Separated by only eleven miles from Venezuela on the South American continent, the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago offers amazing diversity of eco-systems and cultures. From our base at the Asa Wright Nature Center situated on slopes of the Northern Range in Trinidad, we will study the wildlife of tropical rainforests, mangrove forests, and freshwater swamps. Day trips from Asa Wright will take us along the Northern Range to the east.Expert naturalist guides will explain all that we see and hear in these exotic locations. At the end of each day at Asa Wright, we will feast family-style at huge oak tables. After our four night stay at Asa Wright, we head southeast for three nights in and around Trinidad's vibrant capital city Port of Spain to study the unique blend of British, African, East Indian, and Spanish influences on these islands. In Port of Spain we will be immersed in a culture with many contrasts to our own.
On Saturday, January 8, we'll leave the Nature Center and check in at our lodging in Port of Spain. We'll stay in a large private home in single, double, and triple rooms and eat meals prepared by Trinidadian cooks. During our stay, our group will have exclusive use of vans and drivers to shuttle us to our various destinations. Our lodge is adjacent to a large Hilton Hotel with a restaurant, pool, and showers. After a lunch showcasing the local specialty foods and some free time, we'll take our charters vans at 4pm to the Caroni Swamp for a boatride into the estuary. At sunset we'll watch the spectacular arrival of hundreds of Scarlet Ibis that roost overnight in the trees. On the way back into town, dinner* will be at Woodford Cafe where the staff will tell us about the dishes we're enjoying. And then, on to the Pan Yards where steel drum bands gather to practice for the upcoming Carnival competitions. The entry price is covered in the course fee. The musicians play deep into the night and we intend to enjoy this lively scene.
On Sunday, January 9, we'll have breakfast at the lodge and then head out for snorkeling and a beach walk lead by a marine biologist. After lunch*, we'll have some free time in the afternoon before dinner*. Then, we'll bus to the Calypso Tents to watch calypso dancers prepare for their competitions. This should be a colorful ocassion as well that will provide many challenges for photographers.
After breakfast at the lodge on Monday, a local guide will take us on a tour of Port of Spain. We'll see the churches, Parliment House, and local vendors sellling handicrafts. After lunch* in late afternoon, you'll have some free time to catch up on your writing and repack for the Venezuela portion of the trip. Since we'll have use of the shuttles, we could organize an optional excursion to visit the shops where motorized costumes are constructed for the Carnival.
After breakfast at the lodge on Tuesday morning, we'll leave at 6:15am for the airport and our 9:30 am flight to Caracas.
After 8 days in Trinidad, we travel by jet to Caracas and then bus to Hato El Frio, an expansive cattle ranch that has recently been converted into a biological field station in the llanos region of the Orinoco River basin in western Venezeula. Our visit during the dry season assures that wildlife will be abundant around the watering holes that remain from the receeding floods of the rainy season. From the ranch house, we travel by truck and four-wheel drive vehicles across the expansive landscape to these watering holes to view a spectacular diversity of wildlife: cayman, capybara, anacondas, iguanas, howler monkeys, a prehistoric bird called the hoatzin, and more. We will fish for piranhas. During our stay in the llanos, we will be part of a unique cultural environment similar in many ways to the old North American West. Cowboys still roam the vast plains of Venezuela and gather at night to sing and play the traditional llanero music.
From Hato El Frio in in the llanos, we will bust to Hato El Burro south of Puerto Ordaz. From our base at the cattle ranch, we will venture out into the Great Savannah and the strange world of the tepuis-high, rugged flat topped mountians found only in this part of Venezeula and a small area of Africa.
Other forays into the Great Savannah will take us to villages where indigenous peoples live in harmony with the environment. We will swim through hidden grottos and enjoy waterfalls. During a two day camping trip by motorized dugout canoe up a remote river, we will visit diamond and gold mines and talk with the miners about their life and culture. Camp will be in a small indigenous village on the river. Back at the ranch, there will be time for swimming, horseback riding, and opportunities to investigate the workings of a large cattle ranch.
