This photo was taken in 1987 during my very first trip to the island of Tobago in the Caribbean. Nobody ever knows where Tobago is. It is the sister island of Trinidad, and is located about 90 miles off the coast of Venezuela -- due east of Aruba, if you will. Tobago is the very last island in the Caribbean chain before you reach South America, more or less. In fact, my mom, when she was alive, would always say, "Are you going to South America?" instead of "Are you going to Tobago?" ha ha.
|My favorite pic of myself, with Tobago the dog!|
I deliberately did not retouch or Photoshop this picture. It is actually a paper snapshot from "back in the day" before digital cameras.
The way I see it, this should not be my favorite photograph of myself. I was going through a horrible time in my life. While I was in Tobago, my father died, 6 days after the birthday we shared. I was going through a divorce, and had just come off of the worst six months in my (relatively new) travel career: the terrorist attacks of 1986 (terrorism was new then) had caused thousands of our customers to cancel their 1986 and 1987 tours. I had spent six months handling phone calls from angry clients wanting refunds. It was a horrible time. I spent the first few days of this trip with Gil, and then he went home. It was while I was by myself at his house that I learned my father died. I didn't go home for the funeral. People said I would regret that for the rest of my life. They were right, but I was 27 years old, young and stupid. I needed this break from "life". I needed to recharge and find myself. I stayed on the island and did not attend my father's funeral.
A week after Gil left, and I had been by myself (can't believe I did that!) my co-workers arrived, and we spent another two weeks on the island. It was, and would be, the only time I would spend a month in Tobago, even though I have been there dozens of times since. One of my co-workers snapped this photo for me.
The dog in the picture is named Tobago. Most dogs on the island are not big. He was the biggest dog on the island. If you see dogs on Tobago these days, you'll notice the black snout, and the brown coloring. We feel that Tobago the dog bred himself very strongly on the island (to this day there is still an aversion to spaying and neutering -- as with most Caribbean islands). We think his genes live on in the Tobagonian dogs of today.
Tobago the dog was a jumper. When he would greet people would jump on them and scratch the hell out of them (not deliberately), but because most people were wearing bathing suits, they'd get some awful scratches. But other than that, he was a pretty cool dog, and he lived a long time in Tobago years, which is not very long (dogs die young there, as a general rule).
The island of Tobago is frozen in time. While the landscape changes due to erosion and too much building, the people never change. The locals still fish using large nets and everyone in the village helps pull the nets in each day. It's incredible to watch this more or less primitive tradition taking place. Tourists call Tobago "paradise". I'm not sure it still is, but back in 1987 it was as close to paradise as I had ever experienced. The Beatles and Princess Margaret (separately!) spent time on this island.
|The most beautiful sunsets are on the island of Tobago -- second to none!|
While I didn't travel WITH Tobago the dog, because he lived there, I became friends with so many dogs during my years traveling to Tobago. Here's a picture of one that I bonded with during one trip. It was my birthday. I usually went to Tobago for my birthday, as was tradition. I was sitting on the back porch crying (as I often did during these trips) and this dog just popped up over the back steps and laid down in front of me. He walked on the beach with me every day after that, and we became rather attached. We ended up helping his owners out for a couple of years, buying food for the dog and stuff like that. I doubt he is still alive, but I like to think he was sent to me, like an angel, by the birthday angels.
|My canine 50th birthday present. Sent to me by angels.|
|Decades later! Gil and me in Tobago on my 50th birthday. It poured rain all week, but I didn't care.|
Do you have a favorite photograph of yourself? What is it about that picture that you like?
Tell me in the comments, or share it with me on Facebook.
One of the things we used to do in Tobago was read books. We would "race" each other to see who could read a book the fastest. He always won, but not by much! We could read about a book a day.