BOBIE LEE DIXON
To lay in the arms of nature, soaking up every bit of her presence, falling in love with her and understanding just
how truly precious she is, is not something we often take the time to do. It may not be our intention to, but when presented with the opportunity, one should not miss it.
This opportunity was afforded to the media last weekend via the Leve-Global Media Familiarisation Tour in Tobago, where we were taken to various locations over a period of three days—May 4 to 6 to experience some of the island’s hidden treasures in the form of restaurants, recreational spots, and natural attractions.
The trip was jointly initiated by Tourism Intelligence International and the Tobago Tourism Agency, a division within the THA.
Starting out early on our first day, we were taken on a 45-minute drive from Le Grand Courlan, the hotel in which we stayed located in Black Rock, to the small fishing and tourist village of Castara, along Tobago’s western coast.
It was not our first time to Castara though, as last year on another familiarisation tour, we visited the historic location except with another specific focus—to witness clay oven baking–a tradition that has been kept and which is hugely popular in Castara.
This time, we were introduced to Castara waterfall, a beautiful exhibit of nature, hidden behind a small creek just past the Castara Main Road. The hike to the waterfall took only 15 minutes. Though short and enjoyable, care in crossing the rocky shallow river must be taken, as one can easily lose one’s balance and meet "butt first" with the same rocks that assist in getting one across and upstream to the actual waterfall.
Once arrived, the cool, crisp water enthralls you and immediately you are compelled to take a dive in the quiet resting water, which sits as comfortable support beneath the flow, cascading down the rocks. The scenery was breathtaking with lots of lush green as the consistent backdrop and the prominent smell of nature, mesmerising your senses and easily invoking an indescribable peace
We were invited by Derrick Lopez, to meet him halfway up the waterfall to join him in a dive below into the sun-warmed water. But as enticing as this offer was, our feet dancing in the water while we sat atop smooth-surfaced rocks, seemed a lot safer and equally enjoyable.
Lopez is the co-owner of Castara Retreats–a number of guest houses built to give visitors that authentic feeling of "home" with the added pleasure of being close to nature. But there is an interesting story behind Lopez becoming co-owner. His business partner is a British lad who visited the sister isle years ago, and on meeting Lopez, formed a solid friendship before becoming business partners. Today, as the adage goes, the rest as is now history.
After an hour or perhaps two spent at the waterfall, it was off to Lopez’s restaurant—Caribbean Kitchen, for some good creole food. We anxiously delved into a packed plate of rice, peas, potato salad, chicken or fish finished with pineapple fresh salad. Needless to say, it was thoroughly enjoyed.
The experience of Tobago’s treasurable locations and culinary "bewitchment" did not end there though. With very little time left to prepare for the last stop of our first day, we managed to make it in the nick of time to Brown Cow—a fairly new family-run, cosy fine dining restaurant situated in Crown Point.
Just when we thought the day was as magnificent as it could be, dining at Brown Cow turned out to be the most superb highlight. Chef Xenon Thomas created an exquisite three-course menu with the theme–Love, Sustain and Inspire Yourself—words that syncronises with Leve-Global’s mantra, which is to promote sustainable tourism—enjoying the energy that comes from the ground, not found in oil and gas, but in the people, food, art, and entertainment. Even the décor of the restaurant screams preservation of the environment with the walls embellished by recycled wooden pallets, otherwise often tossed away.
Thomas said he was a firm believer in creating unconventional meals and preparing them with positive energy, love, and joy. Naturally, what our taste buds would subsequently experience was nothing short of a gastronomic explosion of palette pleasers.
To start, we were served coconut crusted chicken and shrimp mousse with buss-up-shut tucked away inside an
aloo biscuit and glazed with tamarind. In this first course, also included was a tempting beetroot chutney gel, curry mango, and saffron tuile.
Up next, was a creole-spiced sweet potato scaled fish, grilled roucou coo-coo, caramelised green fig, tikka curry
roasted broccoli and sautéed julienne carrots, red pepper butter sauce, plantain, and hibiscus salsa.
To close our appetites, his choice was a simple crème caramel, chocolate chip biscuit, and sorrel spun sugar.
But the food was not Brown Cow's only speciality. While we ate, we were paid a surprise visit
from former Atlantik soca band vocalist Marvin Lewis,who showed off his wide-ranging vocal prowess—belting out renditions of classic soul music, like Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together and Billy Paul’s Me and Mrs Jones.
Our napkins made good for "rags" as we waved them while Lewis switched to "soca-sing-a-longs" like Lord
Nelson’s Meh Lover, and his recently written tribute to the late Winston "Mighty Shadow" Bailey titled, Shadow.
He also did not forget to remind us of his shared 1996 Road March win, Movin'—which was sung along with his brother Nigel.
As the first day of our tour was concluded, we were well entertained. Day one was well spent and now over, but the memories made now forms part of our "forever".