Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My first time - memories of Tarik's 1st trip to Trinidad…

I am from California and have no Trini blood although I am certain that has changed in time! So how did it all start for me?

Back in 2006, I used to live in New York and always enjoyed the Labor Day West Indian parade in Brooklyn. As all the countries represent themselves on Grand Eastern Parkway it was (and still is) a sight to see and my favorite NY parade each year. All the trucks and costumes coming down "de road" in amazing colors, music and in country unison while I’m walking and eating great Caribbean food along the sidewalk. But, then I noticed a clear trend. What is wrong with these people from Trinidad? They were hanging off the side of the trucks, the loudest group around and no matter when or where I saw them come down "de road", it was crazy and I loved it. LIGHTBULB turns on….I have to go to Trinidad!!!

So this was meant to be the single man’s trip with the fellas. I had my crew lined up, had all my verbal commitments and had lodging booked. It was a challenge to understand how things worked in Trinidad as events, parties and activities are really localized. A Google search in 2006 would not have led you anywhere that was helpful. Then it was time to actually require the money to come forward from my crew. One person fell off, then another, then another. At this point I was like there is NO WAY I am missing this trip even if I have to go by myself. And that is exactly what happened!!

I remember arriving in Port of Spain the Sunday night before Carnival with no idea what was going on or how to really do anything. I had to pickup my costume locally as I purchased it from someone in Brooklyn as I was “playin mas with Tribe”. I checked in my hotel and promptly asked where the parties (fetes) were. I stuck out like a foreigner no doubt but wound up at a Soca Chutney fete which was a great party even though it was 90% East Indian and an awakening experience. I enjoyed the party and as the party ended around 4am, I came out and the streets were crowded for J’Ouvert.

I didn’t know what J’Ouvert was but I had never seen such a street party at 4am!! Trucks packed with speakers were surrounded by people with mud, paint, baby powder and lots of craziness going on but it was amazing to watch as I had never seen anything quite like it. You really have to experience it to understand it.

And of course that rolled into Carnival Day 1 and Day 2, better known as Carnival Monday and Tuesday. For me this was the highlight of the trip by far because I had not really gone to many fetes or live events before Carnival. Day 1 was a relaxed day which is like a primer to “pretty mas” which is on Day 2. I really had never heard Soca music so I really couldn’t understand most of the songs but the rhythm was very infectious. Once you hear Soca music in Trinidad you will know what I mean. And unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your view), your random spouting of disconnected lyrics will commence. Trust me, I assure you this will happen and you won’t be able to explain why.

On Day 2, the beauty and full pageantry comes to life. Everywhere you look you see amazing costumes, vibrant colors worn by locals and foreigners alike while listening to thumping Soca music as people walk or "chip down de road". This is the peak of the Carnival experience and it is clear everywhere you look and you can feel a different vibe. After a few hours, I had no personal or work cares in the world and found myself in a state of constant revelry. That may be slightly exaggerated in truth since I really didn’t drink much at all because I was by myself and wanted to stay on top of things. Plus how would I have met my wife Esha, if I was stumbling around all day…hello!! See this page for an explanation - click here.  For the fellas, specifically the single ones, I can’t assure you that you’ll meet your future wife but I can tell you this will be an eye candy experience unmatched anywhere else in the world. Yeah, I said it….…the world!!

So, after Carnival I made the traditional trip to Tobago. Tobago is the neighboring island and a charming, natural, quiet, refreshing tropical paradise. It’s great for tourist trips, snorkeling, scuba diving and my favorite pastime "limin’" (relaxing) on the beach with a Stag beer while the water rolls over my feet. I suspect most people need a TnT vacation during Carnival but don’t realize it until they actually experience the "bacchanal" (madness)!!

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