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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Carnival Virgin Survial Guide

I know I sent this in an email last year, but for those who were not fortunate to get the email or only discovered the blog after I sent it out here is some advice for all you mas newbies a.k.a VIRGINS!:

Here is a compilation of tips and advice for Carnival Virgins (and even those not so Virginal). Hope you find them useful!


• First and most important never wear your full costume on Monday unless you are a two band/section H.O. Tuesday is the day to look fresh and glam. Most people who do this look washed up on Tuesday. For some reason Tuesday is the time to show off your costume.

• If you plan on wear mas stockings to prevent your toes from suffering, cut off the toe part so your toes will be free. Some people cut the stockings to the ankle but I find that sometimes causes a run so when I cut my toes off I use clear nail polish to "seal" the edges.

• On that note I always carry a small "survival pack" on the road, it's usually a small pouch and in it are items like my sample sized sun block, wet wipes, safety pins, pain killers, clear nail polish (for stocking runs on the road), my cell phone, vex money, powder, oil absorbing sheets and lip gloss. A husband/boyfriend also known as a "man purse" can be utilized for carrying of the pouch as well.

• Sun block, sun block and MORE sun block. Apply after bathing, apply when waiting on the band to move off, apply when you stop for lunch, apply often, apply liberally, ...just make sure you apply it. You don't want to look like a Tobago bun bake by Tuesday morning. Carry some sun block with you in a small vial or a sample size so you can re-apply as necessary.

• Face jewels look pretty, but if you get sunburn you can end up looking like your face has polka dots all over. The flat, metallic jewels in shapes such as stars are the major culprits for attracting sun like a magnet. I have found using crystals are much better!

• You do not need a full face of make up for Carnival to look polished; getting individual false eyelashes gives an instant "made up" look to your face. All that is needed to complete the look is your lipstick, eye shadow to match your costume and a touch of face powder to give your face a "fresh" appearance.

• To keep makeup in place, for those who love the made up look, the key is NOT, I repeat NOT to go out with a bare face. Use a lightweight moisturizing sunscreen with a HIGH SPF (45+) like Neutrogena. Then, spray a VERY HIGH (60+) sunscreen all over your body and go lie down for a little while and let it absorb into your skin. Ideally it should be in an air conditioned room, but if A/C is not an option, just place yourself where you can get the coolest breeze in the house. Then get up later and apply your makeup. Your skin feels like it has been freshly washed because everything is already absorbed! To make cosmetics last, use PRIMER for damn near everything. There are eye shadow, mascara, and lipstick primers among other things! THEN apply your regular makeup over the primer. It lasts! Primers can be purchased at Clinique, Sephora, from any upscale makeup line, and even CVS drugstore

• To the "big girls, thickies, thick ting" if a mas band doesn't carry your size underwear but they have your bra go to a cloth store or Samaroos, look for a reputable seamstress and have your underwear made. Get your correct sized stockings, when your 'hose bussing holes you are going to look busted. If you wear anything over a DD, try to see if the particular band you are playing with will let you use your own bra (if you have a way of getting it there). Sometimes these bands don't cater to those with the melon jugs and having your bubbies dragggggggggggin on the ground isn’t sexy at all.

• Makeup must always be in tact. In order to accomplish a fresh face all day it is advisable to get your face professionally done by a competent makeup artist. This also helps in preventing your face from becoming sun burnt as the makeup protects your face plus you look 10 times better than when your costume nice but your face like "plain Jane". You don't want to be seen on TV with your face looking like you frying chicken by the KFC stand in the Savannah all day!

• Footwear. Ladies please, please, please wear comfortable shoes, sneakers or whatever you desire to wear on your feet. If wearing sneakers, make sure you "break them in" at least 1-2 months before carnival if you can't well there's always "Dr Scholls". Some people often play mas in gym sneakers because they are already "broken in" and comfortable so it gives support all day. The worst ting is to see people walking in the band barefooted or in their socks alone because the sneakers hurting their damn foot. If you are wearing boots I got advice to tape your toes with cotton for extra comfort.

• If you want to have much stamina, start doing brisk walks round the Savannah, in your yard, on the treadmill, up the street. Wherever you can go walking, do it because it helps come Monday and Tuesday. It helps you to loose the weight plus build stamina because come carnival you want to be able to go until the music truck switch off. Try to start walking about 3 to 4 months before Carnival it really does help, STAMINA FUH SO.

