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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hi Saucy!

This was my first year visiting Trinidad and playing mas. I can say that my experience with Evolution (Fetish section) was a VERY pleasant one, as I was very nervous going to a different place and not really knowing what to expect, especially since I paid so much of my hard earned money. The leaders of the band were quite organized as far as costume pickup was concerned and everyone was extremely nice to us. One thing I can't stand is POOR customer service and thankfully we weren't met with any of this on the entire trip. It didn't take us very long at all to pick up our costumes--About 45 minutes for all 5 of us.

I can't express how pleased I was that I wasn't greeted with attitudes and the like
during my ENTIRE 7 day stay experience in Trinidad. Shynelle and Quentin of Evolution did a wonderful job of keeping in contact with us mainland masqueraders, reassuring us that every detail would be taken care of...and it was. We initially wanted to play with Island People but I think it was a blessing that the band was sold out by the time we made our deposits, because I have not been hearing good things about IP masqueraders' experiences.

My costume was SO beautiful, albeit a little big, but nothing that safety pins and a little nipping and tucking couldn’t fix. Too big is always a fit. I was so excited I wanted to wear my headpiece to bed—but my friends forbade me hahaha. Security for the most part did what they were supposed to be doing. The bathroom truck was very convenient (although individuals not in the band were sometimes allowed on) and for the most part the people serving drinks did what they were supposed to do (except for one lady who was very rude and took the time to sit and smoke a cigarette and roll her eyes at us while the masqueraders were requesting drinks).

Lunch on Carnival Monday didn't arrive until about 7pm...which was a bit disconcerting. On Carnival Tuesday, the trucks couldn't decide where they wanted to go, towards the end of the route. I also felt a little unsafe when the stormers decided to come in between the ropes towards the end of Carnival Tuesday...But by then we were exhausted anyway so we were just ready to go home lol. One can't expect perfection and overall...everything worked out well. I would definitely play with Evolution again.

All in all, my first mas experience was a wonderful one and I couldn't have asked for a better birthday with such wonderful friends, great treatment, and the welcoming spirit of Trinidad :) BTW the moleskin saved my LIFE lol. I will definitely be back next year and the years to come. I can't believe I waited this long!!!

VI Boricua

Oh what is in store for 2010?

Reliable sources have told The Sauce that a contingent of designers from a certain band are heading up North for supplies VERY soon. And even though when they do their designs and prototypes they do not invite impartial masqueraders for feedback on what works and what does not I am going to share some advice for those doing the Asian theme.

First off Stories of the Silk Road is a very interesting read for those tackling this theme; it traces the actual Silk Route as well as the folktales from the countries along the ancient Silk Road. Marco Polo's adventures along the Silk Road is also quite entertaining and I think a better concept for coming up with section names would be weaving the stories/people/culture into the section name instead of a section called "China" or "Tibet" .

Nix the nude colours and tones for 2010 unless you are pairing burnished coppper and bronze with rich bright colours. Use the vibrant colours of the Orient to your advantage and deliver some spectacular colour combinations, for example yellow and green just seems so old school, how about thinking outside the box when it comes to colours?

My favourite destination on the Silk Road is Samarqand, gorgeous colours! Can you not see this replicated in jewels all over a bra and belt? I can even see the headpiece for this one too!

Samarqand has been a river oasis since time immemorial. The strategic position smack on the Silk Road had armies and empires come and go since the Macedonian conqueror Alexander. Much of what can be seen today is "post Genghis Khan". The local Timurid dynasty started with Amir Temur (=Tamerlane) in the 14th century. He and his successors created a giant empire with Samarqand as its capital---and centre of the Universe, world centre of science as they saw it.

Although the countries on the Silk Road and Spice Route have very identifying characteristics please, no Chinese lanterns, Dragons or Umbrellas! Ornate jewelry and headpieces should be the way to go; there are some very interesting shapes and designs if one explores the traditional dance costumes of the various cultures.

