Whew. I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime since last Friday’s Soca Monarch! No words will ever do justice to the sheer awesomeness of my Carnival experience, but I’ll try my hardest, going slowly and in order.
Which brings us up to….
Carnival Sunday: Jamboree Fete
We hit the Jamboree all-inclusive food and drinks fete in the neighborhood this year, as we did last year, because it was a great time last year and some great acts played. I wore my Carnival fete creation–I draped and folded and pinned and crossed my fingers, and voila, it’s the first dress I’ve ever made without a pattern, woot woot! I was beyond happy with the result:
I chipped (shuffle-wine-dance combo) down the road to warm up for the fete:
We arrived unfashionably early, which meant we could grab a good table in a prime spot before the crowds arrived. I didn’t mind in the least–we amused ourselves quite nicely taking in the thumping beats and gorgeous setting in the park and did our best to get our all-inclusive money’s worth in food and drink (in that order):
After all the food I could handle (including an unpictured plate of fried chicken and fries) we got down to the business of mingling and dancing to the ever-louder music:
The DJ was great and warmed us up to a nice and frenzied pitch for the three musical acts–who NEVER SHOWED. No Bunji Garlin, no Faye-Ann Lyons, no Shurwayne Winchester. Nothing, nada, zilch. Oh well; truly annoying, but at least I got some good Trini food, drinks, dancing, and a mean hangover for my troubles.
Carnival Monday: Hitting the Road and Warming Up for Tuesday
So, about that hangover…. Ach. I woke up feeling like death warmed over and was surprised that my crazy eating (both at the fete and afterwards at home, where I housed toast, eggs, and leftover Indian spinach and sweet potato hash) didn’t soak up the moderate excess (ha!) of alcohol consumed. However, nothing was about to stop me from having a good day so onwards I persevered, downed some oatmeal and ibuprofen, got dolled up:
After which we finally hit the road!
Monday mas is a big party warm-up to Tuesday’s full-costume extravaganza, so it’s more casual in terms of start times; though bands set off at 9 or 10, most people don’t arrive until 11 or so. We arrived in Port of Spain around 11 and set off to find the band, which took off from Charlotte Street downtown at around 9 am. It took us about forty-five minutes to find our band and on the road and we marched the entire parade route, around half of Port of Spain, at a fairly fast clip until, thirsty and grateful, we found them.
Never have I been happier than I was after crossing those security ropes and downing a bottle of water, after which we got our party started.
When we arrived, we took the sights in and got a feel for the setup. The band had three music trucks blaring soca at a million decibels from huge speakers on it, about three bar trucks serving premium mixed drinks, beer, and soft drinks, an express bar that had soft drinks, water and beers, a couple of snack trucks (with chips and the like), a “wee wee truck” (with portapotties on it–damn, I wish I could say I used it just so I could say I peed on a moving truck, but sadly the urge or desperation to do so never struck), plus an ambulance truck.
I was floored by the sheer amount of security personnel, which would make sense later when I found out that the band had about 2,500 masqueraders/participants. There were security personnel who held up ropes to fence the band in as we wound along the streets, security personnel who guided the trucks along the route and ensured that masqueraders were kept safely out of the way of the moving trucks, and a particularly hardcore, very mean looking “extraction team” which consisted of huge men with big batons who pulled out any stormers who dared cross the ropes and join the band/hassle band members/try anything funny in the much-feared extraction team’s presence.
After wining and chipping and dancing for about a couple of hours, we wound our way to the rest area for lunch . The band scored major points for setting up the lunch and rest area at the Queen’s Royal College grounds for lunch and we were most grateful for the shade, chair and tent setup, and beautiful setting of the country’s poshest secondary school:
We quickly found chairs, grabbed lunch from one of the lines, and ate while chatting about the morning’s sights. I had stewed lentils, rice, salad, macaroni pie, and barbecue chicken. It was all very good and very well-organized, so we had plenty of time to rest a bit–and re-bandage any emerging foot blisters, which were beginning to set in. Had I not overcompensated for possible blistering and wound a band-aid around my pinky toe so tightly as to cut off circulation, I might well have been fine, but as it was I ended up giving myself a blister from the bandaid instead. No matter, though–nothing that some beer and adrenaline wouldn’t take care of:
After lunch, we paraded and jumped and wined our way along the rest of the route through Woodbrook and back to downtown. I saw lots of crazy wining, lots of VERY skimpy Monday wear, and an astonishing number of wedgies on girls who did not have the desire–or foresight–to wear tights with their boyshorts, bikinis or thongs. True, the tights might be scratchy and tight and give a muffintop to all but the most toned, but they do shape and firm, prevent wedgies/wardrobe malfunctions, and gave you a strong protective barrier from dust, dirt, sweat, and the advances of uninvited winers.
As the afternoon went on, the mood got more frenzied as we all got to know each other (well, by face or backside mostly!). The band was large enough to feel like a real presence on the road, but not so large that we ever felt crammed or claustrophobic. It was a great vibe in terms of band composition too–not so young to be acting like children out on a first outing, not so old to be disapproving of dancing and drinking, and friendly and ready to get down as a group. The band was very well-organized and we had no problems getting drinks or water; they even sent around staff with popsicles after a few hours in the sun and threw baggies of chips into the crowd a few hours after that to keep energy levels going.
I wish I could give more concrete anecdotes, but I hope you’ll take my word in that I had an awesome time drinking (mostly water–Port of Spain in dry season is hotter than hot hell so way more water than beer was consumed), dancing, and partying with my Spice peeps:
We danced until the truck stopped playing music at around 8:30 or so and then did the loooong walk/drag back to the car, running into some friends and some food on the way:
Your girl got home, showered off the dust and grime, and tried to get some sleep for Tuesday! Thankfully, I was so tired–and SORE–that I fell asleep pretty easily for my 4:30 am wakeup call for Tuesday.
I’ve got to hand over the laptop (and good thing, too, as the internet is being slow as turtles right about now and making uploading pics a real pain) but I’ll be back with the final, biggest, bestest, most photo-y recap of Carnival Tuesday tomorrow…. Stay tuned!