Tag Archives: carnival

The Hills are Alive…

I should change the name of 3limes to The Dark Journals. Once again I am writing by candle light in a power cut. In his overly optimistic fashion, the same happy slant that proves him to never be a weather man; he has a tendency to deny rain even when it is pouring on his shoulders, my sweet man thinks power cuts are “good “ for us. They give us a different perspective, shake up our comfort zones. I argue that my comfort zone is plenty shaken, thanks very much and the last thing I need is a life lived by candle light. I laugh when I hark back to the days when candles were an accessory, something to add atmosphere to a room. Now they are essential ingredients for a functioning life.

Trinidad is hopping with near naked girls, the rum is flowing, the Soca is loud, the streets are alive with an energy that is one of a kind. It is Carnival.

Canadians have their chests puffed out with pride, they are tossing red and white flags and scarves in the air and celebrating the Winter Olympics. Small children are dreaming about Bobsleds and Hot Dogs and Moguls, Gold is glinting in the eye of every Canuck.

Meanwhile we have our own celebrations going on.

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music here in Kampala. The organization know as KADS ( Kampala Amateur Dramatic Society) is putting on a production of Maria and her singing nuns. This movie just so happens to be one of my favorite things, so off we toddled to audition. By us, of course I mean my daughters. Wednesday after school, there they were, raisons in my bun, on stage singing, smiling, projecting their voices and looking all very thespian. Saturday, after receiving the call backs to return for a second audition, we go back again, but this time we drag handsome husband along for good luck. The Saturday Sessions were far more scary as they took place on the main stage in front of dozens of people. Turns out, there were 70 kids going for 13 parts. ( They were doing a double cast for the children.) It was a ton of fun, great laughs, bravery and back clapping all round, and then we pushed Handsome Husband on to the stage.

“Go on!” We urged. “It’ll be fun. You can be a Soldier!”

Next thing I saw he was up there with his charming accent singing Doe a Deer in French and making the KADS women slightly weak in their knees. Where did this man come from? He had never been on a stage in his life and here he was as comfortable as a Canadian in the snow.

A few hours later I get the call.

“ We wanted to ask, before sending out the emails. We want to select one of your daughters but not the other. Will this be a problem?”

Perhaps some mothers in a misguided attempt to save their children from any disappointment would have politely declined the opportunity. I am of the firm belief that disappointment is a certainty in this life, and it is a fine idea to get used to it early on.

Still, it was hard,

Trooper was to be left out, Princess was in.

And so was the Handsome man I live with. Otherwise known as Admiral Schreiber.

Rain drops and roses….


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Filed under Family Stuff, I have two girls

Trinidad, Je t’aime.

The Bloggie nomination has sent me spinning into cyber space to check out and discover new blogs. Blogging is a funny business isn’t it? Sort of like a club that all the people not in, don’t get. When I tell people that I have a blog, and surprisingly I don’t tell people that often, I get a funny look. One day a friend of mine explained the prejudice people who are not in the know feel towards blogs and bloggers. There is a feeling that we are a navel gazing, conceited arrogant lot who assume everyone is interested in us. Then once they start to have a read they begin to understand.

I started this blog back in 2008 in Trinidad. I was seeing and experiencing so much over there; I felt if I didn’t get it down, somewhere , I would burst. The result was that I loved and enjoyed Trinidad so much more knowing that I was now looking to write and collect stories, and Trinidad in turn inspired me more than ever. Blogging became an online travel diary of sorts, a place to try and capture what I was seeing with my eyes.

I strove to find a balance between the personal and the quietly observed. I was never going to be the writer that would reveal my whole life, warts, prickly bits, and all.  And I was careful to never use this as a forum for whining or examining my navel too much. Over time I found myself inserting teaching posts, post about my kids and the personal price of upheaving a family and moving across the world twice in 3 years. But the main subject has always been the country where I am living and rereading some of those Trini posts has made me think a lot about that special island.  It is a place of colour, character and culture and the people have Personality with a capital P. It is a shock to all of us how much we really miss Trinidad. I don’t imagine we thought it would get under our skin the way it did after only 2 years. Yet it has and with Carnival only 19 days away I can imagine the spirit and excitement all over Port of Spain. I can sense the frisson and shiver in the air around the Savannah as the stage is erected and all those girls getting ready to don sparkly bikinis and feathers jog past the coconut sellers, getting fit and in shape. I could wax lyrical and get soft and nostalgic, but, no whining allowed. Let me just say three simple words:

Maracas, Doubles, Mango Chow.

I could do with a little Trini spirt over here.