I am really looking forward to a section that explores Egypt,Persia and Mongolia ; something tribal and totally different to what would expect from the theme. And lets not forget the guys this time around. Perfect theme for guys to explore their inner warriors as there are so many ideas for fantastic male costumes FOR ONCE! As much as some guys love their board shorts there needs to be more authentic looking male costumes for 2010! I cannot wait to see what Peter Elias does with his males.

Finally the frontlines... yes, we want FEATHERS, yes we want backpacks....yes you can still do frontlines that reek of Brazilian samba girls (don't we just love it?) but there can be much done with FABRIC for this theme. Just think about that fantastic backpack for Angel Fish!

There are still lots and lots of ideas that I have for this theme, but since the "experts" are paid for the very same thing I am giving for free I will reserve giving it all away and wait to see how this theme is done; worst case scenario is that I can always tweak my costume myself! Or maybe I WILL be tempted by what Richard and Anthony have done for the Spice Route, which by all accounts (as their muse) I know is going to be drop dead gorgeous!

Review: Experience with Trinidad Fete Tickets

Dear Saucy,

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog over the last 6 to 9 months especially as a first time Masquerader. While the experience was unforgettable and beyond my wildest dreams, there was a huge mishap that happened during my 10 day stay in TNT.

I have taken some time to seriously consider writing to you, but now that I have seen various reviews of bands and accommodation websites I think it is time to share my experience with Trinidad Fete Tickets

Our group of travelers decided to purchase tickets through this website soon after the Fetes were announced. We were required to put down a deposit (at their determination) and then submit the remaining balances once the final prices were determined. At the end of January we only had final prices for one or two of our fetes. However, there was a delay with the final price of the Brian Lara tickets. We finally received final price of the tickets shortly before our departure on February 16th. We received numerous emails about when to pick up the tickets and which tickets had not been received yet. Apparently there was a problem in receiving the tickets from the promoter of the Brian Lara event. To avoid the hassle of collecting the tickets, we had a family member pick up the tickets that were available. Upon our arrival in TNT, there were still no Lara tickets in addition to another set of fete tickets

During our costume collection on Thursday, February 18th we sent some friends from our group to pick up the remaining tickets. My friends were disappointed to learn that the tickets had not been received from the promoter. (Please note that this would continue to be the excuse for the remainder of the trip.) We were told by the customer representative, Bea Thomas, that the tickets would hopefully be received the next day or on Saturday. My friends were given Bea’s number to call to inquire about our tickets.

On Friday, I left a message with Bea only to be returned with a text saying that she still did not have the tickets and continuing to blame the promoter for the mishap. We were all growing very leery about the possibility of not having tickets to this event. While the bulk of my group was in TNT on vacation, one woman in my group was doubling this time as both vacation and work. The Lara event was highly important for her business ventures as she was to network with numerous professionals at this particular event.

During the next three days, we left numerous messages for Bea via text and on voicemail. One in particular message from her stated that she was off to the beach and would not be available to us for the remainder of the day. She continually turned off her phone and forwarded it to voicemail. This was the last straw for our group as she told us that she did not receive the tickets on Sunday, the day of the event.

Finally on Sunday evening, via text messages, we had to pry Bea from her comfy bed (she informed us that she was in bed!) to get the remaining tickets for another Fete that we had purchased. Face-to-face we had a very heated discussion in the misting rain to which she essentially placed the blame on the promoter and she would not cop to her disconcerting behavior. Also during this conversation, it was revealed that some people did in fact receive their Lara tickets. There was no sound explanation as to how it was determined who would receive the tickets (maybe because they were at the office when they arrived?).

Bea informed us that we would receive a cash money refund the next day. Again, we did not hear from her all day on Monday until finally in text she informed us that another representative from their UK office would be contacting us. This person called me and said we would now receive our monies in 5 to 7 business days via Pay Pal because they did not have access to that much cash. Since our return to the U.S., we were informed that someone hacked into their Pay Pal account which prevented them from transferring the refunds to our accounts. We were asked for our addresses for a wire transfer to take place before Bea went on vacation on March 6th. On March 9th I sent an email requesting an update as to when we would in fact receive our money. The response I received was that we would receive our monies after March 11th. It is now almost a week since our last communication and I have not received any more information regarding a refund or wire transfer even after sending another email. I have tried calling them only to be informed that their phone is no longer in service.

