Tag Archives: Trinidad

Off de road, Trinidad Carnival 

So you’re on the side of the road watching this glorious event and you’re thinking… Will they ever stop? Do these energizer bunnies just drink their way through Port of Spain for 12 hours straight?! I’m sure there’s a few that do, but for the majority there’s a lunch stop included with your costume package. This year, I’m connected to the section called Bliss. Representing Bikini Cabana, I was the hairstylist provided for all touch ups, pin ups and extra love to help the girls feel refreshed before heading back out to the madness.  
First let’s walk around the lunch stop.  There was different venues providing food and drink options as well as a variety of promotional stands giving away complimentary gifts.  

 

The bathrooms? These were of higher quality and cleanliness than half the concerts I’ve been at in proper venues. I’m sure it makes pulling up the tights over sticky sweaty skin a bit easier(ish).

Now to our tent! This is inside before the sun kissed, bedazzled (slightly beat up) group arrived. My little section is on the right with two chairs, a steady table and an abundunce of hair product.

      

A quick wipe and mouth rinse, why not?! Chilled bottles of beer and Prosecco as well as ice-cream and water. Yes please! This is all of course in addition to the complimentary lunch options ranging from fish, meat, veggies and salads to basic sandwiches and snacks. 

  They’ve made it! Try to imagine for a quick minute how they must be feeling. A combination of excietment (they’ve waited a year for this!) exhaustion (walking and dancing for miles) overheated (we are in the Caribbean) giddy (playing all day in fun costumes with some of your best friends). Did I mention hungry? Now bottle all of that up and try it on for size! 

 Jumping over to my small part in this massive performance…     

     
While some were getting all dolled up, others were taking an appropriate cat nap. I can imagine this was their first opportunity to actually sleep since who knows, last Thursday maybe!? Check out the blistered heel, I’m sure this was just one of the thousands of battle scars acquired during the festival.

 Suited up, rested up and ready for de road!

  

As the last feathered headdress disappeared into the soca blasting streets, we were left with an empty tent, drops of Prosecco and some remaining cups of ice cream.  “We” being me and the amazing group from the restaurant Kato’s Place.  They were here and popular by demand do to the tub-o-bubbles they brought with them. Next time you’re in Trinidad please make time to check out the cool vibe, excellent service and top rated happy hour at their new joint! A huge thanks to my new friends, personal tour guides, Roti trying, Prosecco providing, all smiles of a crew! Samantha, Ashleigh, Tiffany and Shaq… Wouldn’t of been the same without ya!  

 
Another thank you to Vanessa and Bikini Cabana for the opportunity to be a part of this spectacular event! Looking forward to the next round! 

 

The greatest show on earth

Monday and Tuesday make up the grand finale of the previous weeks celebrating Carnival in Trinidad, “The greatest show on earth”. Costumes were distributed to the participants and they’ve been gearing up for the next 48 hours of prancing, dancing, drinking and eating (only if you dare while squeezed into those barely there bikinis). 

A house or hotel room this time of year typically has a few areas designated towards Carnival.  Costumes, clothes, drinks, coolers, and enough random wrist bands from all the parties to create a chain-link fence. Here we have bedazzled tanks and itty-bitty bikini bottoms being stretched over chairs, believe me from experience… It’s necessary. A makeup table that looks like a production off a movie set accompanied by enough hair product to open a salon. An abundance of jewels, beads, chains, art supplies and one hot glue gun for the universal fix-it tool.


Complimentary survival tray provided by the hostess. Jax, you’re amazing!  

Ooh and what did we find here? Sneak-a-nap between parties (with the Barbados flag in hand.. way to represent Clint!)

 

My contribution to this controlled chaos? Hair skills. I found myself behind the scenes for this magical time of year with the honor of making each hair client feel even more spectacular that they already are. Here’s a look at what my hands were doing while all of this was going on.    

 

Where did I find the space for these lovely ladies? Thanks to Vanessa at Bikini Cabana I was able to set up a make-shift salon connected to her store. Here’s a few examples of what they offer (especailly for the “Monday wear” described below). How I walked away without giving in and purchasing something is still beyond me.

Carnival Monday is less intense in regards to the length of time they parade the streets and the extent of the costumes.  The women create their own “Monday wear” by adjusting dresses, customizing swimsuits or simply rockin it raw and casual. Carnival Tuesday is the “full shibang” with head pieces, feathers, beads, diamonds and sparkles. The following is a mesh of both days, random sights, a variety of looks and too much fun. 

     

           
  For some of the most brilliant photos of these costumes, please visit the page of an upcoming photographer who captured the vibrance exuding from the day.  World, meet Keshav D. Ramnath!

Towards the end of the day, I took advantage of a different perspective. Where was I? My new friend Ashleigh is close with the owner of Studio, a hidden gem that happened to have a portion of the bands crossing right in front! Funky decor, happy people, Prosecco and a balcony view… Perfect! 

