On this day three weeks ago, I was in Port of Spain, Trinidad with my friends, having the time of my life at Carnival.
I went to Trinidad & Tobago, my parents’ native homeland, for 10 days with 4 of my friends. We had an amazing time!
Carnival is a festival of nonstop partying before the Catholic season of Lent begins. It’s officially the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, but truth be told, Trinis start celebrating carnival as soon as the Christmas season is over.
My friends and I started the festivities Sunday night. We celebrated J’Ouvert. “J’Ouvert” means “early morning” in French creole. It’s a party in the middle of the street, which lasts from 2 am Sunday night well into Monday morning. We didn’t get back to my aunt’s house, where we were staying, until 9 am on Monday! During J’Ouvert, you throw chocolate, paint, colorful powder, and mud at everyone and dance in the street following a truck with huge speakers blasting soca, the island music native to Trinidad. I got plastered with chocolate.
J’Ouvert allows you to release any stress or anxiety you were feeling, and it symbolizes rebirth.
Once we got home Monday morning, we washed up then headed out in the street to celebrate with our mas band, Harts Carnival. Harts is one of the most well-known carnival bands in Trinidad. The most popular bands include Tribe, Bliss, and Yuma. Every band has a different vibe. Harts is a younger, multicultural crowd, with people of all different hues, body types, and backgrounds. On Monday, we wore shorts that Harts provided and cute tops. Monday is a chill day for carnival – you take it easy after J’Ouvert, drink, do a little dancing, and get to know the street route for Tuesday. Truth be told, we were pretty beat on Monday and did not stay on the road for long. We turned in early that day, then prepared for the main event – Carnival Tuesday!
On this day, we donned our costumes in their full splendor – our feathered headpieces, our bejeweled bras, our body jewelry and other adornments.
We woke up at 4:30 am Tuesday morning to get dressed because we had to be out on the road at 6:30 am to meet our band. Carnival is a party in the streets, and the trucks keep it moving. If you don’t come on time, you’ll miss your band and you will spend the rest of the day chasing the trucks.
The Harts band had everything we could need! There was a portable, clean restroom truck, multiple trucks with fully-stocked bars, a party truck where you could dance with your friends or even take a nap when you were tired of walking, and even a cool-down truck that sprayed water on you to keep you cool!
And everyone, absolutely everyone was beautiful! What I love about Trinidad carnival is that people, no matter what their size or age, come out on the streets and claim their beauty and their right to show off their God-given body. There are women and men, sizes XXS to XXXL on the road, all wearing the same costumes, and all having a great time. It’s beautiful.
Before we knew it, Carnival Tuesday had come to an end. We did not leave the band until well after dark. Afterwards, we headed to an afterparty at a bar, too high off of the excitement and energy to go immediately home.
The rest of the trip, we spent hardcore chilling out. The next day, we went to a party at Salybia Nature Resort, which is about 2 hours away from Port of Spain.
Then we booked a plane and headed to Tobago, where we stayed with a close family friend.
Tobago was beautiful. Stunning does not even begin to describe the island. Tobago’s serenity was exactly what we needed after the excitement and adrenaline rush of carnival. We went on a rainy hike up Argyle Waterfall, Tobago’s highest falls.
Store Bay is Tobago’s most popular beach. It boasts clean sandy shores, colorful huts selling the delicious local dish bake & shark, and glass-bottom boats where you can sit and look directly down into the Bucco Reef. We spent a whole day at this beach, took a boat ride, and enjoyed the sunshine and the gift of being alive, young, and on vacation.
Nylon Pool is the final destination of the glass-bottom boat tour. It’s a shallow area of the Caribbean Sea with white sands and crystal-clear waters.
I had a beautiful time with my friends in Trinidad & Tobago for carnival this year.
I also took video while on vacation and captured these memories into a YouTube travel vlog, which I hope you will enjoy:
Have you ever celebrated carnival before? Where? What has been your favorite vacation experience?