Caribbean for Carnival, March 2011

So the story starts with Clint wanting to do something special for the 29th anniversary of his 21st birthday, in March.  He went to Pratt in NYC with a Trinidad friend, Rejane, and hadn't seen her in 27 years.  Misty employes a nail technician, also from Trinidad.  Add the fact that Trinidad is reputed to have the world's largest Carnival outside of Brasil, and you had all roads pointing towards Port of Spain.  I was very fortunate they invited me to come along, so that decision took all of 3 milliseconds.  As you will see, we had a most amazing time.  The event is  mind blowing.  Whatever you think Carnival is like, throw it out the window and be prepared to be impressed and amazed.

A word about the people of Trinidad and Tobago.  As with many islands in the Caribbean it had Spanish, French and finally English sovereignty, ending up as an English colony, gaining independence in 1962.  Oil and gas was discovered in the early part of last century, so by Caribbean standards it is well off.  The people are a mix of English, Indian, African, and every combination in between, but they appear to all have a very happy outlook on life.  Sure there is crime, some parts of the city you don't enter, you don't cross the big park (the Queen's Park Savannah) at night etc, but we didn't experience any hostility at all.  Hopefully as the pictures will show, it was quite the opposite.

DSC_0479  Rejane and Colin, without whom we would never have experienced 'Carnival as a local'.  They managed to squeeze us in, between building a new house, children's school and sports activities, and work (before Carnival started anyway).  A huge thankyou to two wonderful new friends.   (I have non muddy pics later!)  If you want to know anything about past or recent history of Trinidad, ask Colin!  (Mention Arsenal first and you get extra points.)

DSC_0394  Started with a rehearsal of Rejane's pan (the steel bands take their name from the oil drums or pans, that are the instruments).  All the musicians move to the music but this guy was in another world.

DSC_0515  Police station looking more like a Catholic convent.

DSC_0519  Some grand houses are still grand.

DSC_0569  But many of the 'Magnificent Seven' along side the Savannah, sadly are not.

DSC_0656  Yes, Trinidad, not Arabia.

DSC_0605  Carnival of course.

DSC_0499  'Fashion' seems to be the same wherever you are.