Carnival Days: Carnival Tuesday on de Road!

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:

Pan band providing musical love for the band during breakfast

Nothing like feathers in the 7 am Port of Spain sun

The Ruby of Mumbai prepared by hitting up the breakfast truck for some doubles:

Breakfast doubles truck man, how I heart thee

Look mami! No tamarind sauce on my costume!

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:

Rubies forming an orderly line

Rubies in a less orderly formation, in full sun

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:

Rubies rehearsing their best stage-crossing moves

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:

Rubies getting some air and recapping stage-crossing glory stories

After which we mobbed the drinks truck for some refreshment before continuing on our merry way along the Savannah for an hour or two:

Thirsty masqueraders mobbing the drinks truck

Savannah public/onlookers

Greece, the costume Little A would have worn had she come for Carnival, sniff...

And a friendly masquerader in Merchants of Venice, the costume I ALMOST picked, had it not been for the suspect placement of green feathers down below...

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:

Do they have REAL Cuban black beans? Must find out... but didn't on Tuesday

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:

Need to stop traffic and cross the road? Just wait till people start wining on a car and then go!

Doing my civic duty and wining on a car (for the sake of traffic, of course)

Flags and booties waving--real island representin'

Maybe Mr. Laura can be convinced to wear THIS mas costume next year?

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’:

Enthusiastic winer "throwing waist"

These two looked fresh and happy ALL day long, representing the Adulis/Africa band section

There were tons of spectators and picture-snappers, so I pranced and posed my heart out with all the other divas on the road:

A male Greece individual costume graced me with a pose--I'm in awe of him!

Ladies looking lovely in the China costume

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:

Police SVU weaving through the mob of dancing peeps

I may have wined on the drinks truck....

And I may have wined on the King of Carnival (big platform contraption thing)

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:

China section member representin' after dark

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:

And after:

Dangling beads, broken chain, plenty dirt and grime

The belt before:

And after:

Dangling and missing chains, torn-off beads, raggedy fabric

Boots before:

And after:

Boots, dirty and chain-dangling and beads missing

The headpiece, before:

And after:

Feathers flopping in the wind (because they came unglued in the back)

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):

Cuts and abrasions, yuck

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.

Fantastic Friday Is Here!

No, my friends, that title is not just me being hyperbolic–it’s the actual name of today, in carnival terms!  (For those of you tired of hearing about carnival, a) I’m sorry but I just can’t contain myself! , b) it will be over next Wednesday, when regular subject matter posting will resume, and c) I’m very sad for you and recommend a visit to the doctor.)

Today is the day that the non-stop partying becomes REALLY nonstop.  There are all kinds of fetes (live music parties) going on 24 hours a day until Carnival Monday.  There are parties that start at sunbreak, parties that go all day, and parties that start at 4 or 5 am (to facilitate attendance after you go to a night party), and parties that go straight through the night and provide breakfast before continuing for the rest of the morning. The whole island will be thump, thumping to the sound of live music acts and beats, as it has been pretty much since Wednesday night, but LOUDER.

I can’t waiiiiiit!

My carnival weekend is looking something like this:

Friday night: came home, powernapped, crammed two final hours of work and dinner.  Off to Soca Monarch at 10!  Eat, drink, dance, hopefully not get my camera stolen, and get home at 4 or 5 am.  Collapse on bed (hopefully without attacking the bag of bread as I am wont to do while intoxicated).

Saturday: sleep as late as I can.  Shower, get back in lounging clothes, spend day getting acquainted with my couch avec pillows and book.  Drink orange juice and cover myself in orange pulp and zinc to cure this nagging cold feeling.  Plan on making some soup or pasta sauce for Monday/Tuesday and leave it frozen; nix cooking plan.  Resist the urge to find a Saturday night fete to attend and satiate the fete urge with a single solitary rum and coke at home while wining by myself to music blaring from my computer.

Sunday: Try to go for an early run (to ensure early bedtime in preparation for Carnival Monday–probably won’t happen, but must try). Hit the market for fruits and veg for the week (I’ll need nutrients to counteract vitamin rum).  Nap.  Eat a bit of lunch.  Listen for the sounds of the fete going down in my neighborhood.  Head to fete when it starts to sound really jumping.  Eat all the Trini delicacies I can get my hands on (you know, the ones that got me all pleasantly plump last year–roti, doubles, bake and shark, corn soup, pholourie–the more fried and carby and tongue-burning spicy, the better), try to drink more rum and cokes than I end up spilling, and dance like crazy in ways that will horrify the more genteel neighborhood contingent.  Get home, wash off muddy feet from park fete, collapse in bed.  Try to sleep.

Monday: Carnival Monday!  Bra–check.  Boy shorts–check. Gold sneakers–check.  Bangles, glitter, feathers lite–check.  Sunscreen–check check.  Sense of shame–leave it at home.   Head to Port of Spain early (band takes off from meeting point at 9).  Brief Mr. Laura on wining/being wined upon protocols (one random wine upon my person=OK; persistent winer=you’ll get cuteye from me and him).  Dance all day, eat all day, drink enough to keep merry without giving myself a hangover and watch that Husband does not slip off side of road and sprain his foot a la last year.  Go home, hose off glitter and grit, collapse.  Try to sleep.

