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Date: 25 Feb 2007 16:09:27
Title: It's all a bit hazy, we were carnival crazy!!

"De mud is ready!" went the shout and the crowd surged forward to the flat bed truck with the drums of runny mud on the back, and the mudders with the scoops commenced pouring the mud over the revellers. It was 3:30am on Monday morning and we were on a playing field in Port of Spain, getting ready to play "J'ouvert", the first part of carnival. Essentially this consisted of getting covered in the aforementioned mud and following the music truck (a 40 ft artic with a massive generator and jammed with banks of speakers, with just enough room for a DJ - and it was LOUD) round the streets of Port of Spain, dancing all the way. Refreshment was provided by the beer truck, another flat bed with drums of ice and beer etc, and as we'd done the all-inclusive thing again when you wanted a beer you just went and got one. Fantastic fun, completely mad, this went on until about 9:30am when we returned to the start point for breakfast from the temporary kitchen that had been set up. It was all completely bizarre, with mud and body paint being thrown around and some truly outrageous dancing going on (called "wining), which somehow us white folk just can't quite carry off - it would appear that the ladies of Trinidad have some kind of universal joint type lower vertebrae which enables them to rotate and swivel and whatnot in all different directions at once, lovely to look at but when I tried it I put my back out. We'd taken a disposable camera with us so here's some pics - not great quality but hopefully they get the idea across. Here's the wrecking crew in our finery before the event, and then ten minutes later:
 
 
Just to make sure you understand the lunacy fully, here's some more nutters:
 
 
And a couple more for good measure:
 
 
Anyway, that was the start of carnival...we dibbed out of the carnival procession on Monday as we were knackered (and Monday's is a cut-down version), but went back into town on Tuesday morning for the big one. We got ourselves some seats in a stand and sat back to enjoy the show. Well that was a bit tame so we went walkabout to get closer to the action. There are various "bands" (not musical groups, just groups of people) which people sign up with and get their costumes and then follow their bands' trucks around the route, from around 7:00 am till after dark. Some of the bands are massive - maybe 5000 people - with four or more music trucks each. The sound is amazing, so loud your clothes vibrate, and the music (Soca) is best described as music to which you cannot, just cannot, stop yourself from dancing. And that's coming from a bloke that never dances, that's how serious it is. Poppy, and Gwen, you'd have loved it. We met up with Simon & Jacquie where their band had stopped for lunch, and then the revelry continued. The best bit for us really was not the spectacle or even the music but the fact that everyone was plainly just having such a fantastic time - these Trinis certainly know how to party! We'd booked on a 2:00pm bus to come back to the marina but were having such a good time we stayed until the last tour bus back at 5:00pm, just as well because towards the end the trucks with the steel bands came past. Magic.
 
 
 
We'd considered joining a band, but it's quite expensive so we just watched. As the day wore on we were torn between wishing we were part of it all and grateful we weren't as it was a long day - maybe next time...
On the right is some bloke looking a bit squiffy towards the end of the day with a couple of lovelies who obliged by posing for a photo - note the piece of costume he'd found - stig of the dump?
 
 
We've got loads more photos of course, but reckon you might be getting a bit bored by now so we'll finish off with a pic of one of the music trucks. Our ears are still ringing! Some people wear ear plugs to protect their hearing, and apparently there's something called "post carnival syndrome" (Tracy had it) which feels like you've got a cold but is more likely to be an irritation caused by concrete and brick dust that's shaken loose by all the noise - true!
I couldn't resist it although she'll probably kill me, on the right is Jacquie taking a break at around 10:00am - only another 8 hours to go...
 
 
So that was carnival. We're still here in Trinidad and will be here for another week or so as we need to get the boat hauled out for a few jobs, primarily to change the saildrive (gearbox) oil which can't be done with the boat in the water. So that's happening on Wednesday, for five days, and shortly after we'll be heading back to Grenada for a rest(!) and then further north to see what we can see. Watch this space...

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