March 11, 2014

Carnival Chronicles: {Day 1} LIAT, Rolly pollys & Crowd control at TRIBE

Declaring that I'm not a morning person is a slight understatement. I HATE waking up early, but the one exception is when I'm waking up to catch a flight. The only thing keeping a smile on my face on my way to the airport was knowing that I was one step closer to Carnival.


Unfortunately, LIAT had other plans. We flew via St.Vincent and it was while we were chilling on the tarmac waiting for the new passengers to board that I noticed my bag being unloaded. I told the stewardess that my bag shouldn't be taken off because I was continuing on to Trinidad, but she smiled and told me it was going to be brought back on to the plane shortly. As this conversation was going on, the plane started to tilt backwards. As in, the front of the plane lifted off of the ground and it actually tilted backwards. Apparently they let too many people board the plane through the back door, and the plane started to lift off at the front. Cue raging panic amongst the passengers who were seated and the stewardess screaming as she ran through the aisle: 
"GET TO THE FRONT OF DE PLANEEEE! DON'T PANIC! JES MOVE FORWARDDD!" 

Panic continued on the tarmac as well, as ground handling personnel ran towards the plane and hung like monkeys from the front wheel. Panic then subsided as quickly as it arose as the plane levelled itself and a man seated behind me joked:
"De big bumpas and rolly polly ladies mek de plane tilt! Who let dem on board?"
Lucky for LIAT, everyone was too excited about Carnival to care about the near disaster.


LIAT continued to impress me as I arrived in Port-of-Spain, by informing me that my bag had in fact been left in St.Vincent and would 'maybe come later tonight.' Mine was amongst 50+ bags that had simply been taken off of the plane to accommodate the rolly pollys and big bumpas who got on. I was too tired to throw a fit, and the LIAT personnel seemed way too used to this sort of thing to give a shit. Silly me, I should have just packed everything in my hand luggage. First time flying with LIAT was an epic fail but at least I was finally in Trinidad.

I was picked up by John, a family friend who was kind enough to lend us his car for the duration of the trip. After a quick bite, he dropped me to our apartment where I was reunited with Chris and the girls who had arrived in Trinidad earlier that day.

Lots of squealing and giggling later, we chilled at the apartment until it was time for me to go to the band house to collect my costume with J (As the only male in the house, he was hereby known as 'Justine' for the week)


I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when we got to the band house. It was organized chaos as hundreds of people queued to collect their costumes. Feathers and beads were everywhere and Harts did a great job of keeping people happy by offering free beer and wine to everyone waiting. Thanks again for taking us Dans & Philou :) 


I felt slightly deflated when I got my costume, because I couldn't believe I had paid so much money for something that was stuck together with glue. Everyone justifies the cost of the costumes by saying that they're hand-made/stitched  so that they'll last through two days on the road, but this was not the case. I also paid an extra 1000 TT (US$150) for my collar, and though the feathers were beyond beautiful, I was shocked to see that it was poorly constructed and had 'end' bits sticking out, which rubbed against my neck. Luckily, I've made and fixed my fair share of costumes so we spent Sunday evening making a few adjustments. A few glue sticks, some extra material and lots of re-designing later, my collar looked like new and fit snugly across my shoulders.

I quickly got over my costume issues as we got ready to go to see Machel and Bunji at Tribe Ignite.

I might add here that I still had not heard a peep from LIAT about my lost luggage, so I was left at the mercy of my amazing housemates. The girls quickly put together a cute outfit that I could borrow for the night, and I ended up being more fashionably dressed than usual.


Free premium drinks, shots bars, shooter girls and promotions left right and centre makes Tribe feel like a cool fun land for adults. Most of the sponsors also have booths with photographers and games set up to entertain the crowd before the acts. 


 Apparently a group of girls who arrived early at a fete like that are treated like show ponies; it was quite funny to be stopped by every photographer in sight to pose for a "pikcha."  I have yet to see how or where any of those photos ended up but I'm pretty sure I was making funny faces in half of them. I pity the promo girls dressed like eskimos for the night...


The music started, the crowd was happy and it was starting to look like a great night. Just as we were getting hyped up, Machel announced that he had to lip sync so as to preserve his vocal cords for Soca Monarch the following evening and then suddenly stopped his performance altogether. Apparently the organizers had oversold tickets and there was a crowd waiting to get through the gates when they heard Machel come on. They stormed the gate and the police panicked, demanding that Machel "calm the crowd' to help the situation.


If it's one thing I was looking forward to going crazy for, it was Machel. I LOVE his high energy performances and I've always enjoyed myself thoroughly at his concerts. I couldn't wait to bounce, jump, scream and sweat for this man, so I was really offset when he told us that the police were trying to control the crowd by making him sing more mellow tunes. 30 mins of Barry White-esque serenading later and the crowed had been completely drained of all energy. The highlight for some was Usain Bolt making an appearance on stage next to Machel, doing his thing to wow the crowd and get everyone excited again. It was pretty cool to see Usain in the flesh like that, but I'm not sure that anything could save the night after Machel's big let down. This was before the main act, Bunji Garland, was scheduled to come on but I'm not even sure that he showed up that night because we went home shortly after Machel. 



It was unfortunate that some of the carnival parties we attended were simply OK and not the hyped-up amazingness they were made out to be. TRIBE was one of those parties. 
Carnival or not, parties can always be a hit or miss but I think the added pressure make the disappointment that much more sour. 

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