Our plan since arrival in the Caribbean has been to attend
Carnival here in Trinidad. We have been looking forward to it since our
friends, Neil and Tracy on Adonde told us about it over a year ago. Frankly we
have been underwhelmed by the whole experience. It is billed the
"Greatest Show on Earth" but Barnum and Bailey need not
Carnival is a one to two month event that consumes this
tiny island nation. It was much different than what we expected and while
parts of it were well worthwhile, the parade on the final wild day was only
The parade is made up of thousands of people who have
joined together in "bands", each with a theme and colorful
They march, stroll is a better word, past judging stations
accompanied by music trucks so loud even ear plugs can't stop the head hurt, all
the while drinking beer and rum. The music trucks are flat bed semi's,
sometimes four of them for one band, with thousands of watts of power and
each filled with over fifty feet of solid speakers. The sound can be heard
five miles away, plus it is head banging with unintelligible lyrics and a tune
that is repeated over and over again. In the big bands, the sound trucks
are synchronized so it can be half a mile of the same god awful racket with
hundreds if not a few thousand people all strolling by drinking and
The "bar truck" for band members only, is a 40 foot semi
flat bed with up to 10 bartenders serving mixed drinks and beer. There was
a bar truck for each band. By the end of the parade everyone is drunk and
the next day, Ash Wednesday, is also a holiday and called recovery
Some of the bands, have a third type of flat bed
truck filled with port-a-johns so the participants don't have to pee in the
street. If a band doesn't have a toilet truck they just pee as they walk.
I am pretty sure she is just walking.
This woman was at least six foot five inches and pulled
her costume using the handles you see at her legs.
The costumes are so big in some cases, they have little
outrigger wheels to support them. All are human
On one of the nights preceding the parade, we
attended the Dimanche Gras which is the final judging for all the monster
costumes which are like these above, but much much bigger. Some were
over fifty feet wide, forty feet long and forty feet high. All had to be
"worn" and moved by only one person. They paraded across a stage
accompanied by a narrator who described them much like in the Rose Parade.
That was probably the best part of the whole experience. Unfortunately,
the parade route is miles long with three judging stations and it is too much
for the huge costumes, so only the smaller ones like these are in the parade
The back side of these costumes are as elaborate as the
front. There is a guy in the front of this one surrounded by the blue
If you look under the front legs of the horse, you can see
a man "wearing-pulling" this costume. He is at least seventy years old and
had to walk with a cane. It was probably close to 90 degrees with high
Carnival is over the island is getting back to normal,
which is for the most part, nothing to be proud of. Crime is
rampant, the government is a joke and the living conditions continue to
deteriorate. Trash is thrown everywhere and the populus is admonished with big
public signs to not urinate on walls and against fences. There are on
average, two murders a day and hundreds killed each year by auto accidents
partly due to drunk driving and roads that haven't been repaired since the
British left. They have a tar lake here that could pave the entire island and
they can't even fix a common pot hole.
Trinidad has oil and gas which makes it one of the
wealthiest of Caribbean nations. Still, forty percent of the population
doesn't have running drinking water, and the nation cannot feed
itself. Part of it is because of bad government, and part because the
people are lazy. Everything is imported, much from the US at exorbitant
costs. The selection of foods, particularly fruits and vegetables are limited to
what grows almost wild in the jungle. And yet, the government lets hundreds of
thousands of acres of flat, fertile, watered land sit idle.
country could be an exporter of food to other island neighbors, instead it
imports almost everything. One wonders where all the oil money is going,
but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess who's pockets it is
Our stay here, in the Bay of Chaguramas, is in the fine
marina of Crews Inn. We have a newspaper delivered each day to the boat,
so what I have been describing about the government is documented daily in the
press "letters to the editor" and columnists.
This marina is filled with snow bird American
boats. Even the power is 110 volt, a rarity in the Caribbean as most power
is 240 volt. Most of the boats are harbor queens that never go further than 10
miles. They are so overwhelmed by canvas and stuff, they couldn't move if
they had to. When one does something to their boat they all follow.
It is almost a case of "can you top this". No pun intended.
This is a forty four foot boat. Note the crows nest
and ladder. I think the guy is trying to make a sixty footer out of something a
lot smaller. I swear, everything you can put on a boat is on this
There is a taxi owner/operator by the name of Jesse James
who runs one of the most amazing businesses around. He can arrange and do
just about anything. He was able to get tickets for Carnival events at the
last minute and ferry us around where ever we needed to go. He also does
tours of the island and we spent all day with him seeing the rain forest, bird
sanctuary and roosting place of the scarlet ibis. The scarlet ibis are
brilliant candy apple red and fly in by the hundreds at dusk
to roost on an island that we were taken to by flat bottom boats.
Earlier in the day we were in the sanctuary where we had a great buffet lunch as
well. Jungle birds, flowers and fauna are really spectacular.
There are birds feeders everywhere, so watching them from
the veranda in this old coffee estate was very easy. They came to
us. We did however take an hour and half walk through part of the estate
where several specimen plants and flowers grew wild.
I think he is harmless, but I didn't get close enough to
Our initial plan was to store the boat here in Trinidad
for the summer, but after having been here, we decided instead to leave it
in Grenada at Spice Island Marina. Grenada is just in the hurricane belt,
however our insurance will allow storage below 12 degress, 30 minutes and Spice
Island is at 12 degress so we are just under their northern limit for coverage
during the stormy season.