In Martinique, as in many parts of the Caribbean, there’s one word that’s being whispered more and more frequently right now: Car-ni-val!! Official and unofficial public holidays, costumes, Caribbean music, mass participation and dancing in the streets = my kind of party! With 5 days to go til Jouvert, the anticipation is in the air and I am not immune to it.
Once upon a time, when I woke up on a February Sunday morning in Port-of-Spain, it wasn’t exactly a regular Sunday. The day before I’d been watching the children’s carnival parade, and then been to a fabulous carnival fete (party/soirée) where I ate, drank and danced merrily in the company of fellow revellers to performances by some of the biggest soca artists Trinidad and Tobago had to offer. Blaxx was my favourite, but Destra had put on such a fantastic performance at Soca Monarch two nights previously I feel the need to give her a shout out too. The party was Penny’s Annual Bash. A former Miss World/Universe and a born-and-raised Trini, her fete was a classy affair, and the only place I consumed wine and champagne with my three course meal that came with the ticket. I was due to leave Penny’s a little early to head to the steel pan finals (carnival’s brilliance is because at the heart of the festivities are the competitions), but we got caught up in the good time…
The other irregular thing about this particular Sunday morning alarm, was the time. It was 3am. It was dark. I was waking up in the middle of the night deliberately. To go to a party. Yes. I was definitely in Trinidad, for carnival. Continue reading →
Apparently, I’m a romantic. I don’t think it’s asking too much for a young man to put some thought into how he keeps my attention. I’m not against a little effort, or being impressed. It’s not that I’m into insincerity and sweet nothings. I simply believe that if life is to be lived abundantly, then matters of the heart should involve some involuntary fluttering. And frankly, on a lush tropical island, it is not exceedingly difficult to woo a romantic; breathtaking views are the norm, atmosphere is everywhere and a little creativity can go a really long way at literally no cost.
As a young, single woman with a cute English accent (although I didn’t know that ’til much later) from abroad I was bound to be a curiosity (read: fresh blood) when I moved to the French Caribbean. And I was semi-mentally prepared for it. In addition, as with the approach of summer in temperate countries, I had the swinging hips of a woman liberated from her winter wardrobe with suitcases of new light and colourful clothes to enjoy. Continue reading →
Cruise Ship Arriving in Fort-de-France (Photo credit: rustinpc)
I type this laptop on knees, sitting on the bed with my unpacked suitcase underneath the bed-edge I am perched on. Speaking of perches, the sunlight is slightly streaming through the frosted ice shutter-style windows in my bedroom whose name I can’t for the life of me remember right now and the birds are just singing away, somehow adding to my tranquil Caribbean vibes. And At 1’o’clock, I can see my laundry basket looking slighty full. I hope there’s nothing in it I was planning to wear. I am in pyjamas and the boat leaves in 4 hours. I should be packing as I type this.
But I continue to type because I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by my own adventures recently and if you’re a regular reader, I thought I should update you. Truth be told, I didn’t know I had any regular readers but one of my friends was like, hey you haven’t blogged for a while, which was basically the nicest thing anybody had said to me all day. Like, somebody noticed??? Awwww…
Okay, since I am supposed to be packing, and there are no buses as today’s ferie, and I am gonna have to beg for a ride to the port if I don’t move so I can pick up one of the buses leaving hourly from round the corner…unless I want to hitchhike which is usually an incredibly effective form of transport but may not be if it’s a Bank Holiday (sorry, that’s what ferie means…I’m too rushed to recall where the accents are on this but it’s feri-e in case you were wondering…) and everyone’s chiling in their houses. This is my life.
Shooting from one adventure the next, trying to take it all in, working out the logistics as I go along, and hoping I don’t miss the boat. Continue reading →
On a Saturday morning not so long ago, I had to think hard to answer a question which had come to me as if in a dream; ‘Is Carnival in Port-of-Spain possibly one of the very best things about being alive?’ The short answer is hell yes. Especially if you like dancing, soca music, drinking rum, liming, being around people, or more precisely around hundreds of other people who share these interests with you. If you also believe that the best location for these activities are the streets, i.e. public rather than private spaces, Caribbean carnival my friend, is for you. Continue reading →
Notting Hill Carnival 2006 (London, UK) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Soooo…my first experience of Carnival in Martinique takes place the same day that the French government passes a law permitting gay couples to marry and adopt children. I have yet to see this on a news site but multiple people mentioning it plus a sermon about how God instituted marriage to be between a man and a woman the following day have convinced me that it’s true. In case you didn’t know, here’s links in French (more authentic innit), and in English.
In case you’re wondering about the connection, seeing is believing. As I’m not planning to be in Martinique for the official two days of carnival next week, I’ve been curious to know what I will be missing. It’s a curious twist of fate (slash me taking every piece of holiday time literally) that despite two carnival-time séjours in the French Caribbean, and being somewhat religious about participating in London’s annual Notting Hill Carnival (and the biggest festival in Europe fyi) I’ve never experienced Carnival à la Martinique, Guadeloupe or Guyane.
I wonder if, as a Londoner born and bred, it doesn’t feel like Carnival Time. My whole life, Carnival has been at the end of August, Carnival Monday is a day off work, and regular revellers know to book the Tuesday off to recover. All summer long you’re outdoors; in the park, having BBQs, celebrating the appearance of sunshine, good vibes are buzzing like unendangered bees, and London is the best place in the whole world to be alive from May – September pretty much. Carnival is the official closing of summer in London. The Thames Festival wants to be, but no one’s heard of it (sadly, it’s actually good. I blame Boris). Continue reading →
and ‘getting left behind’ are supposed to be feelings inculcated in your loved ones by your departure to (hopefully sunnier) climes when you move abroad. You’re off having the adventure of a lifetime and they’re stuck at home doing the same thing they were doing before you left, only with a new wound of your departure, and the salt of the tales of your adventures as you write home. The traditional postcard note ‘wish you were here’ is supposed to denote that you’re having the time of your life and you wish they could be sharing it with you. That’s what you tell yourself when you leave your loved ones behind anywho.
Alas that’s not really how it works. And I just got my first major sting.
When you leave for an extended period of time and are consumed with all the adventures you’ll be having, you can forget that well, life will continue without you. Continue reading →