Spreading south from the flanks of the Northern Range, the East–West Corridor is a sprawling conurbation between Trinidad’s east and west coasts, its numerous communities so close together it’s hard to tell where one tails off and another begins. Its whole length is traversed by three separate roads running parallel: the first, the traffic-clogged Eastern Main Road (EMR) is lined with shops, businesses, restaurants and rum bars for almost its entire distance; people partially avoid the rush by taking the second road, the Priority Bus Route – a fast-track thoroughfare for public transport just south of the EMR, built where the now-obsolete train tracks were once in service; the third is the multi-lane Churchill Roosevelt Highway a kilometre or so to the south. The highway has encouraged major development in the form of three large shopping malls, signposted along its route, while it’s also the access point for Piarco International Airport.
Frenetic, hot and dusty as it is, the East–West Corridor does have sights worth seeing. The EMR is the gateway to the old Spanish capital of St Joseph, where elegant colonial edifices sit incongruously with a more recent rash of concrete. The Mount St Benedict Monastery dominates the hillside eastwards, providing panoramic views of the Caroni Plains, superlative birdwatching, and a restful spot for afternoon tea. Heading north into the mountains, a series of access roads to Maracas, Caura, Lopinot and Guanapo all lead to off-the-beaten-path waterfalls, river swimming and hiking. And the grinding pace of traffic along the EMR itself at least allows you to absorb the commercial chaos outside of the capital. The road buzzes with life – shoppers dodging delivery trucks throng the pavements and vendors fill the air with the sweet aroma of street food.
In terms of accommodation, much of the area can be visited on day-trips from the capital, though there is a stand-out guesthouse at Mount St Benedict and a couple of options in Arima that are conveniently close to the airport and other sights such as the Asa Wright Nature Centre and mountain waterfalls.