Monday, March 11, 2013

Trinidad Carnival Experience (Part Three: Fetes, Jouvert & Carnival Monday/Tuesday)

As a foreigner, securing tickets for fetes and some events can seem like having to jump through a lot of hoops. The requirements of having to know a committee member or having to be there in person for early bird registration can definitely pose a bit of a challenge. I am very grateful for having both friends and family that were able to help me out with getting tickets. As an alternative, I would highly recommend using services like The Carnival Connection to try to secure tickets (Remember the key is to contact TCC early!)

Caesar's Army Ambush

My first fete for the carnival season was Caesar’s Army Ambush. Caesar’s Army is considered an alternative jouvert. It is alternative because unlike most jouverts that take place Monday morning, this one takes place on the Saturday. 


After returning from picking up my carnival costume and liming on the avenue, I was able to squeeze in a power nap for about 3 hours. I had to prepare myself mentally for the 4am start time of this fete. I was quite accustomed to the fetes in Toronto that ended at that time, rather than start! 

My friends met me at the hotel around 2:30am with our jourvet packages. My package included a white t-shirt, wristband, Caesar’s Army bandana and a Caesars army cup. The drive to get there was an interesting experience. I read past recollections from bloggers like Lehwego about the drive to the meetup point being in a dark secluded area and it definitely was! 

Once we got to the meeting point, we were happy to see a bunch of maxi vans on the side of the road and people gathering. After about 5 minutes of liming as the crowd grew, we were then instructed to get into a maxi. After showing our wristband, we were shuttled to another secluded area. And the madness began! Ambush was epic! We started like this:

And ended like this…  

It was liberating letting go of all inhibitions and getting dirty with paint and powder. I’m usually one who likes to be put together, but that night all that went out the window. Special appearances from Super Blue after his win at Soca Monarch, and Bunji Garlin were nice surprises to the event. When dawn broke and you could hear Bunji’s "Differentology", the feeling was incredible.Overall the event was fun, and it has definitely made my list of must-dos for next year.


Later that evening I attended Scorch.  The venue was at the stadium, which was set up with two stage areas and drinks/food tents on the left and right perimeters. One difference I noticed from the fetes in Trinidad compared to the ones in Toronto, is they have the outdoor event experience nailed to a tee. I had heard this event attracts a lot a good looking crowd and that was an understatement. A friend who had arrived at the fete before me, texted me to give a heads up that she felt the crowd was a bit stush. I must have arrived at a perfect time, because I didn’t get that stush vibe and saw many people enjoying themselves. Overall I had a pretty good time.

Vale Vibe

I had tickets to attend the Vale breakfast party, but unfortunately the event was cancelled. I was really looking forward to this party as I heard from my cousins that it was one of the best during the carnival season.  I was impressed though with the professionalism that was exhibited by the promoters with regards to the refund process. Within a few days of leaving Trinidad I had received my refund for the tickets. 

Carnival with Bliss

Experiencing my first Trinidad carnival with Bliss was amazing. The band truly lives up to its name, it was complete bliss. I had a great time on both the Monday and Tuesday. My experience with them began with costume pick up. My cousins and I went to pick up our costumes on carnival Friday at the Hilton hotel. After paying the remainder of the balance, we were escorted to the distribution room to collect our costume and goodie bag. I was impressed with the goodie bag, which was a purple duffel bag, that had an assortment of the sponsors products and souvenirs, such as flip tops, customized water bottles, and a tube top to match your costume. The information brochure was also a nice touch that provided information to masqueraders on the order of sections, wrist band policy, meal schedule, drink list, meeting point and lunch stop.
When I had got my costume the bliss employee went through all of the contents of the box to ensure all of the pieces and accessories were there. One issue that I did experience was the bra size I ordered was not what I was given. I really am thankful that my cousin was there to help get that sorted out, because the first lady we had spoken with in the customer care department insisted there were no other smaller sizes available and that nothing could be done. Fortunately, with a bit of persistence, I was taken to the back to try on the bra and was assisted by Kirt Jaimungal. With a few tugs and folds, he took a mental note and drew a picture on a sticky note of the adjustments that were needed to be made to the bra. He advised he could fix it and that it would be ready for pick up tomorrow. Surprisingly he sewed the adjustment that same night, but my cousin had offered to get it for me on Saturday. Not only was I grateful that the bra fit perfectly, I was more so surprised by him remembering and walking up to me on Monday to ask me if everything was good with the adjustments he made. Talk about great service, and not feeling like just a number! Thanks Kirt! In terms of the costume, it was beautiful and well-crafted. It is also still fully intact, without any beads or gems missing. 

Playing with Bliss was great. The music was on point, security was on point (so much so that I felt more safe and free from stormers playing in Trinidad then I do playing in Toronto), the rest stop and food selection was on point. I was surprised by all the options that were available, I had bbq chicken both days and it was tasty. The variety of drink options were endless, however since I don’t drink, I had my fill of flavored snow cones, water and Gatorade.

I had a few moments on Carnival Tuesday when it felt so surreal: crossing the stage was incredible! Also chipping down the avenue with confetti in the air was another unforgettable moment.  Carnival Tuesday culminated with the band heading to a venue for the Tribe and Bliss after party. Though this ended early, it was great to see the two bands coming together. Seeing the waves of people flooding in (Tribe had soooo many masqueraders) was another surreal moment. 

With that said, my first carnival experience was overall amazing. Considering the few setbacks I encountered prior to getting there, I am really happy that I went and had such a great time.  I can see why playing in Trinidad can become addictive! I myself am already planning to come back next year for my friend’s wedding in Tobago (which just happens to be a few days after carnival!) Woot woot!  

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