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Jouvert In Trinidad 2014

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This year I played with Shades Jouvert whose mas camp (headquarters) are in Tunapuna. Their J’ouvert band route snakes through St. Clair (in Port-of-Spain) and Maraval from King Georges V Park  and ends at Long Circular Mall in St. James.

We got to the park at 3:00 am Carnival Monday (Lundi Gras) morning when it was still dark, wearing our yellow Shades Jouvert t-shirts to identify our band. For breakfast, we had a choice of Trinidadian-style cheese, ham or egg sandwiches and doubles.

Around 4:00 am, the groovy Soca riddims from the big truck’s gigantic speakers lead our band – trance-like – chipping through the streets of Port of Spain. As the sun rose higher, revellers got happier, drunker and muddier with splashes of blue, yellow and green paint. The Soca switched from smooth grooves to power bouncing and plenty vibes!

Close to 8:00 am, we returned home with sore feet, dirty bodies, ringing ears and smiles on our faces. Knowing that this was just the beginning of an unbelievable Carnival 2014.

[quote]J’ouvert (or Jouvay) in French is jour ouvert which means morning break. J’ouvert is held in the early morning of Carnival Monday and most real Caribbean-style carnivals will not forego this tradition which dates back over 200 years.

Although the French had never actually colonized Trinidad & Tobago, many of their customs remained on the islands. After slavery was abolished freed slaves were able to dress up in costumes that mimicked the styles of their former owners. Some of the most famous characters portrayed in J’ouvert come from Trinidad folklore and history. They include Moko Jumbie Bats, Bookmen, Baby Dolls, Jab Molassie, and Devil Mas.

Revellers will dance in the streets throwing and covering themselves with mud, paint and powder because the idea is to be dirty. Once the street party has finished revellers return home, clean themselves and dress up for Carnival Monday (lundi gras) festivities.

Adapted from Itz Caribbean
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