Finally the big day! Get yourself settled and ensure all children or offendables are put away (lots of people in very skimpy clothing coming up…)
I jumped out of bed at 4:30, gave myself a tentative shake, and breathed a sigh of relief at being able to move everything painlessly after yesterday’s crazy dancing and jumping exertions. I set the coffee machine, showered, and started on the makeup (like Monday’s, but more jewels and more layers of color and sunblock). I tried to apply some false eyelashes, like all the cool girls wear, but the glue started to sting and burn on my lashline so I had to wipe it all off and forgo the falsies for big mascara. Lesson: Do not attempt to play with serious chemicals near your eyes on Carnival Tuesday (at least practice withstanding the burn).
After I did myself up, we rushed to take a couple of pre-party, pristine costume shots:
Then we jumped in the car and headed off to pick up a friend and meet the band. Did I mention we left the house at 6:30 am?? Rise and shine, peeps, rise and shine…
Once we arrived in Port of Spain, we found parking near what we assumed would be the end of the band’s parade route and quickly found the band, who were out in full glory and enjoying breakfast to the sounds of some sweet pan:
The Ruby of Mumbai prepared by hitting up the breakfast truck for some doubles:
After breakfast (at around 8:00 am) they started to line us up in our sections, by costume, to await the crossing of the Savannah “stage”/judging point:
At this point we got all excited, and waited, and got more excited, and waited, and inched our way up the road, and waited, and waited some more:
At around 10:30, we finally reached the Savannah “stage”, which is not really a stage but rather a spot on the Savannah where bleachers are set up and judges look at costumes and evaluate the band’s portrayal of their theme and general enthusiasm/craziness. I was thirsty as could be (and it was definitely beer o’clock with no drinks truck nearby) but the energy of the 2,500-strong band, the crowd, the cameras, and the setting were enough to get the adrenaline pumping and get me jumping, dancing, and waving myself all across the stage, and boy did I have myself a time for those brief five minutes!
There were TV and media cameras EVERYWHERE and you best believe this girl got as much camera action as she could snag, waving her feathers (both the literal and figurative) with pretty wining for all and sundry to record. It was BEYOND fun, especially when tourists and spectators would ask for pictures with us in our glory (I think half of China may have had their picture taken with me).
Of course I was too busy doing my thang to take snaps as I went along, but I did catch some of the aftermath:
After which we mobbed the drinks truck for some refreshment before continuing on our merry way along the Savannah for an hour or two:
And wound our way to the lunch spot for the day.
Because I was so damn intent on getting my picture taken in front of Pollo Tropical, the tasty Puerto Rican food chain that just opened on the Savannah:
And stopped to get near the cooler zone (where they whoosh cold air around you) and to remove an big errant bra bead that somehow landed inside my boot, we got caught in the lunch mob trying to file into the QRC grounds and it took a while to get lunch and find seats on the bleachers (which were definitely not as nice as Monday’s seats). I had just enough time to get lunch, give my feet an airing, take my headpiece off for a bit (oooh, relief), hit the bathroom and reapply sunblock before we headed out again.
Once we did, it was around 1 pm, and the streets were blazing hot, but the drinks truck kept my water and beer flowing and the party REALLY kicked off:
Just before reaching Ariapita Ave. (where there would be masses of spectators and my favorite part of the route) the band staff gave us some much needed energy popsicles to gear us up. Duly sugared, we hit Ariapita, feathers a-wavin’ and tails a-shakin’:
There were tons of spectators and picture-snappers, so I pranced and posed my heart out with all the other divas on the road:
And did the generous diva thing by giving away bracelets and one of the feathered armbands I made to the cheering and admiring little girls/future-divas-to-be:
After that we headed back to downtown for more carousing and the final part of the route. More drinks, more crazy dancing, plus a snack of aloo pies to keep us happy and energized:
As the day wore on, lots of headpieces came off as they succumbed to wind and wining. Still, some of us managed to hang in there:
I am happy to report that my headpiece stayed on for the whole route, and that this girl danced from the second lunch ended until the day was done. I might be a Ruby of Mumbai, but I’m also an Energizer Booty!
I took a bit of a fall at the end, when a girl in costume rushed past me and knocked me over, but thankfully I just got a few light scrapes and bruising–and the snacks truck delivered a final snack of Doritos to me right after and that was enough to distract me.
As we marched back to the car (which was really close this time–kudos to Mr. Laura for a stellar parking job!), I started to feel a bit teary-eyed at the thought of it ending. I have looked forward to this ALL YEAR, and even since before last Carnival. However, it confirms the fact that I am a Carnival addict, and like all the other addicts I will patiently wait for the madness to start up again for Carnival 2011.
Yesterday, I tallied up the damage to the costume and counted my lucky stars that I had not worn any of it on Monday, given the state of it after Tuesday’s fun-having. Here is the bra before:
The belt before:
The headpiece, before:
I also tallied up the bruises and scratches on me, which were at their worst on my wrists and neck (where the sweat and sunblock reacted with the cheap scratchy jewelry to give me some nasty-looking cuts and burns):
Oh yeah–and I can barely walk from all the dancing. I don’t think I have any hip flexors left.
But was it worth it? Absolutely.
I am not being hyperbolic or facetious in saying that Carnival really changed me. I never thought I’d have so much fun in the short span of two days, that I had so much energy and adrenaline in me, or that I’d have the confidence to wear next to nothing for all and sundry to see while dancing in ways I never thought I would and taking part in what must surely be the largest street party on earth. I will eat spaghetti and cans of tuna to afford this next year. Because there is a next year, and a year after, and every year after that, as long as I can shake it and there are flights to Trinidad.