If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this blog entry will be a literary masterpiece.
In the first week of August, Grenadians from all over the island celebrate Carnival, which is a three-day extravaganza of culture, music, and food. Much of the content is not suitable for children and the entire festival seems to be fuelled on rum, beer, and ganja.
For months leading up to Carnival, different communities create magnificent costumes which they will wear during the Pretty Mass parade. A group of judges will decide on the best costumes and they really pull out all the stops. We were fortunate to visit one of the locations where a group of women were creating these outfits (which all are custom fit) and we all had a great laugh about the different shapes and sizes required. Apparently, there is no discount for smaller statures… The more elaborate costumes can cost up to $600 USD which is a huge amount of money in Grenada, and these costumes will only be worn for one carnival.
Jouvert represents the darker side of carnival and symbolizes the emancipation from slavery. The celebration really starts late on the Sunday night where revellers gather to “fuel” and prepare for the parade which gets going around 0400. Traditionally participants cover themselves with motor oil to symbolize the slave auctions when the slaves were oiled to highlight their physiques. Chains are also a common theme, symbolizing the bonds of slavery. The crowd was remarkably peaceful for having spent the night drinking and although we stood on the sidelines taking pictures, everyone was generally friendly and unthreatening. We elected not to take you to Jouvert which, in hindsight, was the correct call.
We were amazed by the stamina of the Grenadians during this three day event. Jouvert ended at around 1100, at which time the street was cleaned and the causalities carted away in anticipation of the parade at 1400. They then lit it up again that night and again the following afternoon for a second Pretty Mass. Amazingly they were all at work, sober and clothed, on Wednesday.
Jouvert was fascinating in a creepy, rum fuelled sort of way, and the costumes of the Pretty Mass were extraordinary, but it was the children that caught the lens. Although they were scarce during the night, they were completely imbedded in the parades and made up some of the most interesting profiles. Unfortunately, over the past ten years, the electronic Soca music has taken over and there was only one pan drum group in the parade, however the drummer below was enchanting to watch, and his obvious passion and joy were infectious.
“Pretty-Mass” is the culmination of the Carnival where the different teams parade and dance through the street (again to booming soca) and they are judged based on costume and enthusiasm. The actual themes were not always obvious but the colours and costumes were spectacular.
The Ladies of Carnival…
With every spectacle comes the spectators…
Although this is a Caribbean event there were many tourists and students who were carried away with the enthusiasm of the moment, donned costumes and joined in. We have mercifully not included their photos because they will eventually have sobered up and realized the error of their ways. Here are a random selection of spectators and locals.