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Filed under Travel, Trinidad & Tobago

Tidbits

I’ve learnt a lot over these past few weeks. Apart from everything in Mr Bryson’s book,I have also had an education of a different sort. I like to wake up and hopefully learn something everyday. I don’t mean in a cheesy, learn to love your neighbour way at all. No I mean about anything. I like hearing about stuff all the time. The following information is gleaned from a dinner party, attending Carnival Tuesday, going to TGI Friday, watching the BBC news, reading blogs and watching 25 episodes of Brothers and Sisters. 

 

1. Having someone lend you a whole two seasons of a great show that you’ve always wanted to see is a great gift. I love these characters, they are beginning to become real and if this continues I might need professional help. Have I learnt anything from the show? How so many people can be really attractive without really being that attractive at all. This is no Gossip Girl. These are real looking, better than average people with really good lighting. I have also learnt, once again, to appreciate that good TV is all about the writers.

2. The way that oil companies find oil is to drag a huge ultra sound machine along the sea bed, carefully managing to avoid whales. Sonic seiser wave thingies detect the rocks and earth’s innards and the wavy lines on paper are poured over by expats in Trinidad.

3. Very large women with very very large bodies play carnival and they are fantastic.

4. Never order a Caesar salad from TGI Friday’s in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

5. There are people living in cardboard boxes in Italy. These people are illegal immigrants and have been living up to 4 months in a community of cardboard dwellers. They are freezing cold, have no sanitation and cook with fire. 

6. I was told, upon hearing that I am moving to Uganda, that when I first see a giraffe I’ll be shocked by its height.

7. Most dinosaurs were as small as rabbits. (I must have known this and just forgotten. That is the great fun of learning these things all over again.)

8. That whole crazy blip in my brain that makes me think about food all the time is presently switched off. It is wonderful.

9. Growing up is realizing that even if you are not the best, you are not that bad.

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Filed under observations

Just luvin’ that Carnival feeling

The streets are being swept today and most of the city is back to normal but there is a glow in everyone’s eyes and the memories of Carnival can be felt in the facebook videos, comments and pictures, the smile of a waitress, the front of the paper. Photos are being poured over and everyone is excited to relive the day. So in that merry vein I am posting more photos from yesterday.

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The photo below is by my 9 year old, daughter. Good huh?

 

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She loved those costumes!

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Filed under Family Stuff, Photography, Trinidad & Tobago

A Carnival lime

It is going to take more than one post to showcase Carnival Tuesday here in Port of Spain. Our day started early; we were downtown, parked and already on a street corner taking photographs by 8am and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Early in the morning, before too much rum has sunk in and too much loud Soca has driven the masses wild, Carnival is still about the beauty of costume, the celebration of dance and freedom. By 3pm (judging by what we saw on TV and the stories we heard) things had turned a funny shade of wild.

Carnival is divided into Mas Bands, and each Band has a different theme ranging from Africa, China, Birds of a Feather and Persia. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before, and while I am still glad that I didn’t play in a band, I am so happy that we had the occasion to see, feel and experience a little of what is Carnival. It is an extraordinary display of frenzied dancing, music so loud your heart thumps along, and all encompassing joy.  People of all shapes, sizes and age put their lives on hold and dance joy into every fibre of their bodies.

 

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Filed under Photography, Trinidad & Tobago

Feathers, twinkles and ear plugs

Let me introduce to you the Carnival costume that I will Not be wearing on Monday and Tuesday.

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And just in case you are curious, I won’t be wearing this one either.

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Carnival has come around again. This time last year we were heading off to Bequia but this time we are staying put. However, I am still not keen on adorning myself in feathers and sequins and rubbing myself all over strange men, and I don’t like Rum and I don’t have ear plugs deep enough to drown out the loud Soca and I just am not into the whole gyrating in a bikini for two days sort of thang. Call me mad, and many do, but I am going to stand on the sidelines and photograph the event and report back to you here. The convenient thing about being a photographer is that I am secure in my position of Observer.
I did manage to get in my own little Fete at school where some well known Soca stars came over to jump up and down on the stage and cause the little ‘uns to put fingers in their ears and the big ‘uns to go crazy for some guy called Kes who is apparently SO HOT. Even the teachers were shaking hips and waving bandanas and generally having a great time. It was a truly Trini School event.

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The following day was Jump Up which means the whole school danced in a field to loud music and drummed up Carnival spirit in anticipation of the Carnival break. Each Elementary and Middle school class had its own band which involved sparkles and face paint, blue bodies, fairy wings and in some occasions, silver high heeled boots.

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We were also lucky enough to have a member of Kiddie Carnival which is when children get professionally dolled up in extraordinary costumes.  

