Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
This morning I got up, had breakfast, showered and off we went to the mall/bank. First to the bank where I turned in my travelers checks so I could pay them for my stay. Then it was off to the mall where I did almost all of my souvenir shopping. Don’t be offend if you didn’t get something, I am only one man and remember, I am currently unemployed. In fact, the first person who finds me a job gets a souvenir!….. no that will never work. Anyway, after that, Jerome and Marylin dropped me off at the Port so I can buy my ferry ticket for Tobago. Then I would find a taxi back to the house. I got in a long line to buy tickets. It was taking forever. I started talking to the man in front of my about half way into the line. I tell him that I just need to buy a ticket for Thursday. He then informed me that I cant buy advanced tickets at the port, I had to find a travel agency. Weird. But went to the Information desk and got a list of all the agents that sell those tickets. Then I had to get there so I stood outside right where I have previously been mobbed by taxi drivers after getting off the boat the last two times. No one was there. The boat wasn’t coming in for two hours. Usually I could get a cab before I even step outside. But nothin. Then I asked a security guard and he told me where to stand so I walked a little over a block down and just waited. This is my I first time doing this by myself. In Chicago its easy because all the cabs say :Taxi: on them. Here ANYONE can be “taxi driver.” So I stand on the corner. After awhile still nothing. Then I try to stand like I have to go somewhere but its too far too walk….. Beep beep. It worked!!! I told him where I need to go. And he said sure and I got in. Sidenot: the cars in Trinidad and Tobago have the freindlest horns. Most just say “wahm?” or “where d scene?” or translated, “Hey whats up my friend?” or sometimes they say “hey need a lift?” You do get the occational “HEY! Why the heck did you stop in the middle of the road?!” (the PG rated version) but most of the time it’s the first two. The driver also picked up three other people on the way. He dropped me off first and I asked how much and he said 5 and that was it. Not so bad. Im alive. In fact im going to do it again tomorrow and go to the mall. Well I got back and called Seion. He said he was on his way to pick me up because he was dropping off the two St. Vincent boys at the airport. So he picked me up and we ended up driving to mall where Seion took us to dinner. We went to a nice Chinese buffet place. It wasn’t bad. The other two had never eaten at a Chinese buffet so Seion and I taught them the tricks of the trade. I think they were impressed both by our eating ability, knowledge and the fact that I can use chop sticks well. It was a great dinner because we bonded a lot and I got to know them better as well as Seion. I actually might go down to St. Vincent’s Panorama and play. I told Big P that it was his turn to teach me the notes. We got a good laugh at that. So we went to the airport, traded emails and such and dropped them off. Good guys. I will definitely keep in touch. Then it was back to the house to rest. I had some more nice conversation with Marylin and Jerome when I got back and then I headed to my room to blog and chat. Now I have to get to bed. I have get up at 9 tomorrow. Marylin said she would knock so I HAVE to get up. It was so nice today she did my laundry and laid it on my bed while I was gone. Anyways off to bed. Long day tomorrow.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Well anyways, this was supposed to be a very short, funny post but turned philosophical faster than two shakes of a chicken foot (maybe that phrase will catch on). I think it has become my favorite post of the whole trip. I am particularly proud of the title. Seems fitting. Haha. Well thanks for reading/ putting up with my inner monologue-esk babbling but it was bound to happen at some point. I just didn’t know that it would be triggered by chicken foot soup. Oh well. Off to bed for Mas early tomorrow.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Well Sunday I relaxed most of the day Seion said he was going to call me around 5 or so. I think he forgot and I knew J’ouvert was in the morning so I was probably doing that. I hung around the place and took a few naps. I went up and got some bake and shark again from a food vendor. The place I am staying is right by where all the bands and mas passes by. I ended up taking a nap and Seion called me at around 330am, yes 330 in the morning. He said hes comin to pick me up, wear crappy clothes, bye. So I did just that. I put on a white T shirt and some gym shorts. I only brought my phone and a little bit of cash. He picked me up, we parked and then started walking. It was Seion, Big P, Demitri, Akua and Kyshon. When we got out of the car, Seion handed me a bottle of Johnny walker and Kyshon had a bottle of Black and White. I still really didn’t know what I was in store for. I knew there would be drinking (obviously) I knew there would be dancing, and also some paint was involved. We finally ended up by the Savannah where there was a huge flatbed 18 wheel truck full of speakers playing extremely loud soca music. The speakers are stacked about 10 ft high and are on all sides of the truck with a DJ in the middle. There was a huge mob of people around it just dancing and hanging out. Behind that truck was smaller truck with a bunch of people handing out Bottles of paint. Yellow paint because the band (group) we were with were called the Yellow Devils. Makes sense. There was just a huge tub and people in the truck would take old 20 oz bottles, fill them up and hand them out. Oh and behind that truck was the alcohol truck there were about 6 people just handing out beer and alcohol for free. I then realized that a lot of people pay to be a Yellow Devil and you get a wrist band and a T shirt. You also get free drinks and breakfast in the morning. I just looked online right now and its 70 TTD for all that which isn’t bad at all. I wish I would have paid but at the same time I got pretty much the same experience for free. Just no t shirt anyways so what happens is hundreds of people follow this truck dancing