|My chosen section - War Chant - |
from the band, Tribe
Photo credit: Tribe Carnival
That is how we here in Trinidad and Tobago refer to our annual festival of freedom, fun,creativity and bacchanal - our Carnival. For some, it is merely a long weekend to jet off to another country or spend time with the family in a less chaotic environment. For others, it is the be all and end all of life. A season to express themselves in any which way - to release, to celebrate, to party, to embellish.
I have always been one of the former - the "it's a long weekend" type. The parties I would do. No interest in the Monday and Tuesday masquerade, with the exception of J'ouvert. But it was on the bucket list - do it once, get it over with. After putting it off year after year, and recognising that I had torn up quite a few calendars by now, and with all the stars in some sort of eerie alignment, I forked over my hard earned money to experience the festival as others have done for years.
It was not easy. I hemmed and hawed for months, threatening to sell the costume I had made a deposit on. With a death in the family, work frustrations and personal issues, I just did not feel the vibes. But I rallied. Costume collection day came and I took my beautiful costume box home, opened it, examined the various pieces of what was to be my get-up on Carnival Tuesday, showed it to the folks, closed the box, went to sleep. Life went on.
I guess though there is something about the 2 days - that excitement, the frenzy, the "anything goes" aura - but only then, when I stepped on to the asphalt, stepped out in the roasting sunshine, did I start to feel anything remotely close to what everyone else was feeling. It did not matter that I did not have spaghetti sized thighs, or that my 6-pack was missing. Noone really cared. The mission: have fun, enjoy life. And we did.
And when the big day came, to swathe my chocolate body in the brilliant white and gold costume, accessorised by Carnival hair and makeup, amping up the everyday pretty, well, it did not matter that the sun was blazing. It was Carnival. My section - War Chant - was one of the few which really worked well on the road and looked good. No bias intended. I am too new to be biased. I also thought Sioux looked incredible, as did a couple sections in Bliss, which I managed to see between the throngs of people.
So was it all cookies and cream? The good and the bad:
- Tribe was one of the bands carded to bypass the Savannah in favour of the new Socadrome. My thoughts as a first timer? I hate waiting - whether it is 2 hours or 5 hours. I hate waiting in the sun. I had to wait at the Socadrome as well. Tribe itself was the keep back cause it was so big. No room for freeing up yourself once you got on the stage cause there were so many people. Not fun. I know this is the normal thing, but it does not mean I have to like it.
|In the thick of the Tribe10 crowd|
|Waiting at the Socadrome|
- However, Tribers are well cared for. I was never wanting for something to drink, never felt unsafe, was well fed, had access to critical amenities even though I had them on hand in my pouch. Never underestimate the power of wipes and deodorant! One can never have enough!
- The heat. I love the sun. Love the heat. But that Monday and Tuesday heat was different!! I am now an official spokesperson for Blue Waters, Gatorade and Prolyte. And I am a true believer in makeup primer!!
- Trini women. No matter the shape, the size - our women are fearless!! I was somewhat inspired and I renewed my waning commitment to such fearlessness. I mean, you have to be fearless to wear pasties on DD-sized breasts or to wear a spider panty on a rump that is 5 times the size of mine!
- Freedom without limits? While I celebrate everything Carnival and people's right to express themselves, some things were just too much for my senses. The wining on top of the mosque wall, the church wall and the blatant disrespect of children along the road. This one mother in particular had more restraint than I would have had if that was my child. Carnival does not give you the right to be an even bigger asshole than usual.
- Fun with the friends and family. All my relatives who came in from abroad for the Carnival were in the same band. My friends were in the same band. We don't always get to see each other so this was as good as it got.
So would I do it again? I would not NOT do it again. I am glad I did it - blisters and all. I had a great time up until stomach cramps derailed the enjoyment on Tuesday. I have not been transformed into a Carnival baby. Not suffering from Carnival tabanca like quite a few of my friends. It was great. It was magical. I recommend it. But I am looking forward to the rest of the year now, including seeing John Legend in concert for the hundredth time now (super fan!!) and annual vacation - always the highlight of my life. Will think about the next Carnival when the time comes. Cheers to 2014 though.