyle on March 23, 2009 11:33 AM:

seriously. monkeys and waterfalls please. i see enough of this at home.

Posted by ModernDayGilligan (Joshua) on March 23, 2009 3:32 PM:

Hi Jody,

I seem to have hit a nerve...

I draw my personal parallel to America only because it's where I was born and raised. I cannot personally speak to the consumerism/advertising/corporate backbones of China or Africa because I have not lived there. I hope I have not offended you, but if I have, my apologies.

The French own up to their materialism and call it culture. Americans prefer to pretend their consumption isn't out of control. Over the last decade, the modern American Dream that I've seen pursued has been one of an ideal that 'everyone should buy the biggest house they can possibly afford, drive a full size SUV, and live paycheck to paycheck'.

I didn't say America wasn't beautiful, but I find there's something very unattractive about an American looking neighborhood on a distant tropical island. There's no doubt that America holds plenty of beauty - both in population and in geography. But it doesn't hold a monopoly on freedom of religion or academic excellence. The exportation of American culture has lead to the erosion of treasured Caribbean traditions and pristine locations.

I'd venture to say Trinidad holds a more heterogeneous mixture of people and religion than most of the predominately white, Christian, rural/suburban areas of Midwest America. Over a third of its population is Hindu, another ten percent are Muslim - neighbors who all have freedom of choice without discrimination.

For the rest of you, we will return to our regularly scheduled tropical broadcast in a moment.

Posted by Chookooloonks on March 23, 2009 4:24 PM:

As a native Trinidadian and a naturalized American, one who has spent considerable amounts of time in both countries, I'd say you nailed it, Josh. Well said.

K.

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