Monday, March 24, 2008

WE CARNIVAL - Priceless at Trinidad Carnival

By Antoinette Ifill

There is no dollar amount tantamount to the experience of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival; and as the Mastercard commercial goes it is indeed “priceless”. You can tally up the total amount of money spent to experience what is dubbed as The Greatest Show on Earth, however, you might be left with a feeling that Trinidad Carnival has now become one of the most expensive vacations ever.

With costumes averaging what some of us pay monthly for rent, fetes adding up to the equivalent of a second costume not to mention the never ending list of Carnival essentials that need to be purchased before getting on that plane some of us dare not do the math as we would then have to ask ourselves is there such a thing as “too much” when it comes to the love of Carnival. In spite of the glaring commercialism of this festival, there are still a few activities that one can enjoy in Trinidad and Tobago that will not break the strains of an already burdened wallet.

With a proliferation of Mas Camps in the Woodbrook area, namely between Rosalino and Gallus Streets, making a tour out of visiting each mas camp is an activity that will cost you nothing. The headquarters of TRIBE, Evolution, Mac Farlane Carnival, Trini Revellers, Pulse 8, Masquerade and Dream Team can all be found within the same block. At the mas camps, costumes are displayed for viewing, and one has a chance to observe these creations at leisure.

Woodford Square is the venue for a series of free mini concerts which take place every day at noon from January 21st to 25th, featuring Soca stars such as Peter C Lewis, Machel Montano, KMC, Bunj, Olatunji and Shurwayne Winchester. This very popular event draws a huge crowd so it is best to get there early and enjoy the same artistes that perform at all the various fetes, only you will not be spending a dime!

If a little bit of history is what you desire, check out the Traditional Street Characters Parade from Memorial Park through the streets of Port of Spain on Carnival Friday (February 1st). Accompanied by music and performers such as Moko Jumbies, this ode to mas of long ago features Dame Lorraine, Sailor, Fancy Indian and Pierrot Grenade among other characters and is an enjoyable and informative look at Carnival of the past.

When it comes to “pretty mas”, nothing is a greater spectacle than Kiddies Carnival where the children parade in costumed splendor. This event takes place on Carnival Saturday. With free spectator stands lining the route from downtown Port of Spain to the Queens Park Savannah, pack a picnic basket, walk with a hat, sit and enjoy the spectacle.

Maracas Beach is Trinidad’s premiere water playground, with a long sandy stretch of coconut lined sea front; this beach attracts locals in droves on the weekends. This is the ideal spot for a respite from the hectic pace of Carnival fetes. Enjoy the scenic drive through the rain forest and sample a culinary delight called “shark and bake” when you get there. If time allows, a quick visit to the sister island can easily be achieved for little expense by taking the 2 hour fast ferry, at just under $20.00 (CAN). The ferry departs Trinidad for Tobago in the early morning and returns in the late afternoon making a day trip possible.

It takes little to enjoy the strains of steel pan music from a Pan Yard, chipping down the road covered in mud at J’ouvert or enjoying an impromptu lime at the home of a friend. Take this advice, embrace all that is Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival and forge memorable adventures of your own, that are indeed priceless.

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