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Published: March 19th 2019
Listen up y'all, what we have here is an extraordinarily special public event for which the entire nation is famed. It takes place once in the annual calendar, but preparations for it occupy the main bulk of time in between, and by the time the event is upon us, nobody has any right to hold back on the celebrations - folks, it's time to usher in the multiple tropical-coated delights of Trinidad carnival! Needless to say, flight and hotel bookings need to be made as far in advance as possible in order not to fall into the trap of inflated prices and limited selection, and then, for all the budding up-for-anything participants, it is time to go online and take your pick from the variety of mas(querade) bands on offer so as to be able to select a group of revellers whose theme and price bracket suits you the most, and then set about creating your own vision of carnival in line with the expected run of events which carnival Monday and Tuesday will bestow upon all spectators and masqueraders. The general rule of thumb here is to just roll with the Trini vibes BIG time, as any elements of reservation,
skepticism or 'missing the point' style mentality will leave you hopelessly marginalized in a realm in which celebration of life in the form of outstanding pageantry is very clearly the order of the day. As one might already acknowledge, music, dance and costume-showcasing is going to be the focal point of all things carnival, though expect that to be wrapped up in a realm of skin-to-skin contact, feeling the vibrant pulse, locking into a groove, and finding that vital balance between capturing the highlights on film, and pocketing the camera(s) for the sake of bouncing around hedonistically in what could easily be the most free-spirited context of existence you have ever experienced to date. Port of Spain is Trinidad and Tobago's prime location for carnival, though it does take place, albeit on a smaller scale in other towns, just to prove the fact that the spirit is ubiquitous, and the desire to party hard is so engrained into the nation's psyche that you'd be clearly highly delusional not to acknowledge this facet of the national identity. Of course, Port of Spain is not without its charms and landmarks, but for the focus of carnival alone, which is far and away
the most invigorating time to visit Trinidad and Tobago, the centre stage of all the nation's beauty could be said to lie within the confines of Queens park Savannah, the location of which is where the chief panels of judges will award scores to the performances and appearances of the various Mas bands in all their justifiably-exhibitionist glory. This is a nation which has risen above many of its Caribbean counterparts on an economic level due to the petroleum industry which has brought about the kind of revenue associated with growth and development. These issues though do seem to pale into insignificance when it comes to the ability to stage a display of colour, vibrancy and noise, namely Soca (soul of calypso), Reggae and Trini-pop. On a carnival route around town though, thankfully, some scope for sightseeing is actually woven into the mix, and it adds an extra dimension to the revelries seeing landmarks such as the Jama Masjid mosque, Holy Trinity cathedral, Brian Lara promenade and the lively thoroughfare of Ariapita Avenue. If you're able to squeeze in any time for shopping, then the area in and around Frederick Street appears to be your best bet, although the modern
shopping malls (Long Circular Mall and The Falls at Westmall to name but two) provide a couple of options too. On a culinary level, a pleasantly welcome Indian influence has crept into the mix, hence the national passion for doubles (roti bread with chickpea curry filling), various chutneys and rice in various formats, but Creole cuisine also abounds here. By way of conclusion, the secret to having an immense time in Trinidad without even seeing a wide spread of sights is to be there for carnival, and if their sun-kissed vibes fail to hit the spot, then you might want to question your level of overall sociability, especially in an area of the globe where letting it all hang out ostentatiously is precisely what drives the nation's psyche to such celebratory excesses.
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