Cultural Explosion

Sarah Grace goes to sea
Chris Yerbury and Sophy White
Sun 26 Feb 2006 01:56
Chaguaramus, 25th February 2005.
We have arrived in a national party, the scale of which we are entirely unfamiliar.
Carnival is hard to describe, but as far as I can make out it goes a little like this. 
It is a bit like supporting a football team, but instead of sitting around a stadium and cheering, you spend the equivalent of a months income on a really skimpy and elaborate costume, and then dance around following your team's carnival King and Queen.  This King and Queen are part of a competition. Their outfits cost around £10,000.  This is a knockout competition with quarter-finals, semi-finals etc.  Each appearance of the King and Queen has between a few thousand and TEN thousand THEMED  supportors.  All the outfits have to match the King and Queen.  There is an accompanying orchestra sized pan band, which is also judged.  There are dozens and dozens of these enormous teams.  All the displays and competitions culminate in a mass display and parade next Tuesday. 
This is preceeded by Jouvet, a 4am  Monday mudfight and body paint carnival battle.  I wasn't going to risk attending this, but having met Ornulf (at least 70) who had just arranged to go, I decided that we were all being sad.  As a result, the whole family is going to join the mudfight tomorrow night, all three hours of it, in Port of Spain.  We have joined a band called 'Pirates Ashore'.  All the clothes we wear will be wrecked.  All participants have to cover themselves with baby oil and conditioner beforehand ,  so after getting filthy,  it can all wash off.
I will tell you how it goes!