March 10, 2014

Carnival Chronicles: An honest review of my first Trinidad Carnival experience




The glitter has settled, the fake tan is flaking off and though the Soca is still ranging in my ears, I've been trying my best to wrap my head around the past week. 

I sometimes feel pressured to limit my blog posts to all of the fun stuff I get to experience, knowing that nobody wants to hear about boring, mundane or sometimes terrible stuff. But since returning from Carnival I've felt pretty discombobulated- and it wasn't just because I was sore, exhausted and hungover (though that played a big part). After months of counting down, working out & looking forward to Carnival, I ended up feeling conflicted and slightly guilty about the whole experience and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I wasn't sure if my experience was even worth blogging about, because nobody wants to hear about the only person in the world who didn't really enjoy Carnival right?

I've spoken quite openly about my thoughts on Carnival to friends and family, and they've all reacted differently. I expected them to glare at me and call me a grump, but most of them could understand where I was coming from and know me well enough to see that I just needed to give it another chance.

Firstly, let me set a few things straight before I start telling you about my experience - I've thought longgggg and hard about how I'm going to write these posts. I've written and re-written them because I have so many things to consider when talking about Carnival and the people who I shared this experience with. The bottom line is, I personally didn't enjoy Carnival as much as I would have liked to because I didn't know what to expect and I was thrown off by a lot of things. Everyone talks about how amazing Carnival is but I've never actually heard anyone talk about the adverse aspects of it, which could have helped me prepare and plan a bit better instead of just going with the flow. I think I built it up too much in my head, without considering how certain elements of it would affect my time, such as the lack of sleep and feeling stressed out as a result. 

Secondly, I'm including these somewhat negative aspects of Carnival in my posts because I like to be as realistic as possible when blogging about the things that I experience. However, I did really enjoy MANY aspects of it (which I will also be highlighting of course) and don't want to insult anyone with my personal experiences. I'm just going to lay it out there for anyone who cares to read it.

Finally, when asked whether I would ever go again my answer is undoubtedly "Yes!" I want to try it again, just differently next time. 

I would also love to explore more of Trinidad itself; it was my first time in Trinidad and I was surprised to find that I loved the organised chaos of Port-of-Spain, the green Savannah and the beauty of the surrounding areas. The food was another highlight; give me Shark & bake at the end of a fete any day! The islands off of Port of Spain (a.k.a 'Down Di Islands' or 'DDI') was incredible (one day of it was not enough) and I wish we had that kind of boating culture here in Barbados. I need to highlight how friendly everyone was too; Bajans joke about an inter island 'rivalry' with Trinidadians but people went out of their way to make me feel welcomed that week and that meant a lot to me.

It truly is an incredible experience to be in Trinidad for Carnival; to hear steel pans playing in the distance around the clock, to see people high on life (and alcohol) and to soak up the energy, chaos and excitement 24/7. The energy is like nothing I've ever seen or felt before. It's intoxicating and unfortunately, it was too late before I realized I wanted more. That craving for more is what will draw me back to Port-of-Spain for another attempt at the Greatest show on Earth.

Stay tuned for the good, the bad and glittery of Carnival.

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