Finally, I was in Trinidad, after barely avoiding a snow storm at the airport in Toronto.
After passing through Customs and Immigration, the first order of business was getting a local phone to avoid those roaming charges. I’m sorry Destra, I do worry about those roaming charges . The next stop was obviously the Duty Free shop to refill my prescription by Doctor Ravi B.
Walking out of the airport, I was hit by a blast of heat that was quite the shock after coming from the cold wintry Toronto air. All around me Trinis were speaking that lilting Trinidadian accent that I just love even though I sometimes have a hard time deciphering what is being said. A few minutes later, we were in Shello’s SUV – blasting Soca music leaving the airport behind us.
As an aside, why are there so many roundabouts in Trinidad?
On a normal vacation, your first stop from the airport would be to the hotel or to your family’s home but not this one. The first stop was in Aranguez to pick up Monday wear and carnival boots for Monday and Tuesday.
Many houses in Trinidad have a compound, with gates. This particular house had a drive way with a beautiful front yard with a multitude of colorful flowers.
Rawle of Couture Boots by Rawle handed over the boots and Monday wear and immediately, Maria Lopez went gaga. She had spent hours and hours coordinating shipping the boots there, working out the styling and colour and (bling?) with Boots by Rawle. As a man, I thought the boots looked great but I was glad that all that I needed to wear was a pair of old sneakers that did not require more than two minutes to pack.
After loading up in the SUV, I kinda, sort of felt thirsty and of course Shello immediately stopped at a fruit stand that just also happened to sell beer. I got a very cold and refreshing Stag. As I was being driven, drinking an ice cold Stag, I knew I would love Trinidad.
The plan was to go home, bathe, change and go to Maracas to try the famous bake n’ shark, enjoy the beach and take in the sea breeze but that did not happen. As soon as we got home, people kept coming over because during carnival plans are fluid and flexible like a wining waist. I just went with the flow.
As we were liming in the back porch, the relative quiet was shattered by really really loud music and wall shaking bass. Looking around, I was the only one surprised. I poked my head outside and saw a massive truck with carrying about 12 speakers, blasting away. I was later told that the massive truck is called a music truck and that the neighbours across the street was a DJ combined the fact that we were right on Arapita avenue. Clearly, I shouldn’t expect it to get any quieter.
For lunch I had a very very nice beef and pigtail pelau. I went for seconds and thirds and even tried fourths… It took a while for me to be able to walk the short distance to the Cocoa Devils camp where we could pick out their J’Ouvert packages.
Here we ran into an issue….our friend who had receipts was at a fete and he was going back to back to back fetes without any chance of us getting the receipts off him. After explaining the issue to the Cocoa Devils ladies, they were very helpful and we got our costumes. See you again in 2014 Cocoa Devils!
Ten minutes later we were back at the house and I got to see my Carnival Costume. We were registered to play mas in Bliss but because of our late arrival date a friend had collected them for us. Upon opening the boxes, I wondered why a costume that was basically shorts, and some bands, would cost $506 CAD but like I said….it was Carnival and I just went with the flow.
Later in the evening, after everyone had left. We went to a friends house for a lime where I found that the house also doubled as an ad hoc mas camp. Being my first Carnival, I always thought that someone would buy a costume and then wear it on Carnival Tuesday. How wrong I was! Sometimes, the costumes, are reinforced (strength wise and glitter wise), redecorated with feathers, gems, braid, beads and even re-sized.
After the lime, we went on the famous/infamous Arapita Avenue. Arapita Avenue is a street filled with street vendors, restaurants and lounges. It was immortalized in song by Machael Montano – On de Avenue. It is the main liming spot if you happen to be in Trinidad. To be quite honest, I expected the Avenue to be jam packed with more people than it was. We met up with some friends at a lounge had some more Stags and limed. When in Trinidad, lime like a Trini. They lime everywhere and every chance they get.
On the way back to the house, we stopped and had a few of the famous Trini doubles by the street. The plan was to take a nap, wake up at 3 am and head out to Sunnyside for 4 am. That was before the doubles played havoc with Maria’s delicate constitution…
Cost of Trip Day 2: CAD $597
Cocoa Devils J’Ouvert $91, Carnival Costume $506
Total Cost of Trip Day 1 and Day 2 = CAD$1622
In my upcoming post I’ll write more about my stay in Trinidad – including the best fete I never went to and how Gangnam style made it into my first Trinidad Carnival experience (you just can’t escape from that song!). More pictures and videos to come. Feel free to leave a comment or tweet with questions and comments.
Click here To view more photos from @SoulRebelTO’s trip to Trinidad : http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.500385203352499.1073741825.205129872878035&type=1&l=f137854dc5
@SoulRebelTO is not a Trini but he loves soca music, good rum, Stag and corn soup. You can follow @SoulRebelTO on Twitter