For the "grand finale" we'll soar into a canyon along Ayuantepuis in our small charter plane and marvel at the spectacular Angel Falls as it drops 979 meters to the savannah below. We will be seeing the highest waterfall in the world!
On January 20th, we leave the cattle ranch behind as we travel by bus to Puerto Ordaz or Cuidad Bolivar and fly to Caracas. We'll spend our last night in Venezuela near the beach outside of Caracas and get to the airport on the morning of the 21st for the flight to Miami via Port of Spain.
This itinerary is subject to change based on a number of factors beyond the control of the instructors.
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Jan. 4-8: Asa Wright Lodge: 868-667-4655. This is message center phone at the lodge. They have stressed that this is for emergencies only. Back up number is Caligo Ventures: 1-800-426-7781.
Jan 8-11: In Port-of-Spain: Boothman Bed and Breakfast, No, 5 First Avenue, Cascade, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Telephone: 868-627-3106. (Again this number is for emergencies only.) Back up number: Pan Caribe Tours: 1-800-525-6896
Jan 11-13: In the llanos we'll be at the Hato el Frio. Telephone 011-58-47-81971.
There are two ways to reach us for emergencies in Venezuela. Perhaps the best way to reach us during the Venezuela portion of the trip is through LUISA COMUZZI in Boca Raton, Florida phone: 561-483-8017 fax: 561-852-3823. Luisa is the mother of Aldo, our travel agent. Alternatively, we may be contacted through Edmondo Comuzzi who is our travel agent's father. He owns a hotel in Maracay and will know how to contact us at Hato el Burro (in southeastern Venezuela near Angel Falls) where there is no phone. Edmondo Comuzzi FAX at Hotel Micotti, Maracay Venezuela 011-58-43-349198 Phone numbers at the Hotel Micotti 011-58-43-349287 011-58-43-348976 Mark: URGENT--WOFFORD GROUP c/o EDMONDO COMUZZI.
Jan 21 overnight: Red Roof Inn, Miami Airport Vicinity: Front desk telephone number 305-871-4221.
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MIA = Miami, POS = Port of Spain, Trinidad, CAR= Caracas, Venezuela, BWIA= British West Indies Airline
Jan 4 MIA to POS BWIA Flt 483 direct depart 4:00 pm , arrive 8:35 pm
Jan 11 POS to CAR BWIA Flt 831 direct depart 9:35 am, arrive 11:10 am
Jan 21 CAR to POS BWIA Flt 832 depart 11:40 am, arrive POS at 1:20 pm, then transfer POS to MIA BWIA Flt 444 depart 4:45 pm, arrive MIA 8:50 pm
Plan to meet no later than 1:30 pm at the BWIA ticket counter on Jan 4 for our flight to POS. International flights require check in at least two hours prior to scheduled departure and since we're traveling as a rather large group, we need to allow extra time for check in.
It should be possible to schedule early morning flights to arrive in MIA on Jan 4 in time to make the connection on BWIA. Remember that getting to and from MIA is at your own expense.
It is essential to provide the instructors with your flight information if you are planning to arrive in MIA by air. We need to know this in case there are any delays or changes so that we can leave messages for each other at the BWIA ticket counter.
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The close proximity of these two nations and the ease of travel between the two permits a great opportunity to make comparisons and study contrasts. These countries share much in common botanically and geologically, yet their geographies are very different and so are their fauna. The islands have have a rich history including colonial periods under Spanish, Dutch, and French rule, slavery, cannibalism, and barrages of immigration that make this nation so culturally interesting. In contrast, the history of Venezuela is dominated by Spanish influences. Today Venezeula is an industrialized nation with an economy based on petroleum export. It is the richness in natural and cultural diversity that beckons the traveler to visit both nations.
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Dr. Nancy Mandlove is very much a part of the Latin American Studies Program at Wofford College. A Professor of Foreign Languages specializing in Spanish, Dr. Mandlove has traveled extensively throughout Latin American and has lead several student groups on educational tours of Venezeula, Costa Rica, Honduras, and many others. Always up for adventure, she has visited many of the sites in Venezuela on our itinerary. In addition, Dr. Mandlove visited Trinidad where she enjoyed the birdwatching and nature studies at the Asa Wright Nature Center.
As Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. G.R. Davis is very interested in the wildlife of Latin America. He, too, has visited the Asa Wright Nature Center and traveled about Trinidad and Tobago, enjoying the birdwatching and wildlife along the tropical shores. His travel experience with students includes two 24 day Interim trips to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. In addition to his interests in all things "biological," he is fascinated by immersion into other cultures and is very excited at the prospect of visiting Venezuela for the first time. You can read some exerpts from his latest journal entries from Ecuador for a sample of what he thinks in interesting. Dr. Davis has taught Photography during the Interim and loves to assist student photographers. He has initiated an On-Line Photography Club at Wofford.
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Dr. Mandlove will be in California Dec. 18 - Jan. 3 at telephone 949-494-2042.
Dr. Davis will be in Spartanburg (864-948-9025) except for Dec. 25 - Dec 27. During that time he can be reached at 910-483-9595 or 910-425-4572.
|Michael Anzelmo||Business Economics|
|Emily Blanton||Intercultural Business|
|Will Hodge||Business Economics|
|Mary Beth Martin||Finance and Spanish|
|Ryan Newton||Spanish and English|
|Matt Slocum||International Business|
|Adrienne Thornton||Spanish and Intercultural Business Studies|
|Erin Veazy||Finance and Accouting|
|Nick White||Biology and Spanish|
Prior to departure, students will read and discuss selected articles pertaining to the natural and cultural histories of our destinations. (Good sources are web links included on this webpage along with the many excellent travel guides.) Working with the instructors, each student will design an individual research project to be undertaken during the trip. Examples of such projects might include
These are but a few of the possibilities and are meant to stimulate creativity. In the spirit of the Interim, the intent is for each student to generate a set of academic goals and a stragegy to meet those goals. Students will submit a plan for their project including topic, design, and method of implementation prior to departure. Each plan will be discussed with the instructors for approval.
Students are expected to participate in all meetings and activites prior to and during the travel. Upon return to the U.S., students should have ample time to complete their projects and prepare them for submission to the instructors.
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Each student must submit a typed course proposal that includes each of these sections:
The instructors expect the final document to be submitted in typed form (or ideally, HTML format.) Conversion of notes and journal entries made during the travel portion of the trip to electronic format during the last week of the Interim provides an opportunity for reflection, review, revision, and replication of multiple copies. Admittedly time consuming, this phase of the work assures that each student will produce something of lasting significance. Although not essential, it would be particularly gratifiying to be able to share your experience on the World Wide Web.
Grading will be Honors, Pass, or Fail.
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Be ready to take a quiz based on these questions when you submit your Course Proposals on December 1. You shouldn't leave the US if you can't answer these basic questions. You can find all the answers by consulting travel guides and/or websites listed below..
1. What is the official language of Trinidad and Tobago?
2. What is the official language of Venezuela?
3. What are the currencies and rates of exchange in the two countries?
4. What are the geographical features of Trinidad? of the llanos? of eastern Venezuela?
5. What are the main exports of the two countries?
6. Be able to identify on an outline map Trinidad, Tobago, Caracas, Port of Spain, the region of Angel Falls, the Orinoco River, and the llanos.
7. What are the most prevalent ethnic groups and religions in each country?
8. What types of governments are found in each country?
9. Which foreign nations have had the greatest influence on each country?
10. What species of mammals are we hoping to see that are not naturally found in the U.S.?
Trinidad and Tobago http://info.lanic.utexas.edu/la/cb/tt/
Venezuela http://info.lanic.utexas.edu/la/venezuela/ (has many links in Spanish--but also some very good ones in English.)
Trinidad and Tobago http://discovertrinidad.com
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A Neotropical Companion by John Kricher (second edition 1997) would be great to take along on this trip. This book is an introduction to the animals, plants, and ecosystems of the New World tropics. It is the most comprehensive and compact source of information on this topic and is particularly recommended to anyone with an interest in biology. It is available from Amazon.com for $15.16 plus shipping.