• Deodorant... please, please, please wear it, preferably the clear, non-residue leaving stuff. Walk with a mini one in your lil bag on Monday and Tuesday, trust me you will appreciate it... (And you will be able to tell those who haven't put on any!)

• Drink lots and lots of water... for every alcoholic drink, drink at least 8 oz. of water...dehydration sucks big time

• EAT BREAKFAST!!!! ...nuff said

• Wear stockings...unless you have you have own body guards on the road, they will help with keeping a barrier between you and the "bodily fluids" from the masses'

• Make sure you have a ride to and from Port-of-Spain on Monday and Tuesday... because the last thing you want to be doing Tuesday evening is trying to get a ride home, with your feet hutting like mad!

• Soak your feet in Epson Salts & hot/very warm water Monday evening when you get home. Your feet will feel like brand new come Tuesday to go the whole day.

• Don't play cutesie cute and let the Koreans sand down under your foot when you go for your pre-TRINI carnival pedicure. You need the rough padding under your foot for those two days on the road or else you will be bawling for murder with pain if you go with your tender, newly scraped heels.

• It's a good idea to designate a pre-arranged meeting area in case you or anyone else in your "crew" gets lost. Also, have the address of where you are staying and a contact number for someone close to you on hand. I have met foreigners who were lost, intoxicated and could not remember the name of the guesthouse/hotel or friend they were staying at.

• You do not have to wait until the costume collection day to pay the balance on your costume. All bands accept part payments towards your costume periodically, for example you can make payments monthly. Not only does this ease the burden of having to pay up the balance of $2000.00 in February but it also saves time when you go to collect your costume.

• Several sections of the more popular mas bands offer two costume choices for female masqueraders; a regular costume (also known as backline) and a more elaborate version which they call frontline. Frontline masqueraders lead the section as you cross the Savannah stage and the costume is more expensive than the backline.

• A backpack is a costume accessory that is usually made from feathers, fabric, beads and for the first time this year ribbon and tinsel. These materials are mounted and decorated on a frame of either wire or stiff cardboard, which is carried on the back/shoulders of a masquerader by straps which are hooked under the arms and across the back. Usually seen with frontline costumes, the backpack is sometimes what differentiates between a backline and a frontline.

• Even though Carnival is a time to "free up" always make safety your first priority. DO NOT accept drinks from strangers, DO NOT wear expensive jewelry and DO NOT wander away into lonely, dark areas. If you need to use the toilet always go with a companion. Some bands provide mobile restrooms, if yours does not many bars that line the parade route allow you to use their facilities for a fee, take along a friend as some of these bars may have seedy characters loitering around.

• To prevent sunstroke make use of the cool-zones provided by the band, drink cool liquids and always wear proper headgear; headpiece and/or bandannas or hats.

• If you have to purchase something to eat, try to stay away from anything that has mayonnaise as an ingredient, looks like it was cooked earlier and has been sitting in a glass case all day or the vendor/premises does not look sanitary. I look for food that either comes in a sealed package or is prepared fresh, that is if I cannot make it to a reputable food outlet.

• Taking along a camera? Leave the expensive digital at home and walk with a disposable instead. Trust me cameras can be easily lost, broken or stolen.

• For the ladies, if you are expecting your period around or on Carnival day it is advisable to wear a tampon instead of a pad. If you must wear a pad, wear the ultra thins. If you have a regular cycle or you are on the pill you can "delay" your period until AFTER Carnival. This article explains how it is done by taking your pills back to back without stopping or using a hormonal medicine called 'norethisterone' which is taken three times a day for three days before your period is due and then for seven days to delay the period. At the end of the seven days, the tablets are stopped and your period starts as normal. Your doctor can prescribe this medication and I can vouch for it working as I have used it before with no side effects.

• Mas stockings are not your usual panty hose, which do not have the strength to stand up to the rigors of Carnival Monday and Tuesday leaving the uninitiated with runs and tears. The proper stockings are sheer to the waist tights that are made with lycra. The super shiny, orange stockings that they make for "tan" people are a no- no. You can get a variety of non shiny, flesh toned stockings locally at Micles and Samaroos.

