Top local tour guide William Trim, 61, who recently retired as the head of the Tobago forestry division, still has an insatiable passion for more knowledge. Unless conducting a tour or lecturing would-be tour guides, Trim can be found almost three times a week at the Scarborough Library doing research and preparing for his classes.
The Delaford-born Trim has been a tour guide for almost three decades and was chosen by the Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd (TTAL), in July, to accompany a National Geographic Travellers crew on a tour of Tobago for a project.
Boasting tour guiding certificates from the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme, TT Hospitality Institute and Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Trim also studied dendrology (the scientific study of trees) in Costa Rica and has a wealth of knowledge from working in the forestry division for 30 years.
Now residing in Louis D'Or, Trim is well equipped to open the portal of Tobago's natural treasures to nature seekers.
With over 1,200 tours under his belt, Trim said he still enjoys the thrill of each tour as there is always something that was missed previously.
"I don't think I've ever had a monotonous tour. One of the reasons for that is because we are an island that is tropical and was connected to South America; our biodiversity, in terms of ecosystem and species, is quite rich and therefore whenever one goes on a tour, most of the time there is something new or different, something that was gone unnoticed."
Trim described a his recent tour with National Geographic as "quite revealing" as their equipment was so advanced they were able to capture images of things not easily visible to the naked eye.
He said he thoroughly enjoys engaging clients knowledgeable about flora and fauna and recalled one tour he did with a Puerto Rican scientist who provided him with some constructive criticism.
"Once, in my earlier tours, I took a researcher – a scientist – from Puerto Rico to the rainforest and he wasn't interested in the general things like the birds and the water – he was quite familiar with that. His particular interest was the names of the plants, the trees, the shrubs, the herbs.
"Unfortunately, I was referring to most of the plants by their common name because I didn't ask him what was his level of education, and in tour guiding the standard is to refer to the plants by their scientific name, unless you ask them what they prefer or they tell you what they prefer.
"After that tour, he said, 'William, you did very well, however you must remember when you're doing a tour of plants it is the scientific name you ought to use.'
"I did appreciate that and that was the spurring factor for me to go an study dendrology, which is the study of the classification of plants, in Costa Rica and I have no regrets on that."
Trim said he tries to achieve certain targets in each tour as part of the island's tourism thrust.
"Well, with the visitors there are some essential things: the most critical things is you want to satisfy your guest, customer, clientèle, participants in terms of the tourism product. The tourism product of our destination said you should facilitate them having a memorable tour and help them have what tourism would call the 'wow effect.'"
Asked whether Tobagonians appreciate nature sufficiently, Trim believes the younger generation needs to become more cognisant of the beauty in their surroundings.
"Generally, yes, but with the children there is a shortcoming. What I've found is children they are not aware of much of the happenings in nature but when you take them out they are awed and bewildered by the things you might bring to their attention. They enjoy it but they are unaware of some of these wonders in nature.
"There needs to be some more educational programmes, working with clubs, schools, working with their parents, who could draw their attention to some of these fascinating things around them."
Asked what part of Tobago he prefers to explore with clients, Trim cited the Main Ridge Forest Reserve as a keen place of interest.
"Most of my tours are about plants and birds and history...Sightseeing would involve history, birds and plants and some of the other things about nature. My best part of Tobago is sightseeing in high elevation areas, for instance up at the Main Ridge Forest Reserve, Speyside lookout, Fort King George. It may also mean moving through the villages also."
Trim said he enjoys teaching the art of tour guiding to participants under a tutelage programme organised by the Division of Tourism, Culture and Transportation. He is currently in charge of a class of 13 and has taught well over 100 so far.