   They even offered complimentary tasty treats (enter a puckered up sarcastic face here).  These are salt prunes soaked in Tequila. I was keen for the Tequila, not so much the salty prune.  I’ve had worse, but I didn’t go back for seconds. 

As the better part of the day continued, the party didn’t quit. The music still echoed through the streets of Port of Spain as the participants went strong in full costume.  How did they manage to keep that gorgeous fresh look?  I’d personally like to take partial credit. My position on these days placed me at the lunch break in the Bliss tent. I was there for any girls request to touch up their lovely locks. In the following post you’ll get a glimpse of what you don’t see from the road. Courtesy of Bikini Cabana, I was able to be front and center in my favorite spot… Behind the chair! 

  

Above photo by Peter Sheppard
 

No alarm clock needed

Carnival in Trinidad is known as the “Greatest show on earth”. First off, it’s not just a day of parading around in eccentric costumes, it’s two full days of sunrise to sundown music, chipping, drinking, whining, dancing, laughing, eating and celebrating through the streets in Port of Spain. There’s not a pre-party, there are hundreds to choose from! From local fetes to raging events, concerts, fashion shows and pretty much any other reason to gather together.  I tell you Trinidadians have the stamina beyond that of what I’ve seen.  An Irishman might put you under drink for drink, but if you want to keep up around here, you have to match day to day, night tonight, back to back!
Although it seems to be an unspoken sin to fly all the way over here (with the other 240,000 international guests) and not participate, it’s what I’ve chosen to do. I came to Trinidad with the drive to do hair for the wonderful ladies of Carnival during these exciting days. With that said, I didn’t really partake in the extravaganza that is Carnival, so for this post I’m only going to highlight a few of the events leading up to the big days.
Lets start with the one and only that I attended (thank you Joe and Pumpkin!), called Revel. This is categorized as a cooler party meaning you bring your own ice-chest with drinks and enjoy the overall chilled energy. 

 

The venue is just outside the Queens Park Oval Cricket stadium in Port of Spain. A stage is set with two main areas, general admission and VIP. 

 

Before the crowd gathered I took a walk around to show you the layout. Here’s looking at the field then I did a 180 turn and stood with my back to the stadium looking at the entrance to the VIP section. 

 
Just beyond that gate is general admission where they sell food, drinks and give away things such as temporary tattoos, flyers and merchandise. If you’re anything of a soca fan, you’ll recognize the name below… Machel Montano. Yep, he was the performer on this evening!  

 

Back to the VIP side is where you’ll find, complementary food to nibble on and a clear view of the crowd amped for the main event… As well as the amazing people I came to join!

  
    
 

Show time! Heart pounding, hip thrusting, flag waving, energy elevating and nothing shy of purely entertaining (if you like the music or not) type of performance.

 
Care to hear a glimpse of the sounds that caused this entire audience to jump, wave their flags and shout along? I only had a point a shoot camera, but here’s a one minute video of Machel performing one of his hits, Like uh Boss! For more quality visuals and different songs, I suggest just googling his name.

Fun Fact:  Machel Monatano was my first concert in Barbados, check out that post called Dining and dancing the Bajan way.

Moving on to the next event. Keep in mind Revel (from above) went till dawn and the one you’re about to see was prepped at Dawn.  This country doesn’t sleep!

Down de islands, DDI, best fete, the one and only pre-Carnival party… Call it what you want but this is known as the must-do , don’t miss events of the week. I didn’t attend (you’ll see why in the next post) but I have been down de islands on a much smaller scale seen in Through the sea and down de islands.

Short and sweet- it’s a huge day full of music, boats, bikinis, drinks and energetic people that don’t appear as if they were out all night just hours ago. I chose my favorite picture to show you… Just a glimpse. 

 

So get this, Revel was Friday, DDI was Saturday and now we’re on to Sunday. For all my American football fans, imagine doing all of the above, then going to a Super Bowl Party (which they did) and then continuing on right through Carnival (which they did!) I tell you, their party drive is impressive. And yes, although some pick and choose, many people do all the fetes! 

Next up is J’ouvert. Now I know you’ve seen this, again just on a smaller scale. It’s a part of Cropover in Barbados as well.  Sneak a peak at those memorable days by clicking the link to dirty clean fun!

This is another evening I didn’t attend  (I know… I know!) but here’s what I did gather from the happy crew I was staying with.

A few photos I snagged before the bus took the group into the streets of mud and paint.  What a lovely clean bunch…

  

 
And then… The night passed and the sun came up.

