‘Tis the time for soca, chipping on the road, wining, getting on bad, partying, drinking and more partying. By now, you may all know that one of us loves carnival more than the other. Let me give you a hint. That would be one who never misses Trinidad carnival even with the announcement of a general election.
And so this year’s carnival season began with what has now become a family ‘tradition’: Garfield’s trip to Trinidad. With his ticket to Trinidad booked almost a year in advance, he looks forward to this trip like Christians look forward to the second coming of Christ (this may be blasphemy, but it’s that serious).
Sadly, his gym routine didn’t amount to much this year. But hey, who needs a perfect body? It’s carnival! So, off he went to enjoy a week of fun, frolic and soca filling our timeline with the exciting scenes of Trinidad Carnival.
Meanwhile, I was posting selfies at work.
But really, how can selfies stack up against videos like these?
Carnival in Jamaica
Once hubby got back to Jamaica, it was time to get into the full swing of Bacchanal activities. Usually this is where I’d join in, but this year, I was certified MIA, not least because I had not been to the gym in over six months and was (still is) totally out of shape. To save face, I also blamed my lack of enthusiasm on the lame soca songs this year. I mean, my favourite soca song is “Party Animal” by Charly Black -- a dancehall artiste for heaven’s sake!
So yeah, I didn’t go to Mas Camp, unlike Garfield.
I didn’t go to Cocoa Jouvert, unlike Garfield
I also didn’t go to Tabanca Tuesdays, unlike Garfield.
I pretty much didn’t do anything carnival in Kingston …yeah you guessed it… unlike Garfield.
But, no matter how lame I think the carnival songs are or how out of shape I am, there is one event that I will never miss and that is Frenchmen’s Rise up Breakfast Party on Easter Saturday. Nuh uh.
There are only two super huge problems with Rise Up breakfast party. It starts at 4 a.m. and it’s in St. Ann.
Why are those problems?
Well, for starters, I spend every Easter holiday with my mom, who lives in Runaway Bay, a stone’s throw from all the major parties. The problem is I can't quite figure out how to explain us getting up and getting dressed to go a party at 4a.m., a time when, according to my mom, “only police, thieves and prostitutes roam the road.” At least Garfield is a police, but really, what's my excuse? And dressed as I was... Yes, even as a fully grown adult, my mom instills the fear of God in me. And no, I wouldn't get a free pass because I was leaving the house with my husband.
And so we grappled with the dilemma: should we travel down on Saturday morning since we now have a super cool new highway and it’s only 40 minutes to get to Ochi? Or do we go to mommy on Friday and endure her judgment on Saturday morning?
Thankfully, Garfield (aka the fixer) decided that he was going to solve the problem. Instead of going to my mother, we'd spend Friday night at a hotel. Sounds like a pretty amazing solution, right? I could freely wear whatever I want and leave the hotel at whatever time we desired without my mother second guessing whether her daughter and son were in fact respectable professionals.
Well, it would be a perfect idea, if we weren't staying in the same parish, and worst yet, if the hotel was not just about 10 minutes from home. See, I don't know about you guys, but I was not about to try to explain to my mom why I would be staying in a hotel room when she had an empty house waiting for us. Simply put, that was nothing short of treason.
So, I did the only respectable thing any child could think of. I lied (by omission really, but it was still a lie). All my mother needed to know was that we were coming to her on Saturday after attending “a very important event” in Ocho Rios. Don’t judge.
Settled on our plan, on Friday evening, we travelled to Ocho Rios. I was still raving about the jerk pork we just had from Scotchies as we greeted the hotel's receptionist. Lo and behold, I was about to realise that I may have escaped the judgment of my mother, but I certainly would not escape the judgement of this receptionist.
“Miss, may I have a copy of your ID, please?”
“Oh shoot, I think I may have left it in the car,” I only had the foil paper with the jerk pork in my hand and I could tell that she thought I was lying.
“Miss, please put the year you were born on the form.” She was scowling at me as I completed the form.
I know I don’t look underage and while my outfit for tomorrow may be questionable, today, I look like a perfectly upstanding citizen. Or so I thought.
I wrote my surname boldly and clearly with my left hand.
Look, I’m married. My name is Taylor. Don’t judge.
She didn't even bat an eye. “Mr Taylor, you and your guest are on the second floor…” I did not miss her emphasis on “guest” as she met my gaze.
Witch. “Oh Jeesh, I think I’m gonna have to really get her my ID.”
Garfield smiled sweetly at her and said, "Thank you." He then turned to me, “Come on. Let’s go!”
I am a Partier… or not
“Seriously, whose idea was this?!” I was fumbling with the phone in a desperate attempt to stop the high pierced scream that was my alarm. The reality that I was waking up at 3:30 a.m, not for work, not to complete an assignment, not to study, not to work on a client’s matter, but to attend a darn party was a little to much to bear.
“Come on, the breakfast party is one of the most popular and best parties in Trinidad!” That was my overly enthusiastic husband.
“And it really should’ve stayed there. Who brought this idea to Jamaica?” Ughhhhhh!
I crawled out of bed and got dressed while cursing the soca gods. A little more than an hour later (wait, do you think it takes minutes to look this good?) we were ready to go. Dare I say, absolutely nothing beats the combination of the beach, sun, soca music, food and alcohol. There was even a cameo appearance by Mr Charly Black himself, though I will say, he is a much better recording artiste than he is a performer. But who cares? There was vodka, food, the hype man and the best disc jockeys in the world. After all, this was Frenchmen!
Home with mother
As the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end” and after reveling for hours, we drove to my mom’s house tired but happy.
"Lecia what on earth is this you are wearing?!" I had barely stepped out of the car and I could see her eyes were bulging from her head.
Here comes the judgment. “Relax mommy, we're coming from the beach.” And to reinforce this truth, I yelled to Garfield, “Come let me brush the sand off your feet.”
“So how come you so dry? You didn't go into the water?” Mommy was eyeing me suspiciously.
This lady knows I am a big woman, right?
“No mother, it was a beach party.” I answered rolling my eyes. She knocked me upside my head and walked off mumbling.
I hurriedly shed my clothes and headed to the shower, so that I could quickly change into more appropriate wear.
Never mind, I was soon back in her good graces. On Sunday, I accompanied her to Kingdom Hall and on Monday, we spent all day hanging out and frolicking on the beach. So once again, all was well with world.
Ah well, I guess you never stop being a child.
Note: Unfortunately, I got sick on the actual week of carnival. But never fear, here are some highlights from the road march of this carnival, stolen from Garfield's collection.
Gentlemen, you may thank me later.