St. Lucia Carnival
28 June 2005 | St. Lucia, Eastern Caribbean
Friday night, we went to a Calypso Tent, here in St. Lucia. St. Lucia's Carnival is July 19-20, rather than February like Trinidad. They changed it from February 6 years ago, because too many local people were leaving St. Lucia to go to Trinidad's Carnival. So they are in the midst of all the pre-Carnival fetes, with the pan bands practicing for St. Lucia's Panorama, and the Calypso tents open every night. A Calypso Tent is where 20-30 Calypsonians compete with their original Calypso songs, all new for the 2005 Carnival season, hoping for the most coveted Calypso Monarch title.
It was wonderful, the songs were brilliantly clever, and the audience was rowdy. Anyway, near the end the MC picked ME out of the audience, (we were sitting in the front), called me on stage, and asked me where I was from, thinking he'd make a spectacle out of a tourist. Of course, as always, we were the ONLY white people there. Though there are a lot of tourists here in St. Lucia and throughout the Caribbean, they are mostly on cruise ships and in all-inclusive resorts, which they only leave for group excursions, always very protected. They never venture out on their own or go to local events, especially something like a Calypso Tent. Even the Yachties don't go to the local events, just a few restaurants or stores or hiking to a waterfall that is listed in their Cruising Guide. That is why when we seek out and go to these events we are always the only foreigners AND the only white people, as the whites on these islands are, for the most part, not so interested in the blacks' culture.
Well of course, I said I was from Trinidad (the land of Calypso). Everyone roared with laughter. The MC said, "No, really, where yuh born ahn grow?" which, in Trini English, means "where were you raised". I said "I born ahn grow California, but now I live Tree-nee-dahd". Turns out the MC was also a Trini, and he challenged me, "OK, sing us a song from yuh country, Tree-nee-dahd." Well, with my terrible voice and all, I started belting out "Trini To The Bone", a Calypso song which, for all intents and purposes, is the unofficial Trinidad Anthem. The band immediately joined in, and the MC started singing with me, thankfully, as he helped keep me on key, and then about 400 people in the audience started roaring with laughter and singing along!!!! How odd for them to see someone who so obviously looked like a tourist, but was proudly singing this very local song that was also very popular in St. Lucia. Rick and our friends in the audience were hysterical! After the tent finished, lots of people came up to me and "bounced" me, that's where you offer a knuckle tap, you know, like a handshake but with your knuckles, and claimed, oh, me mama a Trini, or oh, I born ahn grow Trini, or whatever. (Trinis are very proud.) The next morning, when I stopped by to see a local friend of ours at work, everyone in his office claimed that they saw me on TV last night!!!! Anyway, what a fun experience!
We have a friend that plays the double pan in a cool little reggae band, last night we went to hear the band, and after their break, our friend invited me to come play his pans, just strumming cords, very easy, so I played most of the second set with them, it was sooooooo cool. We were there with about 8 friends. The sax player is a friend of ours too, and we've invited him to the boat, Rick wants to have a sax lesson, he's thinking of taking it up. What a great night, but it's kinda sad, in 4 seasons we've made so many friends on each island...oh well, lot's of great memories...