Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Carnival in Grenada


  Posted by Picasa Our second marvelous experience was Carnival in Grenada. Six of us flew there, Linda and Mike from "Casa del Mar" and Kathleen and Roland from "M'Lady Kathleen" and ourselves, after a six hour delay at the airport in Trinidad. Our hotel was the location of the judges for the big parade and close to all the action. A group of huge speakers were set up across the street and Soca music played all day and most of the nights. The noise level was the only downside - it was deafening really. They had a indoor/outdoor cafe overlooking the street and we spent a lot of time there, eating, drinking and watching the constant activities outside. The venue for the evening events was only a five minute walk away.
Our first evening was "Panorama" where the top eight pan bands on the island played. This is a big spectacle with up to 80 percussionists in each band and up to 140 instruments. They play, dance and do comic routines, all in colorful costumes and ome with a coordinating sets. The second evening was the presentation of the eight kings of queens of each band in competition for the overall king and queen. The costumes were very elaborate with the poor queens in particular often having to be helped off the stage after their presentation. This was followed by a Calypso competition.
The third night was the participatory parade - it felt like a good proportion of the island was there. On our arrival we purchased a "package" for the Cable and Wireless team. This included a T-shirt, baton with LED multicolor lights dancing up and down, whistle with LED lights, drink coupons and hard hats. We met with our team and practiced elementary movements to the theme music and then hundreds strong joined the masses dancing through the streets from other teams. Every team had a long speaker truck and dispensed beer and soft drinks. Each presented for the judges in front of our hotel. This was a raucous and fun time for all. We got only a few hours of sleep that night before waking up at 4 AM for Jouvay, this is a morning ritual involving motor oil, paint and costumes.

Thousands all over the island roam the streets, many dressed in devilish costumes, rubbing the first two items mentioned all over their, in many cases, scantily dressed bodies. All continue to drink the beer and rum which flows continuously. Stands with food and drink line all the streets. Grenadians are lovely people and there were no serious incidents of crime during Carnival. We all felt very safe on the streets, even at night. People did not grab you but asked permission to dance or hug. We wore old disposable clothes and joined in - fairly decorously. The foreign medical students were very obviously having a marvelous time - they hung around our area as the school is far away.
After another few hours of sleep it was time for the big parade. This is the last day of Carnival and the culmination of a year's work for . many areas of the island. Eight groups, each with a main theme, presented a series of costumed men, women and children, along with music and performers. Most groups had hundreds of participants, all elaborately dressed and all having a marvelous time. We had rooms in the front of the hotel with balconies and had invited a number of cruiser friends to join us. We set up a hospitality bar and snacks and watched the hours long parade. Each group did a special presentation in front of our hotel so we had a great view. Carnival was wonderful and we feel so lucky to have seen it here, where security isn't a concern.

We also had a lovely day out with a number of boat friends anchored at Prickly Bay, including a great BBQ on the beach. Our flight back was on time and it was a relief to us all to find our boats all safe and - yes, blessedly quiet.

Monday, August 07, 2006

More Grenada Carnival Pictures

Men and women like this fellow above right play to the crowd as they march along. Others are team players and stay in line.

Carnival is such a fascinating and colorful time that one entry simply doesn't cover it! Here are more pictures from our trip to Grenada's Carnival in early August, 2006. Each area of the country had it's own theme and their candidates for King and Queen were dressed to reflect this. I've included several representatives here.
The picture taken at night is rather dark of course but The Blue Men show up much better if you enlarge it by double clicking on the photo. At Jouvai, and throughout Carnival, men (occ. women) cover themselves in motor oil or paint. They sometimes carry a pail of it as well. It's pretty hard to avoid getting some yourself so we dressed in throw away clothes for Jouvai.

We saw these "King" and "Queen" candidates on the second night of the Carnival at the outdoor stage. In some cases their costumes were even more elaborate. They had to pare them down to walk in the parade! One advantage of a simpler lighter costume is that allows the person to dance and engage the crowd. This "angel" Queen Candidate is a good example. The superstructure of the outfit is supported by a harness around her midsection. She's probably trying to take some of the weight off her shoulders with her arms - but still smiling and strutting.

