Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Come With Me To Pretty Mas Grenada, 2018

These people are trying to stay cool in the shade!
I can't help but compare Carnival here in Grenada to some of the big festivals and celebrations we have back in the States.  As small as the island is in comparison, these people really know how to put on a show!  All of the components are there, but it's very different and it shines a light on Grenada's most endearing quality... They just aren't in a hurry!

The transformation has been a long time coming, but I think we're getting closer to really being on Island Time!  Maybe we'll never truly achieve it.  We still get confused.  We still experience doubt... Today for instance.

We arrived here about an hour before the parade was "scheduled" to start.  Walking from the barricades where the street was closed off, we passed sound trucks and groups of parade participants and a mismatched bouquet of beautiful girls and guys strutting with attitude in no common direction.  

Are we in the right place?  There's not really a crowd here, maybe not.  We kept walking.  People in an array of costumes were milling about with only a few organized into groups. What's going on?  Did we miss it?

Are they DONE?  What's going on here???
This looks promising...
Now THAT's what I'm talkin'' about!

We began to see groups of performers and felt better about things.  Evidently we'd been walking through the staging area and groups were collecting here in preparation for the parade start.  All reports prepared us for a very late start, so maybe we hadn't missed it after all.

It was really hot and we were looking for a shady spot to stand when we found the other cruisers from our bay.  They were in the middle of a large crowd under the first large tree on the parade route. Somebody told us that the judging area was just across the street so this would be a good place to be, so we sat on the curb and waited for it to begin.  I was still confused about the fact that there weren't many groups organized  before the judging area, and SO many people milling about far past that point.  How does this work exactly???

This group of scary dudes in candy-corn costumes with heavy clogs was milling around literally in our faces.  They stomped their heavy shoes in unison and I began to notice from this close vantage point, that all of the costumes, including the clogs, seemed to be home-made.  I marvelled at the ingeniousness of it!

We never did see these guys in the parade!  Where did they GO???

The most organized groups had to be the Shortknees.  While parades back in the states often had a theme, here it seems that the theme is always the history of these islands, and the Shortknees go way back.  They wore mirrors on their tunics to protect them by reflecting back their enemies.  They wear screen masks and bells on their ankles, stomping in unison as they walk in undulating circles - rolling - as they proceed, which interestingly is where the term "rolling into town" is derived!  Learned something new!

The Shortknees do a call-and-answer chant that reflects the social issues of the day.  The powder they shower on people was a reward for gifts received, although I didn't see anyone giving them gifts today, so it's largely symbolic these days.  We watched them "roll" until we decided that we were in a bad spot for watching the parade and moved to the other side of the street.

Photo by Carrie on Griffin
The view was much better on this side of the street and there was no crowd walking in front of us, but it was HOT!  I used the umbrella to shade us, but the sun was beating down on us directly...  We stuck it out for a while...
Where are these people GOING???  The parade begins back there!
Feathers give a girl a certain confidence!
I'm not sure, but I think this woman was a witchdoctor!
Food and drink vendors serving local fare.
It didn't take long for us to bail on this sunny spot.  I was hungry so I talked Bruce into walking on up the street with me in search of food.  We went around the corner past the judging station and found a line of food vendors with the usual chicken & chips...  I had breadfruit with mine, while Bruce went with the fries.  I won that one... go with the breadfruit every time!

We made a wise choice in moving.  Here the sun was more to our side and we found a nice spot on a grassy hill with bushes for shade!  SCORE!  The judging stand was just up the road from us to our left (away from the sun) so we would see the parade as it was just done being judged and before it broke up.  Perfect!  Here we were joined by a woman from Trinidad who has lived in Grenada for about 20 years. She and her kids watched the parade with us and I asked her numerous questions.  She was very sweet and answered them all!  It was like having a parade narrator all to ourselves!

It was here that we enjoyed the parade in cool, breezy comfort!  Oh and FYI, I asked why everyone was wandering around town aimlessly instead of getting with their group...  It's because it's HOT.  The girls wander around to postpone the start, so that it will be a little cooler when they're done.  Yeah, makes no sense to me either!  Did I mention that Grenadians are not in a hurry?

We noticed a crowd gathered in the shade of the moving sound trucks!

Some of the girls had a LOT of energy left!

There were rolling bar trucks offering drinks to parade participants and spectators alike!
There were unexplained lulls in the parade and I don't remember seeing these littles before.  Did we miss something???
Gotta love Mom's outfit!

I LOVE their freedom!  I want a feather suit!!!
The sun shining through the feathers is wonderful!

Ooooh here comes something awesome!!!

Her shadow looks like a palm tree!!!
Wonder if I could find a place for this on the boat...
Yes, they ARE going in the wrong direction!
These girls are THIRSTY!  I can't believe they made it in this heat!
Is it over?  Are they done?  The parade seemed to have random starts and stops...

Finally the Shortknees come through!  Where have they been all this time???
We never did see this group all together...

Powder drifts in the afternoon sun.


They pose for a photo...
Then they dissolve into giggles!

Here they are!  This is the Pan Orchestra we went to see some weeks ago!  AWESOME Commancheros! Panorama Champs!

After the Commancheros (2018 Panorama Champions) passed, the parade seemed to break up.  There weren't any more organized groups in front of the judging station, so even though our narrator told us it wasn't over, we gathered our stuff and said our goodbyes.  We walked back up past the judges stand and found a whole bunch more parade squeezed into the area between the spots we were sitting earlier in the afternoon.  We would have been TRAMPLED had we remained where we were!

We drifted along right next to the parade route and found ourselves literally in the middle of it!  This would NEVER happen in the US!

This!  I want to be this girl when I grow up!
The parade was pressed into a pulsing ribbon of feathers and sequins!
While on our left side, we got to see the individual participants up close and personal!

This is the sound truck I would have been with at Monday Night Mas if I had gone... 
This little video clip gives you an idea of what it was like to walk through the dwindling parade!

She posed just for us!

Short Shortknees taking a break after the parade 
So that's it.  That is Pretty Mas. It's loud.  It's messy.  It's disorganised.  But it is real and it is close and it is accessible.  It's a colorful, sparkly, pulsing, fluffy, glittering extravaganza, in a laid-back-sort-of-way. And you know what?  I like it!  Here in Grenada there is no caution tape.  There are no policemen keeping you back away from the event.  People can interact and get involved and they just make it work with no rules!

After it was all done, we decided that we did Carnival just right.  I'm glad I didn't go to the Monday Night Mas after all... it was just a debauche for drinking and waiving light wands with loud music pounding.

We stopped and bought more chicken for the road!
The sun sets on Grenada Spicemas 2018
Takeaways:  J'Ouvert is awesome and not scary.  Pretty Mas is awesome in a whole different way. And most importantly...girl can never have too many feathers.

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