and throwing paint and drinking all night. And there a ton of different bands of people so there have to be thousands and thousands of people following the different trucks through the streets. It was interesting to see the different trucks and mobs navigate around each other when the crossed paths just because there were just soooo many bodies, all dancing. Haha. What is also funny is that when the two bands cross people get covered in other bands paint so you when you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning youre like, “how did I get blue paint on my chin?” or “Is that blood?!?! Oh yea…. We passed the Red Devilz.” Oh I forgot to mention that when we parked, Akua gave me this ridiculous safari lookin’ hat. He said it was for the sun but I think it might have mostly been so that can keep in eye on me. Just a guess though. There were long periods of time where I did get separated from my Seion and the small group but as long as I stayed with the mob and the truck I knew I would be fine. I knew we were ending at Mangos, where I ate the first day. I actually ran into other pan players from Trinidad who played in the Buccooneers too. So we did this all through the night even as the sun came up. People still dancing the whole time. I think with all this dancing and pan playing I have lost a bit of weight. I don’t see how I couldn’t have. So its around 9 am and we ended up at Mangos and Seion and all the paying Yellow Devilz went and had breakfast and I walked back to where I am staying. Jerome and Marylin met me outside and we talked about how the night went and how much fun it was. They have been great because before I went out they warned me not to drink too much and not to take to much money because of pick pockets. They really look out for me. So I went in and took a nice shower, and Marylin made me breakfast. It was great I forget what it was called but it is usually eat around Christmas time. It was like a patty of meet and other things in a corn casing. There was ham and fresh papaya as well. Oh and I had some Sorrel as well. Delicious. Then I went into my bedroom and passed out. I wanted to get up around 1 for lunch. That never happened. I ended up sleeping until 5. I think I surprised Jerome and Marylin how much I slept. I wasn’t surprised and I probably could have slept a few more hours. Haha. I got up and hung out for a while. Then I went down to get some food and watch Mas bands pass down the street. Tomorrow is when Mas is at full force but today it was a lot of people dancing behind those huge DJ trucks and some are dressed in the Mas gear. Some of that stuff is crazy what they carry or cart around. Some are as wide as the whole street. I eventually walked back and have been hanging out around the house relax and blogging. Now its time to see what is happening tonight. I know tomorrow is supposed to be along day so I might just get my rest. Anyways, more tomorrow.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
So, after we perform we pushed our pans straight back to the school where the trucks were. On my way out I actually so a friend Jennifer Butler who played in NIU Steel before me and she had come down for Carnival. She had found me on Facebook and we have been talking for the last few weeks. We literally only said “Hi!” and I had to go push pans. So we pushed pans back and loaded them on the trucks while eating a bit. Then my and the Vincent boys went back to the Savannah to hear some bands. We were there for a while and saw a lot of good bands. I saw Desperados, Silver Stars, Skiffle Bunch and Phase II. I actually introduced myself to Robert Greenidge as he was walking along the track. I didn’t say much because they were on their way to the stage. I didn’t want to get in the way haha. I the last two bands I saw were Phase II and Silverstars and they Silverstars won last year. Both of there arrangements were really good. I also really like The Despers music as well. Silverstars and Phase II are a lot more flashy and Despers are more about the music I feel. All good in my book.
Anyway, I had been exhausted since we got off the stage and I never knew my feet could hurt this bad. My and Big P hung around until after the results so Seion could give us a ride back to the hotel. We actually missed the reading of the results but we came in 6th place. A really bummer. I really don’t think that it reflects what happened well but that’s the nature of the competition. Its what the judges like. Two Tobagonian bands were higher than us but we had beaten them with different judges 4 days earlier in Tobago. Eh Oh well. The good news is while we were waiting, I had Bake and Shark for the first time. It is pretty much the best thing I have every eaten. Its fried shark in bake which is a great bread, with lettuce, ketchup garlic sauce and hot pepper sauce. So we went back to the hotel and I made my bed on the balcony again and passed out at about 430. The rest of the band was leaving at about 6 so I woke up and took the extra bed after they left and said goodbye. The St Vincent boys are going back home on Wednesday and I am going back to Tobago, on Thursday. We all slept until Seion called my phone at 11. He said he was going to be there in a few minutes so the three of us pack our stuff as fast as we could and then relaxed. He actually didn’t come for another hour and half so we had passed out again haha. It was kind of funny because we didn’t hear him calling our phones again so he had to come up to the room and knock. Still exhausted, we got into Seions van (which is what they call pick-up trucks apparently). He was dropping me off at where I am staying. Apparently Cliff has set me up with these people. Its right in the middle of town. An older couple Jerome and Marilyn. They are friends of Cliff and Jerome said he used to teach Cliff pan back in the day. It’s a very nice place and I have my own room and private bathroom! Yes I know its amazing. And I believe its only going to cost 60 US dollars a night. Definitely very nice. I got in and took a shower. It was the best shower I have taken in 5 weeks. Amazing. Then I got dressed and went down the street to get some food. Because it was around 130. I went to a restaurant named Mangos on the Avenue and had some fish and potatoes. Very tasty, a bit expensive but worth it. I actually met a US American couple from San Deigo and where probably in their 50s or 60s. We talked a while about their travels and where they have lived in the US. It wasn’t their first time in Trinidad for Carnival so they talked about that as well. Then we went our separate ways and I headed back to the place to relax and blog. more later. Feel free to ask questions. I probably left somethings out. haha
