I previously stated how the music genre varies as the seasons change. However, in the tropics, the seasons are a little different. So instead, beginning in February, Soca music is starting to be played almost exclusively in preparation for Carnival in July. This time around, I was enjoying the carnival spirit a little more. I knew a little bit more of what to expect, and this year I was going to “play mas”.
When the carnival season was gearing up last year, I was still relatively new to all that was Vincy Mas. I didn’t fully appreciate the music, mostly because I couldn’t understand any of it, and I didn’t participate in only a few of the carnival events. With a full year under my belt, I found myself singing along to the songs this year, even bustin a whine (ha!), and getting into the carnival spirit. I was invited to play mas, which entails parading around town on Mardi Gras/Carnival Tuesday in a very skimpy, very beaded and flashy bikini, and a wild feather headdress, with my closest Vincy friend and her friends. In addition, one of my best friends from college was coming to visit, to experience Vincy’s most important cultural event of the year. Another friend from college who had been traveling throughout Asia and the Middle East for the previous 3 months, decided to meet up with us and stop in SVG before returning home to the States.
It could not have been a better group of friends to have come visit during this very exciting week long party. Who better than my college partner in crime to experience 4 days of non-stop drinking/dancing/partying? While she didn’t get to see much of the country I now call home, she did enjoy carnival, which was the primary reason for her coming when she did. Nick arrived ahead of Rose and got to see most of the key “tourist” destinations on the island. These adventures also resulted in my phone mashing up, but only after I realized that the phone company shut off my phone because I failed to pay my bill on time. I guess I wasn’t able to manage my money with all the carnival activities. So in the end, not having a working phone didn’t matter much, when I couldn’t actually make phone calls. Although, what a week to not have a phone!
Anyways, once Rose arrived we promptly began the carnival festivities. First we had to pick up our costumes. We then went back to town for a concert. However, after traveling for so long, due to the remoteness of SVG and customs issues in Trinidad, she was beat so we decided to rest up for the next few days’ activities. Boy am I glad we did. The next day we relaxed around my house in preparation for J’Ouvert that night, cooked some authentic Vincy food, and explored my community a little bit. Later in the evening we headed to town for J’Ouvert, a street party starting late at night, whereby you pour paint all over yourself, your friends, and strangers, while dancing to Soca music, drinking rum or Hairoun into the late morning. By the end of it, we were completely covered in paint from head to toe, I mashed up both my shoes and subsequently had to walk home barefoot. By the time we got home, bathed, tried to remove all the paint, cooked, ate, and got ready to go back to town in the afternoon, there was barely any time for a nap. We set off down the road for a van again in the early afternoon, only hours after returning home from J’Ouvert, for the T-shirt band jump up.
The jump up is another street party involving drinking, dancing, and parading around Town. A lot of revelers purchase T-shirts for particular “bands” which allows you unlimited drinks (if you can get them). When you purchase your T-shirt you also receive a water bottle and bandana; the water bottle to fill with beer that is handed out from pick-up trucks, and the bandana to protect your hair from the rain that will inevitably come, or in my case to wipe the sweat you produce from dancing so hard. It was nearly impossible to get your bottle filled, as the truck was continuously moving and constantly swarmed by people also trying to get their bottles filled. To get your bottle filled you needed to shove your bottle in one of the guys giving out the beer’s face and hope that they chose yours to fill. Luckily?, one of my students was dispensing the beer, so he gave me first priority. That sure doesn’t happen in the States.
Surprisingly, we lasted pretty late into the night, despite running on little, if any, sleep. Unfortunately, since it was so late, vans were scarce, or already full. We had to walk pretty far out of Town before we could catch a van. The next morning was what we had all been waiting for: Vincy Mas.