Tuesday: Carnival Tuesday!  Wake up two hours before the buttcrack of dawn (band will be meeting at 6:30 in Port of Spain–yikes).  Inhale oatmeal breakfast, toast, etc (as much as I can for rum mop-up in bloodstream).  Decorate myself with glitter and stick-on gems.  Don fabulous costume, down good-luck rum and coke, and prepare to have THE MOST FUN DAY OF MY ENTIRE LIFE EVER.  Think about the people who I wish were here to have fun with me too and have more than a few drinks in their honor.  Cry on the way home at the sadness of it ending (and the thought of the hangover my drinking will invariably cause tomorrow).

Wednesday: Probably be the most tired/hungover/exhausted I have ever been in my life.  Tentatively cut my bangs to cover up the tanline the headpiece will leave on my forehead, despite my careful sunblocking efforts.  Delight in the amazingness of what we’ve done and pat myself on the behind for putting my behind out on the road.  Swear that, despite the cost (having to save up all year and eat canned tuna and not buy clothes and shoes when I could have used them), we are DEFINITELY doing it again next year.  Try not to vomit.

Want more Carnival related blabber?  Check out my previous Carnival related posts:

Two Months and 21 Days Until…

Accomplishment Saturday

Girl About Town

Saturday, In Pictures

The Final Carnival Shopping Trip (Or So I Say Today)

Life Gets In The Way

In Which My Carnival Costume Rules the Day

Glue, Feather, Stitch, Repeat

Costume Prep, Part 1,257

My Carnival photo page from last year

Spice Carnival Band (where I’ll be representin’)

Read up on what the Carnival experts have to say:

Trinidad Carnival Diary: written by Saucy Diva, THE word on all things Carnival

Wining Kriminals:  this man knows his Carnival

Carnival Addicts

Like I said, it’s Fantastic Friday, so I’m out!  Nothing I ate or did today takes precedence over party-time, so no workwear or food posting today, I’m afraid.  I’m dressed and ready to go, wearing this and a good dose of sassiness:

I’ll be back with a full fete report of eating, dancing, naughtiness and wassiness (bad behavior) tomorrrow!

Costume Prep, Part 1,257

Last night I set about making the last big item for my carnival costume.  I had been planning on whipping up a satin pouch for my sunscreen, safety pins, extra glitter, vex money (emergency cash, in Trinispeak), and lip balm, plus a few ibuprofen and a teeny bottle of eyelash glue.  Some people carry mini backpacks on Carnival, and the band actually provides a small and sweet swag bag for this, but no way am I letting anything ruin the look of the outfit.  Hence the idea of the little pack, which I designed with elastic that could be pinned or looped onto my belt–unobtrosive, hands-free, matching.

The finished bag:

The bag I will actually use:  The Man Purse (aka Mr. Laura and his capacious costume pockets).

After stitching and gloating, I went to try it on with my costume.  Major fail.  The decorated chains and beads would tangle up on the bag if I had it hanging from my hip, and there is NO SPACE to hide it or attach it anywhere else.  Bag decoration operation was aborted, and Husband was wheedled into pinning the bag and its contents to his shorts (in addition to stuffing his costume pockets with more stuff, like tiny hand sanitizer and sunblock bottles.)

There’s a saying about playing mas that goes “don’t bring sand to the beach”–or, don’t play mas with your significant other because there will be plenty other people to dance and party with.  Personally, I want to bring a BUCKET of sand to the beach because I want to minimize any unwanted wining upon my person.  And, not only will said bucket of sand (e.g. The Man) provide excellent bodyguard services, it will also serve to carry my necessary goods.

Speaking of which, he’s got a mighty spiffy costume too! Check for yourself. Nice, huh?  Because a Ruby of Mumbai should always have her own personal maharajah at hand.


I feel a bit of a throat itch coming on, so I stayed away from the pool.  I’m not taking any chances on being sick in the next few days.  If that means no running tomorrow, then so be it (though if I do run tomorrow, I might do it with a feather in my headband, just to get in the spirit of things).  My attitude to this potential possible sickness?

Apart from taking vitamin C, I also fought off any possible impending sniffles with bright clothes and shoes:

Scrambled eggs and guava toast:

Mediterranean chickpea salad and broccoli soup for lunch:

And pasta with tomato sauce and grilled garlicky eggplant:

A good night’s sleep is in order because my Carnival officially starts tomorrow night at 10 pm–I’m going to a little fete called International Soca Monarch, which is only the biggest fete of the season because all the soca acts play their top songs and compete for awards.  Come four am I hope to be getting down with Faye-Ann Lyons as she hopefully retains her Power Soca, Groovy Soca, and International Soca Monarch titles–all of which this goddess of groove won and performed for last year one week before having a baby. BIG ups.  I can only aspire…

Night y’all!