 

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Carnival kicks of Sunday evening with J’ouvert ( from the French, J’ouvert, which means, I open.) and that is an all night, paint splattering kind of event. Monday morning is the first day to go “chippin'” down the road but Tuesday is the Main Event when all the bands will be judged for smallest, sparkliest and most exquisite costumes.

I will be there, camera in hand, but the only sparkle I will wear will be my new silver sparkle eyeliner.

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Filed under Miss Teacher, Photography, Trinidad & Tobago

Leaving Carnival behind

Leaving Trinidad at Carnival time is considered a huge faux pas. After all, how can you miss the biggest party in the world and the best that Trinidad has to offer? Carnival is a loud bacchanal of color, skin, music and costume. For two days people dance and “wine” in the streets before the austerity of lent sets in. We decided to do exactly the opposite and headed off to Bequia, a tiny island in the Grenadines for 4 days.  Bequia is off the beaten path. Although, if your path is one sailed then it is most definitely on the path. The tiny harbour is filled with sailboats of all sizes ranging from large chartered boats sailing the Grenadines to families who have left their lives for a year or more and are sailing the world. We met one such family who were on the Atlantic Arc and were home schooling their three children aboard their boat for a year.

Bequia is only 7 miles long and 3 miles wide and taxis are either small speed boats or jeeps with open backs. It is a magical place. Between aging hippies playing backgammon, sailors loading up with fuel, gourmet supplies and checking their emails at the internet café there are travelers and families looking to pause for a few days and forget the race of life. The pace is so slow it took a day to slow my pulse down until it was barely there. The airport is miniscule so most people take the 1 hour ferry from St. Vincent. St. Vincent also has a tiny airport, so tiny that flights only come in from the Caribbean. As the ferry approached Bequia, the first island in the chain of emerald islands that makes up the Grenadines, I thought it was uninhabited until we turned a corner and saw the little harbour dotted with boats and the coloured roofs of small homes.

It is easy to see how someone could fall off the speeding wagon we call the rat race and come rolling to a stop in a place like Bequia. Our needs suddenly become very small when witnessed from a hill top over three bays and water the colour of pale lapis. As sometimes happens when I listen to a piece of music so beautiful my skin is raised I was touched by the beauty of this simple place.

The only time my system was shocked was when, in the middle of the night, I was greeted in the bathroom by a spider so huge I instantly believed it must be a Tarantula. I didn’t take the time to assess how hairy its legs were. All I knew was that I had to sit for a moment and I didn’t want to look at that creature. I placed three towels over it and hoped it wouldn’t escape. I crawled back into bed and woke up my husband to tell him that we had an uninvited guest. He grunted and turned over and I was left with my thoughts. Of course my daughters thought she was beautiful and promptly named her Gertrude. How did I, the one with the paranormal fear of creatures have two girls so fond of bugs?

I have a theory that people who can see the horizon are happier. Just as I believe that people who speak Spanish are more beautiful, I believe this fact like an uncontested truth. We need to be able to see as far as the eye can see. If our view is always obstructed by concrete or brick we cannot feel the full potential of our eyesight. Although perhaps when we can see too far we are no longer hidden by our protective distractions. We are forced to be honest with ourselves.

Bequia created within me a longing to be on a boat. Unfortunately at the same time as this longing arrived I was watching my poor husband empty his belly over the side of a boat. Just a few minutes from the main harbour is a pretty snorkelling spot and despite the short distance it proved too long a trip for him. Likewise on the ferry back to St. Vincent I watched as he struggled with the nausea that plagued him for the whole hour. I already knew before hand that I couldn’t handle moving objects and had taken strong pills. After all, once you have filled a paper bag on a 747 you are never quite safe again. He, on the other hand tried to brave it out. He is now having second thoughts about our intended sailing trip planned for next year. The idea of being on a boat is endlessly fascinating. The perspective of the world is entirely unique, it harks back to the way most of the world was discovered and yet despite the open horizon all around one is trapped with nowhere to run, drive, walk or escape an annoying spouse or child. I have the greatest respect for those families that survive a year on a boat together. Surrounded by so many sailors, I felt the idea quite captivating. We shall see how long that idea germinates and whether it ever sprouts.

So did I make the right choice? It was certainly a different view than I would have had on the streets of Port of Spain. The tassels on those bikini costumes shake quite fast, the bottoms of those women do spin, the men, cut like sharp but warm tools press against those women in a frenzy of simulated sex. The rum flows, the music thumps and the heat bores down until all inhibitions are lost. Driving home from the airport we saw bejewelled and costumed men and women, tired feet and feathers array trying to get home.  We looked out of the window, fascinated as if we had just arrived from another planet and been dropped at the end of the biggest party in the world. I suppose we had. As we looked the calmness sat in me. I could still see the horizon.

 

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Filed under Travel, Trinidad & Tobago