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With Carnival Wednesday (the Wednesday before Carnival) already upon us here in sunny Trinidad and Tobago and the counting down to Carnival on the road ticking away, I thought it would be fitting for me to give everyone a crash course in Trinidad Carnival 101… AKA The Professional Soca Lover’s Guide To Enjoying Carnival … AKA Carnival Made Simple… OR, as I prefer to call it “Carnival Etiquette For Dummies”. This is only the first installment in what is sure to be a fun, smile-inducing series of blog posts that I’m sure will be thoroughly helpful to any Carnival newbies that have just landed on our shores and equally entertaining to the many Carnival Jumbies to whom this yearly ritual is of the utmost importance.
Without further ado – let’s begin our series with a special list… the TOP TEN THINGS TO DO AS SOON AS YOU LAND IN TnT FOR CARNIVAL:
1). BUY SOMETHING!!! Your family or friends or significant other will appreciate your visit even MORE if you show up bearing GIFTS. Trinis love foreigners who come bearing presents. Nothing makes a Trini smile harder than a foreign loved one’s “grip” (translation = “suitcase”) opening to reveal “something from the cold” (i.e. a present)… or better yet, we LOOOVE picking up someone from the airport and seeing that Duty Free bag in their hand (cause we know there’s liquor in it lol). DO invest in rum, scotch (whisky), and other such “gazool” (alchohol) that will be useful later on to your and your pees in your fete-ing and liming adventures. DON’T bother to buy your Trini loved ones “I Love Trinidad” T-Shirts or other such memorbilia (we live here, so we don’t need to be nostalgic about it much – we’d much rather drink something and take a wine up lol).
2) FREEZE!!! Nooo, silly – I don’t mean the weather is cold here. Quite the opposite actually. Fact is, even if you arrive in the middle of the night, it will still be way warmer than if you were back in, say Washington D.C., or Canada lol. No, what I’m saying is The FIRST thing you should do once you get through those class doors in Piarco Airport is to just PAUSE. STOP for a a minute and take it all in. Fresh air… warm weather… YOU’RE IN TRINIDAD! Take a second to enjoy the fact that you’ve officially arrived in paradise and to thank The Universe for blessing you with such a wonderful gift. (Some people go as far as kissing the ground… personally I don’t recommend it, but if that’s what makes you happy then by all means, go for it! As we Trinis love to say “What doh kill does fatten”, right?)
3) GET CONNECTED! Any true Trini will tell you that surviving in TnT in 2010 is MUCH easier when you’re HOOKED UP. I’m talking about a PHONE of course. The trick is to spend TIME finding out what options are best for you (pick a network, decide if to bring a phone with you or buy one here) – preferably BEFORE you even land. All the phone networks here have extensive sites so feel free to google them and see what the options that best suit you may be. Don’t under-estimate the importance of a phone in TnT. How you gonna call your family or text your crew to link up for the big fete without a cell? Better yet – what happens when you and your mas “pardners” hit the road and are separated in the band of your choice by THOUSANDS of other masqueraders? Thank goodness for texting, right? Also, if you’re a tech-head like me, you’ll want to make sure to enquire about the internet options wherever you’re staying (hotel, family’s house etc.) so you don’t wind up going into internet withdrawal during your Carnival trip.
4) “FULL YUH BELLY!!! (For you non-Trinis that means enjoy some good Trini Food lol). Everyone that has been here at least once has some kind of food ritual that accompanies their arrival in TnT. Some people need to chow down on a hot doubles (maybe right there in the airport, or at one of the many hot spots around like U-Wee Doubles, George’s in St. James, “Sauce” in Curepe Junction, etc)… Some folks look forward to their first box of “chicken and chips” (the KFC vs Royal Castle debate is never-ending in Trini so I’m not even getting into that here lol)…. Maybe you just want a roti from Hott Shoppe (or wherever your favourite roti shoppe happens to be… Or perhaps you’re been craving a more snackable delicacy (phoulourie, snow-cone, tamarind balls, sugar cake, coconut bake,,, the list is endless). The bottom line is stop fantasising about your favourite Trini dish and just GO GET IT! Yuh “reach” (as the song goes), so why not celebrate? Oh, and while you’re at it, why not have something Trini to drink too? (Mauby, leftover Xmas sorrel or ginger beer, peanut punch from a good “punch man”, a red Solo to go with that pepper-filled roti, a Shandy, an ice cold Stag/Carib, or just a nice lime with Uncle Johnny (Walker lol) will guarantee you start off your trip to TnT with a HUGE smile on your face (and a full belly too). BESIDES – you’ll need the ENERGY from all those delicious goodies for all the wining, wukking up, jumping and waving that’s to come.
5) GET FAMILIAR! If you haven’t been here for a while you might have to get used to a few new things, since the landscape here is ever-changing. If you weren’t here before the Summit, then you’ll certainly be seeing a few new sights on the drive home from the airport (“improved” highway, a now-finished overpass, etc). My best advice would be find a Trini who’s been here for at least a year and ask “Like Trini real change up?” They’ll be happy to point out a myriad of changes whether good or bad and add in their personal take on the situation, including financial and political commentary and probably a little bacchanal (gossip) thrown in. You’ve got to learn the landscape so you know how to get to and from all the fetes and mas, so what the heck? Sit back and enjoy the “tour”!
6) SETTLE IN! Get to your “home” for the season – whether that’s a hotel room, a guest house, a rented space or your family’s comfy home – and quickly put down your luggage, change clothes, PACK AWAY those thick sweaters and winter clothes (you WON’T be needing them for a while), and GET READY TO HAVE FUN! Nooooooo – don’t lie down on that bed. Don’t relax in that chair. Real Trini’s DON’T SLEEP at Carnival time! Sleep for after Ash Wednesday!!! A real TRUE TRINI’s first duty upon reaching home during the Carnival Season is to change into warm weather gear IMMEDIATELY and then PROCEED TO THE NEXT STEP!
7) LINK UP!!! Find out who you know that’s in TnT and ready to fete. Ask around and see what is de hottest lime/fete in town. Get tickets organised. Double check transportation arrangements. Who’s dropping you off, or who are you travelling with in the maxi/taxi to bacchanal central and how are you getting back home afterward? Whose plane landed already and when is the rest of the gang getting here? Make sure everything is all set up so you can proceed to the next step which is…
8) “BUSS A LIME”!!! Find a bar, rumshop, restaurant, sports bar, street corner, friend or relative’s house or any other place and enjoy a good old fashioned Trini lime. Drink a Stag/Carib “in the road” (well on the pavement actually, but you know what I mean lol). Take a wine on the corner. “Crack” (translation = “tell”) some jokes. Just enjoy being in TnT. “YUH REACH”!!!
9) HEAD TO THE NEAREST FETE! Even after a quick lime, it’s STILL not time to rest. Remember what I said in #6 – “Sleep is for after Ash Wednesday!!! Make sure and PAY YOUR MONEY. Don’t play Zuki & TimTim and try to “storm” (illegally enter) the fete because you WILL get thrown out or worse lol). Get EEEEEEEEEEEN a party and get ready to…
10) MASH UP THE PLACE! (Not LITERALLY!!!) Jump! Wave! Wine! Eat! Drink! Make Sure you have a designated driver! Be Merry! Carnival is yours – ENJOY! Have a safe and happy Carnival and enjoy the fete-ing.
Oh and if there was a #11 it would be “STAY TUNED TO MistaVybeWorld.com for the next Blog-isode of MISTA VYBE’S GUIDE TO TRINI CARNIVAL”!
For now this is your Carnival reporter Mista Vybe signing OFF! Vybe outttttttttttttt!