Lonely Planet (LP) publishes an excellent series of travel guides for many countries including Venezuela. Practially everything one needs to know to prepare for and visit a country is included in the LP guidebook. In addition to descriptions and suggestions for all the standard tourist sites, The Lonely Planet series points out many attractions and events that are off the beaten path and provides accurate detailed specifics on many aspects of the culture and locales. The 2nd Edition LP Guide to Venezuela is well worth the $19.95 you'd pay at any bookstore with a decent travel section. Or, you can order on-line directly from the Lonely Planet Website. Also on the LP website , you can view several interesting photographs made in Venezeula by the author of the guidebook. On cable TV, keep an eye on the Travel Channel which occasionally airs a fascinating one hour Lonely Planet travel tour of Venezuela. Apparently, LP hasn't published a guidebook for Trinidad & Tobago.
Insight Guides publishes travel guides so thorough that theirs can be used as textbooks for a particular country. Insight Guides have expansive sections on history, politics, and economics as well as outstanding photography. Culture and crafts are also emphasized. Insight Guides are available for Trinidad and Tobago (Latest edition is 1996) and Venezuela. Priced at about $22.95, these are highly recommended, and available at bookstores with good travel sections.
Perhaps the most condensed information for Trinidad and Tobago is found on p. 870-920 in Carribean Islands Handbook, a 10th edition guide book by Sarah Cameron. This is a Footprint Handbook /Passport Books publication that sells for $24.95.
Fodor's also publishes travel guides. Fodor's also maintains websites for Trinidad and Tobago and for Caracas, Venezuela.
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An excellent source of reliable travel information is provided by the US State Department "Background Notes." These notes concisely summarize the geography, people, population, government, economy, foreign relations, history, and political conditions for every nation. Have a look at the site for Trinidad & Tobago and also for Venezuela.
Consular Information Sheets published by the State Department provide information on entry requirements, medical facilities, crime, traffic safety & road conditions, aviation, and embassy locations. Check these Information Sheets for Venezuela and Trinidad & Tobago. These are generally considered safe places for US citizens to travel, although flooding north of Caracas has severely disrupted conditions along the northern coast, and even disrupted service at the international airport for several days. While we will enter and leave Venezuela via the Caracas International Airport, our travel agents have arranged for us to get in and out of Caracas very quickly.
Is is safe to travel in Trinidad & Tobago? There are no State Department warnings for Trinidad and Tobago other that the usual petty thievery alerts. We will be traveling as a group and will be staying in a very secure place (the Asa Wright Nature Center).
Is it safe to travel in Venezuela? Normally, there are two areas of concern when traveling in Venezuela: travel in the major cities including the capital Caracas, and the area along the border with Columbia. We will not be visiting any urban areas and will be staying on two large ranches so security should not be a problem. In the past, there has been some Columbian guerilla activity in the state of Apure which we do plan to visit, but we will be staying at a well known biological station known for ecotourism that is considerably north of the border. We will always be in the company of local, knowledgeable guides. Dr. Mandlove has traveled in this area three times (twice with students) and there have been no problems of any kind.
During December 1999, there were extensive floods and mudslides north of Caracas in a region between the mountains and the coast which has disrupted services in that area. However, normal operations have resumed at the Caracas International Airport which is located in that region. Our travel agents are confident that we can enter Venezeula safely on January 11 and complete our travel project according to our original plans.
A State Departement bulletin was issued for Venezuela on December 22 in regards to the flooding and mudslides north of Caracas (see Travel Warnings.)
The organizers of the travel trip are cognizant of safety and security issues and will not knowingly endanger themselves or students by traveling to dangerous regions.
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A minor concern for those traveling to regions where water quality is not always reliable is Traveler's Diarrhea. Information on Food and Water Precautions and Travelers' Diarrhea is available from The Center for Disease Control.