   

So they’ve had weeks of parties leading up to a cooler fete, all day on boats in the sun, a Super Bowl party to all night playing in mud and paint and now? Now they have just a couple hours (if that) to wash off, dress up and get to the beginning of the 2 day Carnival parades. Can you beleive the lovely people from the night above transformed into the stunning stars below? Them and thousands of others traded in mud soaked skin for bedazzled bikinis and a fresh drink. Coming up… Carnival Monday! 

 

Heavy peppa please!

I’m going to be honest here and let you know that I’m finding it a bit challenging to organize the 10 days of Trinidad that I just experienced. It was a whirlwind from farms to fetes, food to new friends and a lot of work with a touch of play. 
I’ll start with my favorites which is of course is amazing friends and tasty food! Before you read on, I invite to jump over to the post from last year when I tried everything edible within reach. Just click this little link and you’ll see much more of what Trinidad has to offer!

Breakfast: What trip to this island would be complete without a double or three? Doubles are a common street delight that contains channa, an option of pepper sauce and a cucumber chutney. Here’s a photo of famous George and his stand. Note to self and others: Please try other doubles on this island as they range so much in flavor and texture. Joe, thank you for ordering me three separate kinds so I could try the variety of sauces and spices. Amazing friend you are!

  

 Here’s what I’ve found in regards to Trinidad and their pepper sauce. “No sauce” is obviously the most mild, “Slight peppa” is supposed to be spicy but tolerable and “heavy peppa” is rarely ordered due to the extreme kick. Because I’ve ordered heavy peppa several times and questioned if they forgot to even add it… I can only assume they went light for the visitor since “you don’t know Trini peppa”.  

Dear Trinidad, please follow through with your peppa threats… I like to sweat a little.



Feeling more for a green start to your day?  Option 2 is a farm in which invites you to walk, snoop, pick and eat straight from the vine (or in other words, my happy place). Welcome to U Pick vegetable farm and coffee shop!

 It’s a large open property located on Tucker Valley Road in Chaguaramas. There’s several green houses, rows of vegetables and my favorite part which was an indoor area that provides fruit, veggies, snacks and drinks. Lets work from the inside out. 

  

  If you’re similar to me, you’ll start selecting away until your arms are full and a staff member will politely (with a concerned look) offer you a bag or basket after you’ve almost dropped the melon. Here, they have creatively placed these adorable wagons for your shopping pleasure.  

Care to choose off the vine?  No problem!

 I was lucky enough to hop in the truck with Perry and head off to the corn fields. This immediately brought back memories of the post Can chickens smell a chicken? 

  If you ever find yourself on the green mountainous island of Trinidad, I highly suggest you make your way to this fresh farm, not only for your edibles, but an experience leaving you with a green thumb!

Lunch: I had a bundle of fresh fruit with me so I was in search of something to complement it. Look what I found! Homemade plain yogurt with crushed almonds and dates inside. I appreciated that there was no food coloring or artificial flavors. You could clearly taste the nutty enhancement from the crunchy almonds and the true flavor of the dates that were the only added sweetness to the combo.  Delicious! 

 

Dinner party (for the boys): Cards, drinks, meat and Mac pie.  

This wasn’t the Macpie that the restaurants slab on your plate, this was Auntie Linda’s homemade delight. I believe I gave her more entertainment than she expected as I jumped around the kitchen like paparazzi. I loved watching her try and contain the shy smile that so often smirked along her face. I asked her how many times she’s made this and her response was the same look you’d get from asking a surfer how many shorts they’ve owned or questioning the number of guitar picks a musician has jammed through… Uncountable.  

    
 

Now let me introduce you to my new friends (and dinner company) that so willingly took me under their wing in full determination to enhance my trip.  From left to right is Samantha, then Tiffany, Ashleigh and Shaq. Girls, it wouldn’t of been the same without you! (More events to come with these lovely ladies).

 My dinner with the girls above: Roti! Please notice there’s no microwave, ketchup bottles or machines around this stand. Just hard work, busy hands and real ingredients. In typical West Indies restaurants your options may include chicken, conch, goat, beef, shrimp and channa. Vegetables can also be added including potato, lentils, pumpkin, okra and spinach as well a variety of condiments like pepper sauce (hot sauce), a cucumber-cilantro(ish) sauce they call shado beni and a sweet chutney being the most popular. On the street, your options can be limited but never short of a tasty original Roti.

I ordered an all veggie with extra pumpkin and Ashleigh proceeded to get me a beef and potato to try as that’s more common around here. Perfect hosts if you ask me!
   

 It wouldn’t be right if you finished one of these with clean hands, so as a backpacker would, I raised my sauce covered fingers with (what I can imagine) a look of debate on my face. “Hmm, option A- wipe them on my pants. Option B- find a friend with a water bottle or… smile with pride when Ashleigh caught my attention”. She walked me over to complete my experience with the proper hand wash that most street Roti vendors offer. 

