Throughout this year, I've helped many newbies secure last minute accommodation in Trinidad for Carnival C2K12, costumes in their preferred band and given enough advice on fetes, transport, safety and the overall vibe that is Trinidad Carnival. As such, to assist my newbies...and not so oldies (:D) in prepping for Trinidad Carnival 2012 and beyond, I've decided to summarise the issues and misconceptions thus far. So..here we go! a. Trinidad and Tobago is a 'poor' country. Yes, we're located in the Caribbean. Yes, yes we know that when you think of the Caribbean, you imagine blue waters, sedentary locals on the beach and/or on the road side, beer and people in shacks selling fruit. Forget that. When you think of Trinidad, think of 4 lane highways, multistorey buildings, cineplexes, malls, EXTREME nightlife (I swear it can be classed as an olympic sport) and the like. If you've decided to come to Trinidad and Tobago for Carnival, remove 'cheap' from your vocabulary and replace it with 'reasonable'. Expect to budget at least US$2000 (exclusive of airfare) for costume, accommodation, transport, fetes and food especially if you have no trini friends or 'links'. Additionally, this figure will only go up as Carnival approaches. So bite the bullet (and the crackers), buckle down and SAVE.
b. Carnival is February/March so I can start planning in January. Ha! If your idea of 'fun' is paying US$1000 for your airfare, sleeping in the Savannah, and rushing to get a last minute resale costume, then January is the perfect time for you to plan. Your carnival preparations should begin from Easter of the preceding year. Yes preceding = before. So, if you've decided to do Carnival 2013, April/May 2012 you should start scouting for airfare and booking hotels/ guesthouses. August to October is masband launches so you'll have to keep your eyes, ears and wallets on the lookout for your 'it' costume in whatever band you may choose. The earlier you decide to visit Trinidad for Carnival, the sooner you can start planning and making those downpayments. c. 'Trinis (and caribbean people in general) move slowly, so we could 'stick' when it comes to making payment' Go ahead and 'stick'...you'll be enjoying your carnival at home via an online carnival TV stream.lol. I've never seen Caribbean people move with the pace and sense of purpose as persons planning their Carnival festivities. Costumes, fete tickets, Accommodation can be gone in a matter of minutes if you and your crew decide to 'mull over' and list all the 'pros and cons' of having circular beads vs rectangular beads or that the hotel only offers 'two pillows per bed versus three'. While you 'mull over' these details, 10 people are vying for your spot. So in the months leading up to carnival, you need to exercise your index finger as much as your abs. You'll be using that finger to dial, click and type your way with faster than fast speeds to secure the perfect location, costume and fetes that will definitely shape your carnival.
d. I ONLY want a TRIBE and YUMA costume because we heard that this is where the 'beautiful people' are. I always advise ALL my newbie clients that there is a LARGE selection of medium to large mas bands. Yes TRIBE and YUMA have beautiful people, but they don't contain the ONLY beautiful people! Mas bands such as Oasis and Explosion have evened out the playing field offering beautiful costumes and stress free registration! If you've never tried it then you won't miss it! e. Trinidad is so small, their Carnival march/parade is probably 'around the corner'. Heh heh. Some words of advice. Exercise. Cardio. LOTS of it. Carnival in Trinidad is TWO days. Not one like many other island nations. You can expect to be jumping, humping, wining, waving, climbing (walls or people..whatever floats your boat) and drinking for a minimum of 10 hours EACH DAY! You don't want to come to Trinidad Carnival loaded on ihop and Burger King. Eat healthy and start your exercise regime at least 2-3 months before carnival. Get real, chances are you will not be as fit as those P90X people if you start your regime 3 weeks before Carnival.
f. This isn't serious, so i can change my mind whenever and how many times I like. Especially if you've solicited the help of a Carnival planner, this is a humongous 'no no'. Although the pace of your carnival preparations should be a bit high, every decision at every step of the way must be a committed, firm decision. You'll waste your time, your planner's time and the time of whoever else your planner is dealing with. So if you like a costume, make a firm decision to get it. If you need somewhere to stay, centre your chi or confer with your crew so that everyone is on the same path and planning will go smoothly. So if you've decided to come to Trinidad and Tobago for Carnival as a newbie, these are some few pointers that you should abide by (along with all the advice given by Trinidad Carnival Diary) to make your planning process smoother :)
-- The Carnival Connection "Your Portal to Regional Carnival"http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Carnival-Connection/146073992138398