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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bring out the Brolly???

Last Tuesday, the 18th of November, Port of Spain and environs flooded as if we were in the days of Noah! With just a brief shower in the afternoon a sea of water covered South Quay and homes from the capital to the East were flooded with four feet of water; the devastation numbers in the millions. Added to that headache was the massive gridlock that stranded passengers, commuters and motorist trying to head out of the city. November marks the end of the hurricane season, but these rains were not even storm related, just a regular afternoon shower that turned into a nightmare for hundreds of people, myself included.

View of South Quay under water on Tuesday November 18th;
the building on the upper left with the black roof is City Gate!

Now I am sure you are thinking when you land in February the rains are long gone and the thoughts of floods on Carnival days is a remote possibility. Well, with the climatic changes occurring in the 21st century, the "rainy season" in Trinidad seemingly never ends! I am sure all of us who played with TRIBE 2007 remember only too well when the skies opened on South Quay, just as the first section crossed the downtown stage, and drenched masqueraders. As I stood under my shelter under Royal Bank, many a drooping wet masquerader with faces stained from the dye from wet feathers passed me by looking stunned that the weather had changed so suddenly.

Warrior Spirit with wet feathers TRIBE 2007

And even though the sun played hide and seek until evening, we were sprinkled intermittently for the rest of the day. That was the first time I can recall being rained on for Carnival Tuesday, I had experienced showers early a j'ouvert morning one year but nothing like being soaked in 2007 (albeit I was technically seeking refuge under the bank!).

Most masqueraders seemed to not let the sudden showers dampen their spirits and partied on through the rains all day. For the most part headpieces survived with feathers plumping back up nicely when they dried, others ran and stained not only feathers, but faces in blue and red. My costume that year was ruined though (it was white) along with the long skirts of those ladies in Peter Elias' Jean and Dinah section whose skirts were caked with mud and dirt!

Jean and Dinah section TRIBE 2007

God forbid it rains for Carnival and Port of Spain floods as it did last Tuesday, all the fletch dry powder in the world is not going to help when what you need is a boat and a paddle!! So here are some tips to help you weather the storm if it ever comes:

*Walk with a plastic bag in your pouch/man purse - this can be used as a rain poncho or to stash your headpiece in the event that it rains and also to spread on the soggy, muddy grass in the park when you stop for lunch; an all purpose weather gear!

*Wear Boots vs Sneakers - When wading through flood waters boots are essential. You will have the last laugh at all those who wonder why on earth you were buying knee high, water proof boots for Carnival when boots keep your legs so warm.

*At the first sign of ominous looking dark clouds hop up on the music truck - these may be the only vehicles that can navigate the flood waters in the event that South Quay is under four feet of water. Besides when the DJ switches to "Wet Meh Down" you can have your own rain party and an excellent view of others scampering for cover.

*Bling out your Brolly - this will be the hottest trend for 2009, decorated and embellished mini tote umbrellas to match your costume.

The case eve matches the costume!

* Don't even bother to try and head back to your hotel /home in the event that it floods - apart from the massive gridlock to escape Port of Spain you have all the supplies you would need to weather the storm right in the band; rum, music and captive people to wine on. Turn the streets into one big block-o all-inclusive fete since you are already dressed for the occasion in bikini and board shorts.

*And finally,adopt the attitude that when life gives you lemons make lemonade- so what if it rains, your costume gets soaked and you wake up the next day with a hacking cough? It beats being snowed in and freezing your a** off! The fete never stops.. it is C A R N I V A L!!!


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