The pictures below are of the room I am staying in. and just for a size reference the bed is right next to the closet.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
So today I got up pretty late. However the last few hours weren’t that great because Omari thinks its hilarious to wake me up with loud music or other means. He didn’t go to school because the late night last night. I did eventually wake up and then got some food (saltfish, tasty) then went to the beach for a swim. I created a new exercise were I tread water with just my arms for like 10 minutes and the stick my legs straight out from my body (Pike position). Im actually feeling it in my upper body now and its nice and relaxing. Anyway, boring I know, I got done and went back for shower and get ready for a meeting at 6. I actually didn’t go until about 615. Oh no im late! Not. I ended up sitting around for an hour then I went to get some dinner and came back. Around 8 then the meeting started about 20 minutes later. We just got our uniform pants for the finals and found out the Maxi comes at 5 tomorrow morning. After that, the guys who go on the slow boat with the pans went to port as well as a handful of helpers (Me). What are we helping with you ask? Why I’ll tell you. We are helping push all the racks on the boat. Doesn’t sound hard right? They’re on wheels, no big deal. Until you have to push them up a wet, obstacle filled, 45 degree incline about a mile long. (not really a mile but had to be 100 meters). I had flashbacks of High School Football pushing the sleds up and down the field. Anyway, it wasn’t too bad. But I was soar from this “awesome new workout” I created. We got up to the top and we organized them. Then suddenly I was like “it smells like a sweaty farm up here?!” Then I turned around and there were about 20 goats caged in the back of a pickup truck just staring at me. Hateful eyes they had, hateful judging eyes.
I did seem like we were the most efficient pan moving crew of all the bands. Then we went back to the car and headed back to Buccoo, dropped some people off and finally got to Lemon’s. So now I am just about done packing. It has been tough because I am staying longer than everyone else. Finals are Saturday and everyone else is coming back Sunday. I am staying in Trinidad until either Wednesday or Thursday to hang with Seion and the gang for CARNIVAL! Exciting. I am packing my back pack to the brim. Hopefully I will have internet at the hotel. Otherwise there are going to be some really long blogs to come.
JUST IN CASE I DON’T HAVE INTERENT. I will post the info for Finals:
My band is the NLCB Buccooneers and we are playing second. The competition starts at 6 Trini Time and we should play between 615 and 7 is my guess. That’s 415 to 5 CST . The link to watch it online is http://www.ctntworld.com/livestream/ heres the link to the band order http://pantrinbago.co.tt/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=318:panorama-grand-finals-order-of-appearance&catid=40:news-articles&Itemid=55 I am in the medium band category and they go first.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Yesterday rehearsal went well. Seion and a bunch of the players from Trinidad were here but rehearsal was actually pretty short. We had to move our pans down to Scarborough for the completion today. They call it THA which stands for Tobago House of Assembly. This is the Tobago steel pan final. All the Tobagonian steel bands that make it into the National Semifinals play here and compete against eachother. And there are only two categories. Traditional (single pan or pan ‘round de neck) and conventional (like the Buccooneers). Each band is to have no more that 75 players playing for this competition so the large bands have to cut a lot of people. We only have to cut a few. It is said to be very political but I feel we have a pretty good chance at winning. People seem to really like our band and enjoy Seions arranging style. But I really don’t know what will happen. We moved racks last night until 330. Phew! Exhausting but still fun.
Today I was pretty lazing because of the late night last night. I hung out and got some food and just listen to music today. I also wanted to conserve my energy because the competition doesn’t start until 8 oclock and we play 5th in our category. Traditional is up first so we probably wont play until about midnight. A maxi is going to pick us up from the panyard at 5, Then we head over to the practice yard in Scarborough until we play. Should be a long night. Oh I forgot to mention. I got another new jersey (t-shirt) for the performance and at first they gave me another XL but I moved quick and found a Medium in the extras bag. Finally something that fits. Last competition I had a Large and that was still huge. Plus I think I am losing a little weight out here due to all the walking and such. I good kick start to my new years resolution (that’s a first)
I am feeling much better today and I feel almost back to normal. Just in time for travelling to Trinidad on Thursday.
Just now as I was in the kitchen getting something to drink, Omari came running and it looked like he stubbed his toe and was crying a bit. A little background, Omari likes to pretend to be hurt with me a lot where he fake cries and fibs about being hurt and has fooled me the first couple of times. But after the first few I told him that he should lie and people wont believe him when the real thing happens, insert “the boy who cried wolf” etc. It seemed as though he had actually been hurt this time. So I quickly checked that there wasn’t a serious injury and made a mini ‘teachable moment’ out of it. I don’t know how much actually sank in but I hope a little. Don’t worry I did still console him but he was fine 5 minutes later. Anyways off to catch the maxi for THA. More soon.