Depending on the international destination, various immunizations may be recommended. None are required for travel to Venezeula or Trinidad and Tobago but several are recommended by the Center for Disease Control. The recommended immunizations for Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago are listed together with tips for staying healthy. You'll discover that only rather ordinary immunzations are suggested: Hepatitis A and B, Rabies, Yellow Fever, and Typhoid. Should you decide to receive any or all of these injections, they can be obtained from the Spartanburg County Health Department by appointment (596-3337) on Wednesdays or from your family doctor. Be advised that some immununizations require some time to become fully effective so plan to get your shots as early as possible.
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International flights and the Trinidad-Tobago segment of the travel study will be arranged by Mac Shealy, Jr., President of World Adventure Tours and Travel (843-795-7669) headquarted in Charleston, SC. Mr. Shealy has vast experience arrranging and leading educational travel trips emphasizing biology for students of all ages. Last year, he arranged the travel details for Dr. George Shiflet's Travel Interim to Hawaii and accompanied Dr. Shiflet on that trip. Mr. Shealy is very attentive to all details concerning travel. He will be traveling with our group for the Trinidad portion of the trip.
Within Venezeula, travel arrangements will be made by Aldo Comuzzi, a Wofford alumnus and resident of Venezuela, who has previously organized several travel interims with Dr. Mandlove. Aldo is associated with one of the ranches where we will stay and is experienced at arranging travel for groups in Venezeula.
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Since our plans call for us to begin travel several days after the new year, we do not anticipate transportation problems to be any worse than the usual delays associated with flights to Latin American countries. Newpaper articles have indicated that Venezuela has not made as much progress toward anticipating Y2K problems as have other developed countries. However, most of our time will be in rural areas where the impact of any computer-related problems should be minimal.
You might ask "Why not schedule the trip later to avoid potential Y2K problems?" The answer is linked to the availibility of the Asa Wright Nature Center which is one of the most popular destinations in the world for nature-lovers and particularly birdwatchers. All reservations for the AWNC are handled through a single agency and the demand for space is very high, particularly in January. Because of the intense interest in this locale, reservations often must be secured several years in advance, which is exactly the strategy that our travel agent used to get us a booking. The only days available were the days we have reserved, which necessitates our leaving shortly after the New Millenium begins.
What if Y2K problems become realities? There is some comfort knowing that our group will not be the only international travelers during this time so we will not be alone if there are difficulties. However, our travel agents have vast experience. The instructors have every confidence that if alternative arrangements become necessary, they will be made as expediciously as possible. In fact, under normal conditions, air transportation is not nearly so reliable in Latin American countries as we are accustomed to in the US. Realistically, it has been the experience of the instructors that it would be unusual if all transportation links were accomplished without a glitch. This is just part of the cultural experience to which travelers must adjust and often times provides unanticipated opportunities for adventure.
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Originally, the instructors estimated the course fee to be $3500. However, in the six months between when the project was submitted to the Interim Committee and the finalization of the cost estimates by our travel agents, the cost of the trip has increased by $200 (an increase of 6% over the original estimate.) Our travel agents have organized a spectacular experience and have been cost-conscious throughout. In order to keep the cost at the original estimate, it would have been necessary to eliminate some significant portion of the trip (such as the Angel Falls aerial tour), which we were very reluctanct to do. We regret any inconvenience this additional cost may impose. Any funds remaining after the completion of the Interim will be refunded to the participants. The revised schedule for payment of course fees is found below.
Because of the exclusivity and high demand for the Asa Wright Nature Center in Trinidad, that portion of the trip is unavoidably expensive. Given that Trinidad and Tobago are popular tourist destinations, the cost of traveling there is moderate. Accomodations at the ranches in Venezeula are not inexpensive. Unlike some South American countries with depressed economies where tourists can live very cheaply, Venezeuala is a relatively modern country and prices are very similar to those in the U.S.
The course fee of $3700 covers
Not included in the course fee is spending money for
Depending one's appetite, thirst, and penchant for souveniers, one could probably spend as little as $200 out of pocket on this trip.
