LETTER from Heidi & Eivind_______CARNIVAL (25.03.2006)
Before J´Ouvert
After J´Ouvert...- tired and dirty


After a short trip from Tobago , with downwind sailing, and the current 2 knots from behind, we arrived Chaguaramas, Trinidad .. Bjørnar and Peder (soon 4 years), embarked at Tobago . One day with bathing and a lovely reunion with “Snorre” and Maggen and Helge, were all they got before Snorre sailed north, and we headed for Trinidad . We were ready for Carnival at Trinidad .
Chaguaramas is a popular harbour. It is a (pretty) safe place to anchor if going in to Port of Spain to see the Carnival. It is also the PLACE, if you need to fix something at your boat. You will find 10 different marina's, up to 200 tons boat-lift and all the merchandise you look for to your boat.

Vanvara and Don't Worry were already at moorings in Chaguaramas when we got there. Even though it was several days until the Carnival start, it was not much room for us to anchor. A changing current and terrible anchor bottom, forced us to keep a good distance to others. Even with the wind steady from east, the boats often were spread out with the bow in all directions.
Before Empire arrived Chaguaramas, Vanvara had taken care of getting tickets to several of the happenings before and under the Carnival. Our first Carnival-happening was a tour to 3 different “Mas Camps”. Every “Band” has its own “Mas Camp”. Here they design and produce their own costumes. It was interesting to look behind the curtain, and to see how much work the Trini's really put into the preparations for the Carnival.

A simple Carnival costume has a cost of 1.500 NOK and up. The big Queen and King costumes you can't buy, but they have a production coast of 100.000 NOK or more. Carnival at Trinindad is ”big business”. The planning of next years Carnival already starts a few weeks after this years Carnival. The production of the costumes and so, starts half a year in advance. We also visited three different “Pan Yards” in Port of Spain . A “Pan Yard” is a training area for the Steel Band Orchestra, and they are open to the public- The Steel Bands vried from some more than 20 to over 100 participants. We were really fascinated of the rhythm and movement of the players, and of the sound from the steel drums.
We had been looking forward to the Queen and King Competition. It was 10 giant Queens- and 10 giant Kings costumes, that were carried or rolled or dragged over the stage. One more glorious than the other. We enjoyed the first round of the contest. The second round was after the Calypso competition, which was in between. The Calypso competition in between, was so long that we got enough. And you have to be local, to enjoy the Calypso fully.
The Calypso is a mix of song and speech, containing subjects from politics, economy, and the criminal situation and more. This way of communicate a message was obtained at that time the slaves were not allowed to speak to each other while they were working. With this Calypso song they could communicate the latest news and gossip.
After the long evening with Queen and King and the Calypso competition we were transported back to Chaguaramas. Peder was already at sleep, and we were all tired.

Anne and Jørgen from Vanvara, and Elisabeth and Anders from Don't Worry, and Bjørnar from Empire, had a short break before the “J'ouvert”. At 0230 they were picked up at Chaguaramas again. The “J'ouvert” starts 0400. J'ouvert is marking the start of the real Carnival. The “J'ouvert”, or “Dirty Mas” is a party, starting at 0400, lasting until noon or longer the next day. All participants paint each other with paint and mud, while parading through the streets of Port of Spain . And it of course includes good drinking, dance and loud music.
“Our” participants were all participating in a local “band”. The band had their own music truck, their own toilet truck, their own bar truck and their own security people following all the way. It was an exciting and memorable adventure. They were all exhausted when it came to an end, after kilometres with dancing through Port of Spain .
The big day of the Carnival is the day before Ash Wednesday. The streets of Port of Spain are again filled with dancing people in their best carnival costumes from early morning hours. We found a nice place to see the parades from, under the shade of a beer tent. The SOCA music filled the air from enormous loudspeakers on several trucks. And of course DJ's put the music together. The streets were filled with beautiful costumes and several nearly naked well trained bodies. Well – it was not only well trained bodies…
We had great Carnival days together with Vanvara and Don't Worry and Bjørnar in Trinidad . We also got the time to other than Carnival.

The security problem of Trinidad is a big issue. Girls should not go shopping alone, for instance. One day the female part of the crew of Vanvara, Don't Worry and Empire went shopping, with Bjørnar as bodyguard. It feels safe to be around here, but there is no reason to take unnecessary risks. The girls had no problem hiring Bjørnar as a bodyguard. They just tempted him with fresh boat-baked whole wheat bread. The girls ended the night onboard Empire, with solving world problems until the early hours.
We also got the time to visit Chaguaramas Military History & Aerospace Museum . This museum was something between a wreck yard and the worlds best playground. Outside there were planes, helicopters amphibious vehicles, submarine simulator and a dummy military tanks. And there were no signs saying “ Do not touch”…! We tested all of the outdoor items, and found them all not functioning.

Bjørnar left us after the Carnival, but he will be back at the end of April. Together with Vanvara we headed of from Chaguaramas, setting the bow towards Los Testigos and Isla de Margarita , Venezuela .

Eivind had to examine the submarine-things thourougly, of course...

Jørgen in one of many vehicles at the Military Museum.

Peder's favorite...