One theme was "African Sunrise" seen here just above right and to the right. Another, "T'ings We Love", with flowers and butterflys etc. is shown in the top left picture for a group shot. This featured more children than all the rest and had one particularly adorable "bee", about 2 years old, above left.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Leatherback Turtle Laying & Hatching

Two terrific experiences occurred during August. The first was a three day trip to Grand Riviere on the Northeast Coast to see the leatherback turtles laying their eggs and the baby turtles hatching. We rented a car and drove four hours through the center of the island and along the coastline. The views, especially on the north coast were lovely. The road runs right along the water.
Mt. Plasir Hotel is a small charming place directly on the beach run by an Italian, Piero Guerrini.   We slept under mosquito nets listening to the waves crashing thirty feet away and ate some wonderful meals.  The first night we discovered our own turtle around 2 AM and watched her climb up the beach, dig a 5 foot hole, lay her eggs and cover them up. We were careful not to disturb her in any way and therefore could not take any pictures. The second night we saw two turtles earlier in the evening with a local guide and he explained the whole process and their life cycle.  This was a remarkable and moving experience. This small village is at the end of a long road from the developed end of Trinidad and has avoided the "Americanization" rampant there. There are plans to continue this road someday around the coast to Chaguaramas but everyone we spoke to there opposed it. We hope they are successful. Local boys and girls patrol the beach during the day to protect the hatching baby

   turtles from the vultures which circle. We were able to take some pictures of them that you see with this entry. We arranged a guide to take us into the rain forest to a waterfall. This was a wonderful hike and we enjoyed talking to our guide so much. We met his wife and family at their home in the forest. His children were all born deep in the woods without any
medical assistance and luckily not needing any. We swam in a lovely pool at the bottom of the waterfall. The next morning we regretfully drove back to the boat.
Our second terrific August event is featured in our next two entries - Carnival in Grenada!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Trinidad stay

We are now back in in Trinidad after a five week visit home to see family and friends. "Scott Free" is at the Crew's Inn Marina tied up in a slip and the boat will probably be here until November 1. We are only a few miles from the Venezuelan coast but it doesn't look like we're going to get there. We have many more work projects going on than we expected and all are in various stages of completion. The biggest surprise was the results of our rigging survey, done just after our arrival here on June 22. Our bow sprit (the picture here shows our bow stripped of its' bow sprit) and dinghy davits were both damaged and needed to be replaced. This is a big steel fabrication job and it looks like they will be finished by mid October. We can't safely move the boat until this work is completed, so we'll be here at least until then. This will give the riggers time to complete the rigging replacement also being done. Our transmission was hauled, inspected, cleaned and replaced. We are replacing and/or repairing our canvas work and stripping, sanding and revarnishing a lot of our wood work, exterior almost done, interior to go. Then there's the cleaning and polishing of the exterior fiberglass and stainless steel. Scott has also spent days cleaning up the dinghy.

So it's lucky that we're here for awhile. There are excellent workers and shops for all our projects and the rates are reasonable. The marina is very lovely and has a good pool (we can do laps), small grocery store, and nice restaurant. The harbor is chockfull of marinas, marine industry companies, and cruisers. We're part of a tight knit community of widely assorted people here and there's lots going on. Although the majority are probably American, Canadians, British, French and other mostly European countries are all well represented. Trips by "maxi taxi" (vans seating about 12 persons) go out every day for shopping and sightseeing. On Tuesday mornings I board at 9:30AM for a supermarket, mall, fruit and vegetable stand, meat market and book store. We're back at 12:30 with lots of packages.
On Wednesday we joined a group who went into the center of town to the fabric shops and lunch. On Thursdays the seamstresses come, one for general clothing and curtains, the other for bathing suits. I've had a sundress made and have ordered a tunic and pants of burnt orange raw silk I bought.
We are replacing the beige curtains that are permenantly stained with a soft green. Friday we did an all day trip down south to the Pitch Lake and 2 Hindu Temples (Trinidad is 40% African descent, 40% India Indian descent and the rest Chinese, European and Latin American. Saturday we had a group of friends over for pot luck appetizers and drinks by the pool. On Sundays we play Mexican Train Dominos, and on Mondays there's bridge. Thursday nights there's a pot luck BBQ by the pool and every restaurant has a special evening once a week. Doesn't it sound like we're living in a retirement home?