While I understand that all of the circumstances surrounding the tickets and their Pay Pal account could actually be true, the constant lack of communication and unprofessional disregard for customer service is what fuels my group’s anger. In these hard economic times where people such as yourself and other travelers decided to trim the amount of Fetes they attended, it only makes it more infuriating that we were treated with such disregard. As consumers of such a great event, we should NOT have to continuously chase after an organization for a refund ($175 US). There was a lack of judgment on their part to alleviate the circumstances and prevent it from escalating by neglecting to inform us early on of the troubles with the Lara tickets and the possibility that we would not receive them. However, they chose to string us along. We placed our TRUST and hard earned money (especially in this recession) in their business to do right by its customers and they did not do so.

Sincere regards,
1st Time Dimpled Masquerader

Review of the Joy Zing Guest house

Review of the Joy Zing Guest house (AKA BROTHEL) 6A Anderson Street St James

Proprietor Dianne Oliver

When we decided that we were going to Trinidad Carnival 09 we started the lengthy process, we did initially want to go back to our accommodation we stayed at in 2008, Caribbean Tourist Villa, but they were asking for over inflated prices approx £480.00 per person for a triple and a double, we finally found a place on the official Trinidad Tourism site called Joy Zing Guest House in St James.In the initial pictures the place seemed nice boasting good location, Jacuzzi, Cable TV, Fridge, Air Conditioning, En Suite Showers, Comp Tea and Coffee, Washing Facilities and use of Kitchen.

Upon arrival after our 10hour flight from London and an hour drive from Piarco Airport it was approx 7pm and we was needless to say ready to shower eat and drop!

We parked the 2 cars up, there was 5 of us and another person was joining us the following week for one week, we stayed for 2 weeks and 2 days.As my friend approached the gate he was met by a bemused person who did not have a clue what we were doing there, after a few calls and us discovering the lady who runs the house was not there she told the guy she was not expecting us for a few days! Vexation kicks in, anyway he was lead into the house whilst we were unloading the car, into the porch to be shown our rooms. Bare in mind there is 5 of us and we booked a quad and a double room, the quad was supposed to have 2 doubles and a single or a double and 2 single beds we were not fussy. When my friend came back out to help us with the luggage he was laughing and saying "you all ent go like what is inside!"

I instantly dropped my bag and made my way into the door/gate I was greeted by a gloomy dated lounge/kitchen that look like cleaning ain't take place since the house was built. I made my way through and upstairs, guided by my friend I entered the “Quad room” and was greeted by one double bed, filthy bed sheets, stained pillows, a bed that looked like it was made up of 3 different beds, the shower curtain and pole was held up by a chain and mealy suspended in the air (refer to pics below) The dark shading on the walls is not light but dirt!

We later found out what them stains were on the sheets! We then made our way to the double room, well I took a deep breath and the room stink, once again more stained sheets, a sad looking light with no lamp shade, air con plugged into a dodgy extension lead, the air con was leaking lots of water all down the wall onto the floor and the fridge had a free 7up in it half drank lol and the shower was filthy.

I was just about ready to blow I could not face talking to the woman on the phone cos I know she would get cuss! So I told me friend as he is calm and cool please call her and get her down here now cos this ain't what we paid for - US$3200.00 for the group of 6 I might add!

So she answered the phone and my friend explained the issues and that we were unhappy that the guest house is run down and that this was not what was advertised! As much as we need a place to stay we want our 50% deposit back and we will stay elsewhere. The woman soon turned nasty and told my friend who is Black but well spoken “wha so cos ya see black people there the place aint good enough for you?” my friend replied "err I'm black and I'm in Trinidad why would that be an issue?" She responds “cos you saying the place run down anyway I will be down in the morning and we can talk about the issues and get them resolved but I can promise you no refunds will be given” at this point we all just about had enough and decided to stay the night!

