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.