• Not many people think of wearing underwear UNDER their stockings, a simple cotton thong is excellent for having your nether regions be able to breathe. Even though the pantyhose are lined with a silver of cotton at the crotch area I find it is not enough protection between your genitals and the pantyhose. You do not want to end up with a yeast infection because the pantyhose are made from a synthetic material that traps heat and moisture, ideal breeding ground for yeast.

• Do not forget to WAX if you plan on going sans stockings, or for the least SHAVE!! No one wants to see your pubic hairs showing in your thong as you throw back a wine or lift your leg up!

• For ladies with larger breasts I recommend tape to keep your breasts from popping out of your bra while you are jumping up. It's very simple to do, use the tape much like those "stick on" bras, taping from one side of the breast to the other so the tape cups the breast in a U shape and keeps it firmly supported. You can do more than one row of tape until you feel them firmly taped in place. After you are done taping try on your bra and make sure none of the tape is showing, if any of the edges of the tape are peeking out, you can trim them with scissors. Please DO NOT use duct tape, and do not tape over your nipples! I use a wide, stretchy bandage called elastoplast but there is a tape made specifically for this called Fashion Tape, or Bondage Tape. Be careful when removing the tape, use baby oil to moisten the edges and gently remove.


Skin firmness:
Women are naturally plagued by cellulite, regardless of if you are skinny those annoying bumps show up on your legs or butt and exercise does not always help. I know there are several creams, lotions and potions out there that claim to firm, tighten and lift areas prone to cellulite. Mas stockings helps to give your legs a smooth look.

If you are of the lighter pigmentation coming out of winter to hit Trinidad with pale, pasty skin is not cute! I vacation a lot and I am always browsing my vacation forums and I have read about self tanners, bronzers, mystic tan and tanning beds being utilized BEFORE going on vacation. Some of the posters swear having a tan gives you added protection from the sun so you won't burn. To me the tan just looks healthy and makes your skin look great. From my reading I know tanning beds are not recommended because of skin damage, but the spray on tans and self tanners are.

The decorations on the (any) backpacks and the position of them may cause some snags and breakage. A stylish chignon or a simple, elegant plaĆ®t is an easy way to protect your hair. Not everyone has the fortune of hats like Fireman and Cow Mas.. Most of the costumes' headpieces have some sort of headband as its foundation, which means that your hair is going to be subject to the same constant sun that your skin is—perhaps even more, since you're in a crowd, and assuming you don't tower over everyone else, your body would be shaded at least a portion of the time, whereas your exposed area of hair stays exposed, unless you're sure to constantly stand in the shade one must make sure their hair is as protected as your skin.

I can't endorse any particular product, but lots and lots of anti-frizz (silicone based) works wonders against all the moisture in the air (sweat, cool zones, wildness of people just flinging water in the air in sheer excitement and drunkenness. Anti-frizz may not provide sufficient hold or control for all, but a good rule of thumb is to make sure your products are alcohol-free. You're probably putting enough alcohol into your system on the road; you might as well not have your hair dehydrated before you even leave your house. Can you imagine the brittle mess you'd have to deal with come Ash Wednesday morning?

Also, have your ends trimmed after Carnival, apart from it being logical, it's almost always necessary if you are going to the beach and/or pool because the sun/salt/chlorine combination strips hair of moisture. In addition to the post Carnival deep conditioning, get rid of abused ends (kind of like pruning a tree of the yellowed leaves—it makes the nutrients be better distributed to the more "deserving" parts). And, it goes without saying that pre-Carnival hair should always be well-tended and the picture of health, because there is NO WAY that it makes sense to invest that much in the rest of the package and forgetting the tresses. So, have your hair trimmed a few weeks before the trip.

Post Carnival Skin care:
After the two days of subjecting your skin to the fierce Caribbean sun what do you do to pamper your skin ? I will share my secret, even though I slather on sunscreen I always manage to get a "tan" and my body feels as if it is radiating heat. To cool down I use an aloe vera gel by Banana Boat that soothes the skin. To help my skin get back its original colour I use Vicco Tumeric. Now don't laugh, I know it sounds like some "cheap" little lotion you buy at Pennywise but it really works to fade the tan quickly. I first used it after Carnival a few years ago since my mom is always buying new stuff to try and she had a tube of Vicco around. I also exfoliate with a body scrub (not recommended if you have sunburn!). I would love to hear how others get their skin back in condition after the brutal exposure to sun on those two days.

