Like many of our guests Sue and I originally washed up on Tobago as travellers seeking a place to escape from the world for a while; to relax, rejuvenate our energies, and reconnect with the simple things in life. We were enchanted by Tobago’s raw beauty and laid back fun-loving local people. On discovering Castara we were utterly seduced – this was the place to be!
On our next visit, we met Porridge. He was on the beach, selling red snapper freshly caught in the fish traps he pulled in each week with his friend Sherwin. After buying fish for a couple of days, we started to get to know one another, and we invited Porridge and Sherwin over for dinner. Dining on the fresh fish and a few Caribs, our friendship was born, and it’s a friendship that continues to this day.
I began to dream of creating somewhere that embraced life’s simple luxuries and celebrated the gorgeous surroundings. When Porridge told us of a piece of land up above the Bay, we scrambled up the hill but initially couldn’t see a thing for bamboo. Porridge got out his machete and hacked through the bush, revealing to us the spectacular views that can be enjoyed today. We shook hands with the seller there and then, and haven’t looked back.
Porridge and Sherwin asked if they could build the house, and we were delighted to offer them and their team of local builders and tradesmen the job. We were conscious that Castara Retreats would adjoin the village and we did not want it to out of scale, so we opted for a simple wooden structure and a green roof. This is the genesis of our Tobago adventure and from this we have gradually evolved into Castara Retreats as it is today.
Over the years, more of Porridge and Jeanell’s family joined the team –his mum Ovita, sister Hermin, niece Keisha and daughter Derricia, almost all of whom continue to work with us today. Mine and Sue’s kids and grandkids visit Tobago as often as they can, and our daughter Lorna now works with us too. Soon Porridge said, ‘we are one family now’, and we feel privileged to be described as so.
For many, Castara is Paradise. Locals see it that way too, and invite us to enjoy it with them. They are also fiercely protective of their local ways of doing things. I’ve learned a lot from them; about “living in the moment” without the need of Mindfulness Workshops to teach themselves how. Their go with the flow approach is hugely appealing, and many, like ourselves, experience something special when in Castara.
We warmly invite you to come and taste some of what we have enjoyed. Castara, unlike the developed parts of the Caribbean, still offers a local Caribbean experience. Local people are generous with their time; they love limin’ and will hang out with just about anyone who is friendly and respects their culture. They are rather good at being happy and many visitors find that this rubs off on them too.