AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Randy Denoon and I am a rainforest tour guide, more based on flora and fauna, in Tobago.
I’m from Speyside. My wife is Stephanie Denoon. I have a son, which his name is Rayon Denoon.
Rayon is ten and the baby, which his name is Rodney Denoon, he is about two years.
I come from a family of seven. A good-sized family for Tobago.
I loved Speyside High School. I loved maths best. I get an A-plus.
I went to school to study a lot about flora and fauna. These are things I did on my own.
I have been to Trinidad, but not for work purpose, just for shopping and stuff. I go very often.
I like going to Trinidad.
In the earlies, I took part in Carnival, but now I study more about working than Carnival.
What made me interested to become a tour guide was flora and fauna.
In the beginning, I didn’t know anything about birds. While doing tours, this guy, Newton George, he inspired me to start looking at flora and fauna. I start going on tours with him in, like, 2000. I have approximately about 20 years’ experience.
As kids growing up, Newton was going up the island and stuff, and Newton had a spotting-scope.
I didn’t have a spotting-scope but, while going with Newton, he used to allow me use his spotting-scope. He would show me birds and stuff. I used to be pointing out the birds for him, when he had his guests.
Because after, when I get good, he was leaving me to show the guests some of the skill and abilities I had.
I was approximately around 14 years then. This was back when I was still at school.
There was this school that came from the Tobago House of Assembly to the village to teach about tour-guiding. Which allowed people to learn a lot about their island and they were giving you a certificate of tour-guiding and stuff.
There were approximately just about six of us in Sir William Trim tour-guiding class.
Two dropped out and I just followed it up. I was, like, one of the best student in the class.
We did an exam and I passed the exam, so they give us a certificate and, after the certificate, you have to go through another process to get a licence now.
You have to go to court, to the police station to get a good character and stuff. They give you about two weeks before they give you back your record. And then you take it to a JP. And then you have to stand up before a magistrate, which he will ask you question, then they will ask a prosecutor if there is anything known against you. And the prosecutor said, No, there is nothing known against me, because of my files.
Then I paid approximately about $20 to get the licence, laminated and stuff.
So when you meet an official tour guide, you can trust them.
The bird-watching rainforest tour lasts approximately about four to five hours.
I take them on a trail on the Main Ridge going back to Bloody Bay, where the rainforest is located.
There is many different trails there, with different names. Like Spring Trail, Blue Copper Trail. The most popular is Gilpin Trail but a big volume of people do go into Spring Trail. There is a spring in Spring Trail but we don’t really go to it. You can see lots of different things while walking, air plants, trapdoor spiders, lots of forests birds. I point out all the flora and fauna, the landscaping, lots of different things.
The majority of what I know, I studied on my own, because of seeing different things and wanting to know.
I purchase myself some books about the birds of Trinidad and Tobago by Richard ffrench and Martyn Kenefick. I get the majority of what I say from the Richard ffrench but you can learn birds from both books.
I take normally approximately about 15 guests at a time. I try not to talk too loud, ‘cause that helps to run birds.
As long as you respect nature, you have to be cautious.
At the beginning of the trail, I give an introduction, more based on the history, the damages Hurricane Flora did in 1963 and stuff that destroyed the forest.
The key to a rainforest tour is safety. It’s a prime forest and it’s gonna be wet. You have to go inside there with proper shoes because, if you go in with slippers, if it’s wet, you’re gonna fall. These are things we try not to allow because, if you fall, that could cause a lot of problem.
To come out of a rainforest with a broken leg is not easy.
Safety first, bird-watching second!
The best thing about the job is that the people that comes there and the birds. My passion is, I love birds.
So I’m doing a job I would pay to do.
When I go out there, I try to put out my best, in order people to enjoy what they are there to see.
I never really find any bad thing about the job.
I never once in 20 years ever experienced a bad-tempered guest on a rainforest tour. Because it is about how you deal with a guest from the beginning.
If there is a guest with a bad temper, they teach you how to deal with that in tour-guiding school: you stay in your lane, that they will be able to listen to you. You never answer back. So that it will never cause more problem.
But people who want to go in a rainforest, you don’t get a lot of drunk, bad-behaved people doing that.
Trinidadians come on my tours, but not really the rainforest and bird-watching tours.
Because they feel like they see the forests and birds every day for nothing. Even though a guide would give them lovely information and stuff and would be able to identify the birds for local guests to enjoy flora and fauna. Normally, it’s about $300 per person to go into the rainforests but they get their money’s worth from me.
To me, a Tobagonian likes to work hard. And they’re very, very honest.
Trinidad and Tobago mean a lot to me. It’s a very beautiful country. With very beautiful flora and fauna.