Published: October 3rd 2009August 11th 2009
So glad we got to Grenada in time for Spice Mas! But it's not just all glitter and feathers, there is much, much more to Carnival.
Luckily we got to Grenada in time for Carnival, Spice Mas 2009- yohoo! Every island has Carnival at different times throughout the year and we were super excited to go to this one. Grenada’s Carnival is unique and we have heard tons of fabulous tales about past years from other cruisers. It is one of the few islands in the Caribbean that still use paint on J’Ouvert morning, the only island with a light parade, and it is the most friendly and fun Carnival because it encourages everyone to participate and be part of the debauchery. Just about everyone on the island, from young and old, partake in the festivities. And who could resist?!?! Not the Rum Runners, that’s for sure. But what makes this Carnival extra special for us is that our 17 year old niece, Alex, flew in for the party. We were so excited to share this once in a lifetime experience with her- it was a blast!
A common misperception is that Carnival is just a one day event, a grand parade with scantily dressed women in outlandish costumes of beads, glitter, and feathers. However the true Carnival experience is much, much more. Yes, there is
I think that Alex definately won the contest, "How many different colors of pain can you get?" on J'Ouvert.
the Grand Parade of Bands on Fat Tuesday. But the entire month building up to that is full of events and debauchery. On the music scene you have Soca and Calypso and Panorama competitions. Then you have the monarchy competitions, J’Ouvert morning, and Monday Night Mas on that final weekend building up to the Grand Parade on Tuesday. It truly is a non-stop party that starts with the Soca finals on Friday and continues on night and day over the long weekend, until the last costume is judged at the Parade of Bands on Tuesday afternoon. I honestly don’t know how anyone can participate in all of Carnival; it truly is a test of your endurance and commitment to party.
Knowing this, we decided that we would pick and choose what Carnival events we wanted to partake in. There was no way that we could do it all. So our Carnival experience started off with a bang at Panorama, the steel pan competition on Saturday night. We all hopped on a bus with a bunch of our friends and rode down to the National Stadium. There were 8 different bands competing this year- and all of them were extraordinary!
Alex getting paint from the Jab Jabs on J'Ouvert!
They ranged in size from 70 to 125 players. As always, I was impressed at how the sound of a steel drum changes when you combine it with hundreds of steel drums, transforming it into an orchestra. The music is lively and fun. The drummers play with so much energy, jumping around the stage and waving their banners. It really is quite a show!
Then we went home and rested up for J’Ouvert morning. J’Ouvert is literally translated to mean “day open” or morning. True to its word, this street party starts in the wee hours of Monday morning and peaks just after sunrise. So we struggled to wake up at 3:00 am. It was tough to get going, to wipe the sleep out of our eyes, and to hit the streets for the giant party which was already pulsating. Throngs of people were out. Similar to our Halloween, people dress up as mischievous devil characters wearing horns and carrying chains in the streets. But it is all in good fun. And then there are the Jab Jabs, who throw colored paint or mud or used motor oil into the crowd. Seriously, you got to watch out for the
The characters of J'Ouvert. But watch out, they are covered in used motor oil- gross!
“black paint” which is toxic oil- gross! But we had been forewarned about the paint and came prepared in some old, throw away clothes. We decided that if you can’t beat them, join them. So we got into the mix and were covered in paint by daybreak. It started off with red, then orange, then green, white and silver. It became a contest between us, how many colors can you get? I am pretty sure Alex won. It was a hoot! We had a great time at J’Ouvert, dancing in the street to the loud music and getting smeared in paint. It was probably our favorite experience at Carnival. But around 10:00 a.m. we were exhausted and decided to go back to the boat and get cleaned up and rested before the next party.
That night was Monday Night Mas, or the light parade. It truly is unique to Grenada; no other island has a light parade. Like all the events of Carnival, everyone is invited to participate. In fact, we got roped into joining a team as we were walking out of the marina. The light parade is composed of 4 different teams, sponsored by different companies in
The Three Amigos!
So glad that our niece we able to come out and experience carnival with us!
Grenada. All the teams have a theme, for example we were the wizards. But there was also a ship ahoy theme and a cabaret theme and a Hollywood theme. Each sponsor tries to get as many people to join the team as possible because the team with the most impressive light parade wins. When you join a team, you get a tee-shirt and all the lights and props to wear. So we had a blinking wizard hat, wands, and potion cups as well as lighted necklaces and bracelets. We were decked out like a Christmas tree! Then came time for the parade, we all gathered up with everyone on our team and marched along the streets of the Careenage. It is pretty impressive! There were over a thousand people dressed as wizards, all light up and blinking. And we weren’t even the largest team! It was another fun night. However we didn’t quite make it to the end. We were exhausted and decided to call it a day around 1:00 in the morning. It was a full day of debauchery, and we had started so early. Besides, we needed to rest up for the grand finale- the Parade of Bands.
Alex getting red paint from one of the revellers dressed as a devil.
Unfortunately we woke up on Tuesday morning to some miserable weather, it was pouring down rain and booming with thunder and lightening as a tropical storm was brewing. We were getting concerned… Do they cancel the parade if there is inclement weather??? Surely they have to. All those costumes, which are made with wire forms, would be destroyed in the rain. A flood of sequins and feathers. And for the first time ever in the history of Grenada, the Parade of Bands was postponed for the weekend. Bummer! It was quite a let down. So we had to gear back up on Saturday for the Grand Parade. But it was worth the wait. The costumes were amazing! Each team represented a different emotion; red was anger, blue was sadness, yellow was happiness, etc. We had a fabulous time watching the parade, words do it no justice. Be sure to check out all of the photos because pictures are really worth a thousand words, especially for this one. The Parade of Bands was truly a culmination of the Carnival celebration; I guess they do save the best for last!
There are more photos below