"Truck on De Road"
I knew how to wine, but I sure as hell didn’t know what chip and wine meant. By the end of day five and I’m sure over 30 miles later, I could chip and wine circles around Trinidad. Trinidad and Tobago, to date, is one of my favorite countries visited……
To put you on notice, be sure to be careful of unwarranted “taxi drivers” when flying into Port of Spain. Look for official taxi drivers.
We found lodging in the authentic neighborhood of St. James. Predating Airbnb, we were able to score a home that a native rents out during Carnival. The house was awesome as it provided an experience that a hotel couldn’t (plus T&T doesn't have that many hotels as they don’t cater to tourist other than carnival). In the mornings, our neighbors cooked for us, salt fish and eggs. Our shower was semi outside, with an amazing view (who gets to say that).
Because we had such an amazing chauffeur for the week, we got to see things that other tourist couldn’t. Driving alongside of a mountain was pretty scary, however the views were some of the best. We also went to a local Trinidadian beach, where the local children frolicked and played soccer. Curry crabs, bake and shark, roti and jerk chicken were on the menu during our stay. Jerk Chicken served alongside of Ariapita Ave was tres bon! We, also, tried things such as pineapple chow and tamarind, not so appetizing, but hey, when in Rome!
We caught a roundtrip flight to Tobago for about $50 RT and flight time didn’t exceed 30 mins. Tobago provided a more touristy experience as the beaches have food vendors, locals soliciting water sports and cabanas to lie out under. We grabbed some jet skis from a few locals, who were generous enough to ride out with us. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my trip, maybe because I long the day to own my own jet ski. We rode out to a shallow place in the middle of the ocean where we hopped off the skis and covered our skin in the, what was said to be, exfoliating sand not to mention a small peninsula where locals hosted barbeques and fished.
Before I go any further, here’s some supplemental info:
Chip and wine: The act of walking as you wine it up to your favorite soca music.
Fete: A party or music festival typically to include a live performance.
Play Mas: Mas being short for Masquerade. The act of individuals dressed in costumes assigned to various bands dancing to soca and the beat of steel pan drums.
Band: A group of Individuals dressed in colorful costumes that play mas and attend jouvert together.
Jouvert: themed-party celebrated the early morning of Monday Mas.
Carnival is like nothing else, especially when you full on participate in the many activities. Fetes, Jouvert, Mas and so much more raving in the streets, there’s literally no time to sleep. Carnival is celebrated each year on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday in additional to a plethora of fetes leading up to Carnival Tuesday. Beyond the present day celebration, Carnival is an event that provides a rich history, referencing back to the Motherland. Jouvert was one of my favorite events, we chose paint, but we had a selection of chocolate, oil or mud. The party began around 2am; you take to the streets with your band behind a Truck on De Road. Five hours later, sights of the sunrise, and a mile down the road, you find yourself a bit intoxicated, covered with paint. Epic!
Monday Mas, which didn’t allow for any sleep after Jouvert, was a celebration where most wear a piece of their Mas costume. We chose our necklaces. We didn’t spend too much time out as it was HOT, we spent time sleeping and hydrating for what would be a long Carnival Tuesday. Before we know it, Carnival Tuesday was upon us and we PARTIED; we danced in the streets and talked to people from all over the world from the early morning until 10pm, when the city shuts down. Literally it shuts downs, as if the streets were not flooded with drunken, dancing bodies for the previous seven days. I love Carnival for the simple fact that no one is concerned about the next guy and their opinion. It is all LOVE, so many shades and flavors.
To date, Carnival was one of my most expensive vacations to plan for, but being on the island didn’t require much spending. I will chalk many of my expenses up as just not knowing how to properly finesse cost as I know how now. Word of advice, if you know of a place/event you want to visit and it may even be months out, take advantage of buying a cheap flight early, better yet catching a fare deal. You’ll thank yourself in the long run. Don’t put it off, go!