I am happy to report that we survived Carnival in Trinidad. Actually, the worst part of all (without a negative connotation) was the volume level of the music being played. Speaking of the sound systems, the music was blasted out of industrial quality speakers like those used at rock concerts. The speakers and electronics were mounted onto open sided 18 wheel tractor trailers, each with a separate diesel powered generator to produce the electricity that was required to power the electronics that created sound levels between 115dB (decibels) and 120dB. To put that into perspective, pain for a listener starts at 125dB and a jet engine at full power reaches @140dB. Each truck had multiple stacks of Wharfdale industrial grade amplifiers generating thousands of watts power. As a former audiophile and stereo salesman (yea, back when music was first invented), these systems were sweet!
These sound trucks are not only awesome music delivery platforms, they are expensive to boot. Marlin, one of the sound guys on one of the trucks said to me (in his Trini Creole accent), "Wit dat ting you could buy t'ree houses here in Trinidad!" Imagine 50 or more of these trucks simultaneously playing different music at high volumes, all across Port-of-Spain? From the balcony of our friend's condo (at Carnival's peak) it all came together and sounded like a loud dull roar with nothing really distinguishable as music. But I could feel the bass all the way up on the 15th floor.
Carnival is a gathering of people formed into what are called "bands". Each band has their own team name (i.e., Tribe, Bliss, et al), their own color scheme and their own band song. Everyone in a band is decked out in an array of mostly feathered costumes of vibrant colors. For the larger bands, there were up to 4 of the sound trucks all spaced about a block apart. The music was controlled by a DJ on a laptop who was situated in the front-most truck. The playlist was then transmitted to the other trailing trucks over UHF wireless so that they were all synched to the same music selection. Very high-tech to say the least.
|"Winding" at Carnival in Trinidad|
Lastly, I must say that Carnival in Trinidad was not what I had expected; it was much better! In spite of the non-stop revelry (and more than a little alcohol consumption), it was quite civil, very organized, safe and secure. Though many wear the skimpiest of costumes, I saw absolutely no nudity. You will see more on any weekday in New Orleans!! There is this thing called "winding" (pronounced wine-ing) that is quite suggestive, but it is much more of a dance move than anything else? I have found that the people of Trinidad come together once a year for this big party with a high level of mutual respect for one another and to preserve a now 50 year tradition on this island. It was a great experience and I am glad that I was able to enjoy a unique Trinidad celebration.