In my earlier post I listed a tip that says to soak your feet in warm water and Epsom salts after pounding the streets all day, soaking your feet helps ALOT after Carnival. If you have a foot spa use some aromatherapy oils like cucumber or mint in the water to soothe the feet. Also, again, I stress that you keep your pedicure simple, no toe nail extensions or long toe nails. Your toes will be getting constant pressure against the sneakers/boots and you don't want to loose a toe nail after Carnival!

I thought I would throw this one in here because so many women, and men, want to get photographed or make their way onto television or some other form of media. If this is your goal, and even if it is not, the easiest way to look "young and fresh" when you are smiling from ear to ear is with nice white teeth! You can get your teeth professionally whitened but there are many products that you can use in the comfort of your own home such as whitening toothpastes, Crest Strips and the Natural White 5 minute tooth whitening system.

Carbs not all bad....

Well I looked up what the Glycemic Index is per the Guardian's fitness article yesterday and discovered that some carbs are good for you; the key, as with all things, is to eat them in moderation and pay attention to portions. I was going to cut out all carbs from my diet but then I was wondering what to do with the orzo,couscous and jasmine rice that I happen to like so much. So I think I am going to try and eat some of the "good" carbs while cutting out the "bad" ones like rice,refined flour, potatoes and sugar.

This article explains the whole Glycemic Index quite well and lists the foods that are better for you:

There is a lot of talk these days about a new meal planning tool called the Glycemic Index (GI). But there is also a lot of misunderstanding about the GI, which has actually been around for more than 20 years.
It is a good idea to get to know and understand the Glycemic Index, because choosing foods with a low GI rating more often than choosing those with a high GI may help you to:

• Control your blood glucose levels
• Control your cholesterol levels
• Control your appetite
• Lower your risk of getting heart disease
• Lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes

The basics The Glycemic Index is a scale that ranks carbohydrate-rich foods by how much they raise blood glucose levels compared to glucose or white bread.

When you eat food that contains carbohydrates, the sugar (glucose) from the food breaks down during digestion and gives you energy. After you eat, your blood glucose level rises; the speed at which the food is able to increase your blood glucose level is called the “glycemic response.” This glycemic response is influenced by many factors, including how much food you eat, how much the food is processed or even how the food is prepared (for example, pasta that is cooked al dente – or firm – has a slower glycemic response than pasta that is overcooked).

Good carbs, better carbs

Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends eating a high-carb diet with 55% of each day's calories coming from carbohydrates. Not all carbohydrates are the same, however.

The Glycemic Index ranks carbohydrate-rich foods according to their glycemic response. Foods that raise your blood glucose level quickly have a higher GI rating than foods that raise your blood glucose level more slowly. In general, the lower the rating, the better the quality of carbohydrate.

Not only do low GI foods raise your blood glucose more slowly and to a less dramatic peak than higher GI foods, but most low GI foods are all-around healthier choices. Low GI foods are usually low in calories and fat, while also being high in fibre, nutrients and antioxidants. Choosing low GI foods more often may help you increase levels of HDL (healthy) cholesterol in your blood and might help you control your appetite, as they tend to keep you feeling fuller, longer.

Choose wisely

Try to choose low and medium GI foods more often than high GI foods. A GI of 55 or less ranks as low, a GI of 56 to 69 is medium, and a GI of 70 or more ranks as high. Use the chart below to help you make healthier choices.

Here are some tips to help you lower the Glycemic Index of your daily meals:

• Base your food choices primarily on overall nutrition – including vitamins, minerals and fibre.. Don't dismiss healthy foods such as white potatoes just because they have a high GI. Their other nutritional benefits make them good choices.

• Try to choose at least one low GI food at each meal.

• If you choose a high GI food, combine it with a low GI food, for an overall medium GI meal. For example, half a bagel (high GI) with a bowl of chili (low GI) , or corn flakes cereal (high GI) topped with a spoonful of All Bran (low GI) and some strawberries (low GI).

• Limit the amount of processed, refined starchy foods, as they tend to be low in fibre and other nutrients and have a higher GI.

• Try new foods that have a low GI. Experiment with beans, legumes and lentils by including them in dishes such as chili, soups and salad.

• Eat whole grain, pumpernickel and oat bran bread more often than white bread.

• Eat fresh fruit and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables have a low GI, so they break down into sugar slowly in your body. Canada's Food Guide recommends five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Enjoy a variety!

