First, welcome back! Now that you’ve had a couple of weeks to rest and reflect, was Carnival in TNT everything you thought it would be?
Being raised in the culture, carnival is not new to me but being in Trinidad and witnessing first hand the raw emotions of the people reveling in fetes and on de road, the technical and artistic beauty of mas, feeling the pulsating rhythm of iron and steel, and feeling your heart pumping in time to the soca as you mash up de stage was unparalleled to anything I’ve ever experienced.
How was this trip to TNT different (besides participating in Carnival) from your previous trips?
This was my first time in Trinidad where I was not dependent on my family who actually live in Trinidad. It was odd not actually going to Arima as that is my main destination when in Trinidad. It was an interesting experience being very familiar with Trinidad but also feeling like a tourist in terms of my how I navigated Port of Spain and carnival without family.
What did you most look forward to on the trip? Were your expectations met?
For this trip, I simply wanted to be present and experience first hand the beauty of the culture my grandmother taught me and my siblings. I found myself very emotional at times because carnival was everything my grandmother said it would be. The entire country is vibrating with an energy unparalleled to anything I’ve ever experienced. Carnival is truly a liberating experience where nothing matters except being genuinely happy.
As a longtime friend of Shermica, a fellow Trini, and watching her build Soka Tribe into what it is today, how was it being able to be with her in Trinidad for such a cultural and historic event?
I know Shermica and her family are proud, full fledged Trinidadians so I knew Trinidad carnival with her would be an authentic experience. It was evident that she put a lot of effort into making the experience memorable for the entire group.
Is there anything you would different next time? How soon do you see yourself going back?
I am definitely going to Trinidad Carnival next year. I would not change much but I will definitely make arrangements to attend more of the cultural events, especially Panorama, since I played pan until I graduated from college. I also really want to play jouvert in my hometown Arima. While I can appreciate the modern take on jouvert, I am a traditionalist with respect to jouvert, as the essence and heart of mas and carnival is bred from traditional, old, dutty mas.
Last question- how are you dealing with Tabanca?
I cried my eyes out at the airport. Everyone warned me about carnival tabanca but I never imagined it could be this intense. Listening to my ‘De Pumping Now Start’ soca playlist on Tidal, scrolling through photos of the Soka Tribe crew on my phone, and making plans for carnival experiences stateside are my current coping mechanisms for my tabanca. But knowing that I get to experience Trinidad Carnival with Soka Tribe next year provides the most relief.