We are so fortunate to be in Grenada during Carnival. The Grenadians really know how to through a party. Events for the Carnival take place over a five month period and climax two weeks in August with the highlights being J’ouvert and Spice Mas Parade of the Bands. J’ouvert means to celebrate the dawn. This is done after an all night party involving oil and paint. There are no spectators. If you go, prepare to be oiled and painted (sorry no pictures). Spice Mas Parade of the Bands is the main event. These events basically result in a three day two night celebration. When I say night, I mean: all night long!
Carnival is infectious. The beat of the music, the dance, the costumes and the happiness grows over the island and comes together in the town of St George’s. The marina where we are staying this summer is in St George’s and is located in the heart of the activities. Our favorite activity was the main event, Spice Mas Parade of the Bands. The parade starts just south of St George’s and moves very sloooowly eventually winding up downtown. It is absolutely brilliant.
It is Loud
To say Carnival is loud is a massive understatement. I don’t think I have heard music played this loud since a Who concert. Inside Cream Puff, with the hatches closed, we could barely hear each other speak. The music was about a quarter of a mile away and was so loud the boat vibrated all over from the bass. To get sleep, we needed ear-plugs. Even with the ear plugs they only managed to muffle the sound. The source of the music is massive music trucks loaded with speakers. These trucks roll with their groups providing Caribbean dance music for the costumed parade members. There are tons of trucks. We have some friends who are anchored in a bay about three miles away as a crow flies. They told us they could hear the music from there. I believe them.
If there is a lull in the parade groups, not to worry; there are also speakers set up all along the route prepared to blast music should any lapse in music trucks occur. This provides “the beat” for people taking advantage of the lull to grab a bite to eat or a drink from the many street vendors.
It is Hot
Carnival is held in the hottest month of the year. It is steamy hot and humid. Staying hydrated is a must. I cannot begin to imagine how hot it is in some of the costumes. Even for the people with skimpy costumes, they are still dancing for miles along the parade route. In addition to the music truck each group has a water truck. I’m convinced they handed beverages a little stronger than water. These trucks had massive ice chests aboard and handed water to their individual group. As you look at the pictures at the end of this post, you will notice almost everyone is holding some type of drink or cup. I firmly believe the only way I could participate in Carnival and survive the heat would be as the guy handing out water. One for you, two for me.
One nice thing we noticed is the street vendors did not take advantage of tourists when selling bottled water. It was readily available for the equivalent of US$1.00. We spent about $20 on ice cold bottled water. If you can’t find a bar, don’t panic. Included in the parade is the bar truck proudly serving adult beverages to spectators. Just meander out to the truck and place your order.
Twerking is in. Even the men twerk. Judging stations are set up along the route and routines are performed in front of the judges. We located ourselves near one of the judge’s stations so we would be sure to see the dance moves. I recall during Miley Cyrus’ controversial twerking at the VMA’s and how she made reference to New Orleans and Caribbean Carnivals as the source. All I have to say about this is; the Grenadians are rather good at it.
It is Colorful
Carnival participants had no issue posing for the camera. The Grenadians will pause for pictures even allowing for spectators to pose with them. Most of them made their costumes. Look at the intricate details. The carnival is very eccentric. It moves on island time. It starts late and stops when the last person is done. We watched as the driver got out of a water truck to buy a pair of sunglasses from a street vendor. He was in no hurry. If it rains, the parade stops for a few minutes and the participants run to the nearest building eaves. Some will continue to dance in the rain using it to cool off. The music trucks cover the speakers with a giant tarp (the music never stops). Rain doesn’t last long. It’s just a temporary increase in the daily humidity index. After a few minutes the parade starts again as if nothing happened. I love this about the islands.
As a person who likes to capture colorful pictures, I was in hog heaven. I took almost 500 pictures during this one event. Here are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them (click any picture to start a slide show):