• Choose parboiled, brown or white rice more often than instant rice.

• Eat pasta, rice, yams, lima beans or baked potatoes more often than mashed, boiled or instant potatoes. Eating potatoes cold, as in a salad, reduces their GI (but go easy on the mayo dressing).

• Use vinaigrette instead of a creamy salad dressing. It's lower in fat, plus the acidity of the vinegar slows digestion, lowering the meal's GI.

Remember that the Glycemic Index is just one part healthy eating. Don't forget to:

• Eat at regular times
• Choose a variety of foods from all food groups
• Limit sugar and sweets
• Reduce the amount of fat you eat
• Include foods high in fibre
• Limit salt, alcohol and caffeine.
• Choose heart healthy fats such as canola and olive oil.

(choose most often vvv)

Skim milk
Plain Yogurt
Soy beverage
Sweet potato
Oat bran bread
Oatmeal (slow cook oats)
Converted or Parboiled rice
Pumpernickel bread
Al dente (firm) pasta
Lentils/kidney/baked beans
Chick peas

(choose more often vv)

New potatoes
Split pea or green pea soup
Brown rice
Basmati rice
Shredded wheat cereal
Whole wheat bread
Rye bread

(choose less often v )
Dried dates
Instant mashed potatoes
Baked white potato
Instant rice
Corn Flakes™
Rice Krispies™
Bagel, white
Soda crackers
French fries
Ice cream
Digestive cookies
Table sugar (sucrose)

To calculate the Glycemic Index of other foods check this site.

Feel the burn!

Although yesterday was a holiday I stuck to my resolve of following the six week fitness plan for Carnival. In the afternoon the hubby and I made our way to the University of the West Indies (UWI) campus to start walking, the first phase of aerobic activity. Let me tell you, in addition to our walk/jog around the campus we also ran up and down the stairs and finished with a sprint which leaves my legs feeling quite sore this morning! I prefer to do brisk walking but hubby likes to run so we mixed it, alternating running and walking around campus

The work out was difficult for me only because I suffer with itchy leg syndrome when starting any type of running or walking. It never happens when I am in the gym using the machines such as the bike or treadmill, but once I am walking or running outside my legs start to itch like mad after a few minutes. Don’t laugh, it is a documented phenomenon and there are several explanations for why it happens. One is that it is an allergic reaction to exercise (though I don’t think this is the case with me) another theory states:

The itching is not on the skin, it's inside the actual limbs. There are millions of tiny capillaries and arteries inside our muscles which expand rapidly due to the demand for more blood that is brought on by exercise. When fit, these capillaries remain open allowing maximum blood passage, but when unfit and inactive they tend to collapse, allowing only minimal blood passage (which is sufficient for a sedentary person however). The rapid expansion of these vessels causes adjacent nerves to send impulses back to the brain which are interpreted as an itch. That's why after a few sessions the sensation tends to go away.

So basically the itching is a sign that I have lapsed on my workout and it will cease once I do some more walking. I read on another forum that a personal trainer said it is a sign of burning fat! The strange thing with me is that it never happens when I do aerobics in the gym, only with walking or running outside.

Anyway, I suffered through the itching and managed to finish my walk/jog and returned home pumped up to face the “beast”. Unknown to me my husband has a variety of fitness machines that were stashed by my mom in storage so yesterday we freed them from their state of inertia!

The Beast

It looks simple enough but try doing abdominal work on that baby and you feel the burn! I did three sets of 8, each set consisted of sit ups, leg lifts and crunches. After which the sweat was bucketing out every pore on my body. After that I attempted to use this rolling machine that my hubby uses to do some more abs but that was very difficult, and I only managed a few attempts of trying to make it all the way down and back up on the roller. I finished up the workout with some leg and upper body work using this thigh machine we have that can be used for either part of the body.

I did not even get around to using my Pilates DVD , maybe I will try that today though my legs are sore as hell! But I am really happy I started back exercising after my gross lapse over the holiday season! No more excuses for me not feeling like hitting the gym or that it is raining (though I have to start back the gym next week for weight training per the fitness plan), I got my ass out the house and started working out even though I could have found a million reasons not to; it was a holiday, I have the flu, it’s that time of the month, I overlooked them all and saw only my goal at the end of six weeks… FIRE for them in Fireman!

Fire Bam Bam!
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