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$1000 or $1200
$200 for those who paid $1000 on Dec. 1
Passports are required for travel to and from Trinidad and Venezeula. The instuctors will need to make a list of all travelers with passport numbers and passport expiration dates. We will also need a photocopy of each passport.
Check the expiration date to make sure that the passport will be valid throughout the duration of our travel. Please bring your passport to Dr. Davis' office so that a photocopy can be made and the passport number and expiration date can be recorded.
Getting a passport is not complicated, but does require 4-6 weeks for processing. Passport applications can be obtained from the Passport Office in the Main Post Office at the intersection of Church Street and Henry Street in downtown Spartanburg. The Passport Office is open 8am-4pm Monday through Friday, and 8am-1pm Saturday. To complete and submit the application, you will need
Passport Photos can be made at
A Warning: Some people have experienced delays in getting their passports because their birth certificate did not meet specifications. It may be necessary to order a notarized copy of the birth certificate before the application can be processed. This situation commonly adds several weeks to the processing time, so the bottom line is to apply for your passport as soon as possible. You will not be allowed to travel without a valid passport.
As soon as you receive your passport, notify Dr. Davis so that he can record your passport number and the expiration date.
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The following descriptions are reproduced by permission from Caligo Travel brochures.
The Asa Wright Nature Centre is nearly 500 acres covered with tropical plants, trees, and multihued flowers, and the surrounding acreage is atwitter with more than 170 species of birds, from the gorgeous blue-green motmot to the rare, nocturnal oilbird. The oilbirds' breeding grounds in Dunston Cave are included in the center's guided hikes. When we're not hiking, we can relax on the inn's veranda and watch birds swoop about the porch feeders--an armchair bird-watcher's nirvana. This stunning plantation house looks out to the lush, untouched Arima Valley.
Awaken on your first morning to the raucous noise of the Crested Oropendola and a host of other exotic sounds including the anvil-like chorus of the Bearded Bellbird. Birding from the veranda of the Lodge a first-time visitor to the tropics will likely see 25 to 30 new species before breakfast! Your observations will likely include Channel-billed Toucan, Chestnut Woodpecker, Bay-headed, and Silver-billed Tanagers, along with Tufted Coquette, Barred Antshrike and Green Honeycreeper. Our stay in Trinidad will include exploring the rain-forested slopes of the Northern Range searching for Swallow-tailed Kite, Ornate Hawk-eagle, and Bat Falcon. You can also examine the fascinating world of leaf-cutter and army ants and take photographs of orchids and gorgeous butterflies. Trips to coastal areas of the island will provide us with tidepool and mangrove habitats to explore. Here we will likely encounter Pinneated Bittern, Azure Gallinule, Wattled Jacana, Green Kingfisher and possibly Red-bellied Macaw. Lowland forest and grassland habitats will provide looks at Red-breasted Blackbird, Southern Lapwing, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Green-rumped Parrotlets, and Squirrel Cuckoo. Two highights of the Trinidad portion of this tour include visiting the beautiful riparian grotto located at the Centre to view the breeding colony of the fascinating nocturnal Oilbird; and a visit to the famous Caroni Marsh, a very specialized mangrove forest that provides a classic example of plant adaptation in this brackish water community. The Caroni is home to Striated Heron, White-cheeked Pintail, Pied Water-tyrant and Red-capped Cardinal. This large swamp with mazelike waterways is bordered by mangrove trees, some plumed with huge termite nests. In the middle of the sanctuary are several islets that are home to Trinidad's national bird, the scarlet ibis. Just before sunset the ibis arrive by the thousands, their richly colored feathers brilliant in the gathering dusk, and, as more flocks alight, they turn their little tufts of land into bright Christmas trees. Bring a sweater, insect repellent, and a pair of binoculars which may not even be necessary!
The Asa Wright Nature Center Web Page describes the center and links to photos and descriptions of birds we're likely to see in the vicinity.
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General Tips for Traveling Abroad
Bureau of Consular Affairs (US State Department Home Page for Travel Advisories.)
Tips for Student Travelers from the Bureau of Consular Affairs
Official Site for the Government of Trinidad and Tobago
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