 

Midnight snack: (Of course typically taken on the way home after an evening of partying) On this night, we stopped for one of my favorite local flavors, Trini corn soup!  Every recipe is different but generally in contains corn, squash or pumkin, peppers, onion, garlic and spices.  Some venders will throw in dumplings and all will offer you pepper sauce and shado beni (the cucumber cilantro-ish item described above). Thank you Raj and Clint for treating me to this indulgence… And the friend who let me finish his.

 

Next post: The reason I’ve actually landed myself here in Trinidad.  Lookin forward to the beginning of fancy feathers, jewels, hairspray and hair play!

Do Trini’s speak English?

I’ve traveled over a small part of the Caribbean sea to experience what has been titled as “The best show on earth”.  If you’re familiar with the worldwide event of Carnival, you’ll know that I’ve landed in one of the top celebrated locations.  Welcome to Trinidad! Before we dive in to the controlled chaotic parties, elaborate costumes, all night events and some of the most energetic people on this planet… Lets meet the country first. If you’d like to see past detailed posts, click here and check out the land, food, adventure and culture. For now I’m just going to familiarize you with where the island is on the globe. 

 
Here’s a glimpse of its proportion to other parts of the world to give you an idea of the land size populating over 1.3 million people.

 Now for the fun part of this post! I often get asked “Do they speak English where you are?” Lets find out…

English Language: a west Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England; a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation.

Language used in Trinidad: Not English.

Trini slang:mixture of shortened words and phrases commonly used in daily communication.

Technically the language of Trinidad is English, however let me tell you that their verbiage is far from what the average English speaking person would recognize. Take a look at some of the phrases you may encounter while visiting the island of Trinidad. Here are just a few of my favorites!

Jus’ now – in a little while (5 minutes, a day, next week. Pretty much anytime except right now… Go figure)

One time – right now.  “Yuh come dis way one time” (I’d be like, just once? Really… That’s it… Never again?)

Jus’so – out of the blue

Lime – to hang out in a social setting “I feelin to lime”.

Fete a party… a big one with drinks, loud music and “nuff” (enough or a lot) people.  

Fuh true – in truth, for real. “Fuh true? You lie!”

Boomsie – the backside, bum, toosh, etc.

Shif yuh carcass – move over, get going

Sweet too bad –really nice, pleasant, attractive “Dred, dat gyul (girl) eh play she sweet too bad!”

Screw up yuh face – to make a face in disgust 

Vex – real angry “she make yuh rel vex, now yuh screw up yuh face”

Bacchanal (back-en-aul) – Scandal, heavy quarreling or a big party

Go doh make sheep -direct translation: “goat don’t make sheep” 

Bess – hot, attractive, sexy, appealing “ooh, she uh bess ting”

Maco (mah-coh) – someone who minds other people’s business; nosey

Awah – generally used at the end of a sentence in place of “or what” – “yuh limin, awah?”

Wha yuh for? –  “what do you want to do?

Dan dans – fancy clothes or dress up outfit


Words or phrases that you won’t hear in Trinidad:

The – If they even include it in a sentence it’s pronounce “dee” or “de”.

Examples:  “Yuh bring the punchy punch?”  Or “We goin down de islands”

Friend – Instead they refer to people close to them as family or they’ll use slang words.

Examples: Breddda (brother) Tanti (auntie) Hoss (“horse”, which in America would be “dawg”) Dred (friend) Gyul (girl)

Any word starting with “Th” is replaced with “D” or “T”– Try it, seriously any word. “Three” is tree & “Them” is dem.

Quick story a local friend told me.  When he was fifteen he was preparing to leave the island to go study in Canada.  Knowing the English language, his family tried to help (or just make fun) by having him repeat the number 3,333. It went like this:

“Tree thousand, tree hundred n thirty tree… No, Three thousand, tree hundred n tirty three… Ugh, THree THousand, THree hundred n tirty THree..”  You get the idea of why his family encouraged this entertainment. (Side note, he’s now one of the most successful business men on the island.  They call him the serial entrepreneur).

Pretty much any other word fully pronouciated – Sentences just don’t make sense or sound anything close to English.  A personal example was when I met a new friend here.

Him: “Ah hyar yuh livin dong by dey so?”

Me: “Uhh, I think I heard living… Say it again please?”

Him: (really slowly): “Haha, I say ahh hyyyar  yuh (as he points to me) livin dunnn by de so (as he points away)”.

Me: “Yeh, I got nothin”.

Turns out he had heard I was staying in Barbaods and was asking if it’s true. I still giggle over our entire interaction. 

Something I’ve learned in years of traveling is that pretending to know what someone is saying only leads to mass confusion and you looking “dotish” (stupid or like a foolish person). One time, smiling and nodding bought me a dozen hard boiled eggs and heavy cooking creme.  I was going for a dozen raw eggs and cottage cheese. Lesson learned.