On closer inspection in the rooms we soon discovered the advertised Jacuzzi is a bath with jets and not a “Jacuzzi” as we know it lol and also the cable TV is simply decoration and does not work anywhere in the house!

I will cut out the chasing up the lady and constant calls over the next 5 days after we arrived Tuesday. The lady finally reached on Saturday! We were all having breakfast in the Quad room with one double bed, the “Lady” came in and my friend offered her a seat

First question:

How many people staying in this room? I responded well it have one double bed so I guessing 2? She responded I see how much people up in here and I want to know how many in here? I replied again I only see one double bed so I guessing 2?

I would like to speak to the man I spoke to on the phone,she asked, my friend Richard stood up and said it’s me! What seems to be the problem with you all and my place? she asked abruptly. Richard responded calmly we paid money for a place that is run down, nothing works and we would like our money back!

I don’t know what Jumbie gone inside this woman but she flare up and start cussing “you all Fu”!ing don’t be telling me my place is run down cos you see black people here you Fu”!ing stink people think you is too good for here” she shouted at Richard one of the other guys interjected and told her who she think she is cussing out people so? You need to learn some manners! She responded I don’t need you a stupid man telling me Fu”!cking nothing you look like and idiot with them tings on your head (DREAD LOCKS) I got fu”!ing nothing to say to you. The situation was becoming out of control I sure one of the guys would have box she down cos she was cussing them in a way and swearing like her mouth is a toilet!.

Me and Richard tried to reason with her but she was fixated with my friend with the locks so much so she tell him she want him out she house now! And was cussing and swearing at him like he was something she stepped in! I then started to let my vexation out and cuss the woman, I told her your place is stink and nasty, you are clearly a reflection of your guest house I just want me money back or the police would be called.

After a good solid hour of cussing and carrying on the woman left our room, Richard followed her to the lounge and began to explain we only want our money back for the nights we owed and we gone! Or we will get the police involved, Choice is yours

She decided that she would give our money back $US2800.00 but she needs to go to the bank we told her in the mean time we will pack our bags and look for another guest house, me and Richard got on the phone and found a 2 bedroom apartment in Maraval for US$1500.00 the place was stunning!, however we kept getting calls from the house from the others who were watching the bags she saying she wants them out now plus shouting, they explained we were on our way back and we would be gone she refused to give us the money until we handed over the keys! We tried to get back ASAP but we were told she left and would not be back until 10pm.

We told the other guys take the hired car and the luggage and go settle into the new place boy I hate playing mum but I had to they my peoples, we would stay and wait for her to return it was 6pm and we waited until 10:30pm, during this time we discovered something really disgusting, my room the double one had already been let out! And we could hear 2 people having sex loudly, we then spoke to the lady who cleans the house she gave me some jokes, she informed us that the landlady rents out rooms by the hour! People come do they business and go! (now do you guys realise what all them stains are on the sheets?? I need a Detol bath quick!! Anyway we tried calling her and finally got through she told us we would not be getting our money until tomorrow morning and she will be charging for a nights stay. By this point I really had enough I called the police and told them what happened they took the lady's number and called her then called back within 15 mins they were very helpful they said the lady has promised to return in the morning and hand over the money! And that we should go and hold onto the room keys for security.

Sunday morning we drove down to the house called her and she answered she is 5 mins away, on her arrival Richard followed her into the house I walked up to the door to listen in on the conversation the woman start shouting again, by this time I ready to kick she in she back I ask what’s going on, she only handing over US$1300.00 instead of US$1400.00 she then left the money on the table and proceeded to walk out I was fuming but I told Richard lets just take the money and go!

Our holiday finally started and I have to thank the excellent hospitality of the lady who’s apartment she let us rent it was really nice.

Anyone thinking of staying at the Joy Zing Guest House think twice unless you only looking to rent for an hour lol
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