The days of the week in Trinidad are as follows: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Maracas. Maracas Bay is much more than a mere beach. It’s a part of our national identity.
On an island not known for beaches of the talcum-sand variety more common to other Caribbean islands, including Tobago, Maracas comes closest to that ideal. This beach on the North Coast is special. Hemmed in by verdant mountains with a bay almost pinched off by lush headlands, Maracas is different from most featureless, flat beaches in rival tourist destinations.
There are two questions asked of visitors to this country: “Have you had a roti/doubles yet?” and “have you been to Maracas yet?” Ahh…those were the days when we were proud to hold up Maracas as a shining example of how to do it up Trini style. A quick rinse in the tumble cycle of the rough surf is followed by a rapid dry off under the baking sun. A shark and bake that is 98% condiments is washed down with a cold beer. Of course, any serious beachgoer must wedge in some serious old talk as brisk winds coming off the roiling waters quickly fill your mouth with coarse sand.
Trouble is, though, Maracas Bay as described here exists only in memory. Jokey management, staggering incompetence and common-as-weeds corruption are symptoms of a disease that leaves no part of Trinidad and Tobago untouched. What we have done to our own Shangri La is like gazing upon a gleaming new car and deliberately buffing it with sandpaper.
Maracas Bay in 2018 makes the beaches at Normandy in 1944 seem inviting by comparison. It’s hard to imagine how we could have screwed this up so spectacularly. We’ve had money like water in Trinidad and Tobago, but we couldn’t keep a short stretch of beach from falling to ruin? We’re talking about a stretch of sand that’s just about two kilometres long, yet it’s a howling mess. By contrast, Varadero beach in Cuba is 20 kilometres and is, for the most part, maintained in pristine condition. Cuba, by the way, has been in the vise of an economic blockade imposed by the United States for more than 50 years.
This sign sums up everything about the generally deplorable state of a once great beach. You’re either physically at risk from all the detritus of construction scattered everywhere, or you’ll be mentally scarred when confronted with the shocking state of this beach. Maracas Beach now has all the charm of a rusted, abandoned dockyard.
The abandoned vending huts pictured in the background were never really what you’d call a classy addition to the seascape. It would have been ideal if they were constructed with materials that matched the beach environment. Now standing idle, they are a monument to our warped way of thinking in Trinidad and Tobago.
Looks like someone was on a mission when they piled up this heap. All this junk is just mere metres from where beachgoers sprawl on the sand and frolic in the surf. Construction work, which has spanned two administrations, seems no closer to an end and offers no clues on the vision for Maracas.
The beach sand is spread as thin as the peanut butter in a house on a tight budget. Consequently, it’s more dirt than sand. Not so great for walking barefoot on the beach, which is probably not a good idea anyway what with all the scrap metal laying about.
These salt-air corroded steel rods are a bit out of place on a beach, wouldn’t you say? It’s probably unreasonable to expect visitors to the beach to wear industrial safety boots. At Maracas Bay, though, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Don’t be surprised if your baby, crawling on hands and knees, pulls a rusty box cutter out of the sand. That’s how they learn, right?
A crisp five-dollar bill goes to anyone with a close enough guess about the original purpose of what looks like some sort of concrete box. No clue? That’s all right. The money will be right here when you come up with a plausible explanation.
By the way, why there are so many smashed-to-bits concrete benches and tables at Maracas? That’s either some really hardcore liming or somebody didn’t follow the cement recipe for the outdoor furni-tears. The rubble here looks like Hulk was playing dominoes with Thor and them types.
Vendors, who once occupied these digs, have been rehoused elsewhere on the beach. What is baffling is these old structures are yet to be demolished or repurposed. For the time being, they add to the overall eyesore-chic that is Maracas Beach right now.
Curious, isn’t it? This partially-buried outdoor seating looks an archaeological discovery unearthed in the construction process at Maracas.
If there’s one problem that has confounded engineers for several years, it’s the stubborn drainage challenges at Maracas Beach. Civilization will probably get those flying cars before we figure out the hydrology in this environment.
After many millions of dollars and years have gone down the drain, they are the only things that have gone down the drain. These collapsing box drains remain choked with weeks and fetid water. The brickwork is crumbling like a coconut drop and would probably have been outlasted by lego blocks.
What has happened at Maracas Bay is a confluence of the best of us and the very worst of us. No need to spell out which side is winning here. Our beloved Maracas has the look of a plastic surgery junkie going in for one botched procedure after another resulting in a completely unrecognisable appearance.
It is almost criminal what has been done to a national gem, either through neglect, poisonous graft or basic incompetence. Trinis, of course, still visit the beach because it is a national institution, even if in it’s state of disgrace.
However, if you’re entertaining any tourists, it would be best to take them to Tyrico, Las Cuevas or really any other beach along the North Coast. If a stop off at Maracas Bay can’t be avoided, then your best bet would be to set up a picnic table in the car park. It’s the only infrastructural upgrade that seems to have worked out