When I look back at my carnival journey and the individual journeys of my crew, I realized that we all pass through different levels of experience as tourists who travel for carnival. I’ve summarized the levels or “ranks” as best I can. Tell me if you agree.
We have all either been one or seen one. Inappropriately dressed, wide eyed, stuck to one spot in the corner, wining off key and in the wrong direction and having the time of their lives in the floppest of fetes. The carnival noob is literally helpless without the assistance of their crew or a carnival concierge.
On their own they can’t find reasonable accommodation, can’t get fete tickets, transport or food. Left to their own devices their fete lists are a disaster with no good fetes. From being shocked to discover the concept of an all inclusive fete to wrapping their minds around taking a wine and just moving along, all aspects of carnival for the noob, both good and bad, are a spectacular world of discovery, happiness and joy.
Carnival apprentice (prento)
With a carnival (or 2 under their belt) the noob is no longer a noob. They can wine with the best of ’em and know the songs the INSTANT they are released. Plans for the next carnival are started while on the flight home from the last. They now know bad fetes different from epic fetes and have heard the stories. They know what fete tickets they want but the issue is how to get them.
By now they are part of a crew. A WhatsApp chat (or 2 or 3 or…) has been joined and their carnival network is starting to expand. This phase of their carnival career is where year after year they have better and better carnival experiences. They start to perfect fete lists. They start to recognize faces everywhere they go and the carnival world is their oyster. They can pull their weight in the carnival group helping to find accomodations and dutifully following instructions to ensure they keep up with the crew to have yet another great experience.
By this time they are now the leader of their own little band of carnival apprentices. Capable of identifying good fetes from bad at a simple glance of a flyer. Hard to get tickets a problem for the prento and noob? Not for the Jedi. Just a few well worded WhatsApp messages into the carnival ether and the tickets are magically available (“but you have to pay NOW!”).
The most convenient and cozy accomodations…yu deh deh! The best and hottest fetes….unnu deh deh! Able to plan a carnival trip for 10 persons including transport, accomodations, fete list and road within 3 hours!
Rise Jedi knight!
Carnival Grand Master
Gone are the days when you hurriedly planned in advance to score the best costume, fete tickets and accomodations. Now those petty worries don’t concern you. Flight will always be there. You muss find ah place to stay. Your fete ticket links are infinite! “Dem tings dere can plan later.”
Is like you own carnival. When you walk into the fete the promoter comes over to hail you up and thanks you for passing through. You look around and recognize 2/3rds of the people in the fete from the hundreds of fetes that have gone before.
You enjoy the vibes and focus mainly on trying to remember everything….because by now, all your carnival memories are smooshed together into one, like a million little blobs of play doh mushed into one psychedelic kaleidoscope plasticine ball.
Despite your years of experience and joy you look at the prentos that surround you with a little bit of envy, wishing you could reclaim that joy and wonder. Wishing that every year was still better than the last.
This is the time when, for a few, it’s time to move on from simply experiencing carnival to creating a carnival experience for others. Be it a concierge with a twist or a fete, a transport company or something completely new. For some it’s time to give back to the carnival experience that brings them so much joy.