Carnival in Trinidad

We were somewhat mislead concerning the nature of last Sunday’s Viey La Cou. In our minds, “theater” means a performance with a plot. In Trinidad, it apparently refers to several different groups of people in costume walking to and fro on a grass field. The first section, from 1 pm to 4 pm, was a grueling affair due to the lack of action and brutal sun. Fortunately, the second half of the programme was much better.

One highlight was the “Jab Jab” masque, which involved a group of twenty or so young men dressed as some combination of devils/ninjas/imps/pirates. Each carried a large bull whip, which they cracked fiercly as they danced around to one of the three power songs that always seem to be playing here in Trinidad. To our surprise, the jab jabs formed a circle and two of them faced off with their whips, one forearm up to protect their eyes, the other trying to lash the bejeezus out of their advesaries. This wasn’t like pro wrestling, either. By the time they were done, the ground was littered with bits of costume that had been torn off.

Other notable masques included two old men dressed as American minstrels from the Wild West, who sang tunes from that era, and a band of painted blue devils who went into the crowd demanding money, dripping paint on people, regurgitating then eating red goo, and making little children cry. Although not what we were expecting, Viey La Cou was a good chance to see traditional Carnival characters and we’re glad we went.

We spent the week hard at work on the boat. The deck hardware is almost completely finished, the only thing left being a few blocks for the roller furling on the staysail. Greasing the seacocks, which should have been fairly easy, became a much larger project when we broke the one for the foot pump in the galley sink. This left a hole in the boat below the waterline, which is frankly unacceptable. At Budget Marine, we found a replacement, albeit a plastic one instead of a brass one. The clerk assured us that it was fine, though. If we sink halfway to the Virgin Islands, avenge us.

Friday night taught us a lesson that we’ve had many times before but never seem to learn. Suffice it to say that Saturday was spent lying around feeling sorry for ourselves. Steve Samaroo, a colleague of a family friend and the biggest importer/exporter in Trinidad, got us tickets into the staging area for costume pageant known as “Kings and Queens”. The costumes were huge and colorful, some rising over 20 feet high. The only rule for a costume is that it can have a maximum of three wheels. Aaron and I roamed around getting a good look at all the costumes and swilling Samba beer, which one stall was selling at the rate of 5 for $TT20(US$3.35). We also found hot dogs for TT$3, or 50 American cents. Steve showed up later, treating us very well while Aaron tried to convince him to go into politics.

We’d had more than enough by midnight, and Steve kindly drove us to within walking distance of the boat. We were glad to go to sleep. Saturday was spent in recuperation, especially in view of Sunday’s schedule. With the Superbowl kicking off at 7:30 pm local time, and our J’Ouvert team meeting to go downtown at 2 am, sleep will be in short supply. For this and other reasons, we might just stick to Coca Cola tonight.

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