|Some folks were already well into the spirit of it.
|Crowd at the sound truck! WILD!
A van full of intrepid revellers trundled through the dark, pre-dawn streets to be deposited in the thick of it - St. Georges, Grenada. There are lots of events held around the island that are all part of Carnival - or Spicemas Grenada. I wish we had the energy to attend them all, but we have to make our choice.
The meaning behind the J'Ouvert is from the French words for Day and Open. This is the "opening" event, or official kickoff for the final two days of Grenada's Carnival celebration, and it's held early in the morning, which is the best time of my day! When we arrived and walked down to the parade route, I suspected that for most of the revellers... it was the ending of their yesterday!
We found ourselves a spot on the sidewalk that was far enough away from the sound trucks and the bulk of the crowd that we could still hear ourselves think! We made one attempt to go down there and see what was happening, but the people were so jam-packed together, we soon lost our nerve and backtracked to sanity.
|Some guys had some Under-The-Counter Rum! They were happy to share it with us! (Photo Credit Mindy & Ron - Follow Me)
|LOL Evidently we had a lot of fun! (Photo Credit Ron - Follow Me)
|Getting my hair oiled! (Photo Credit Mindy & Ron - Follow Me)
|He got Mindy TOO! (Photo Credit Ron - Follow Me)
|He got us all before he moved on! (Photo Credit Ron - Follow Me)
That's enough of THAT! Back along the less-crowded part of the street, I was happy to watch the ebb and flow of colorful characters go by!
Getting oil and paint poured, splashed and wiped on you is just a fact of life. If you come to J'Ouvert, it is going to happen so you might as well embrace it! And embrace it I DID!
A guy came by and stopped, raising his container of oil to pour it over my head! I said "Not on my face!" and he said to cover my eyes. I put my hand over my eyes and felt the warm, thick oil as it slowly soaked into my hair and ran down my face. It was a moment in which time stopped and I felt like I was standing off, just watching this happen to me. I removed my hand and the guy gave me a hug, followed by a fist bump/fist to heart. We looked into each other's eyes and a feeling of kinship, respect and understanding passed between us. The total acceptance and recognition in that moment was warm and soft as the oil I now wore. This is what I came here for.
|Goofy guys playing to the silly tourists!
|The Islanders were happy to have their picture taken with us!
Running around the streets at dawn, surrounded by fearsome Jabs, a white person could get an uneasy feeling... While the frightful Jab Jabs - derived from Devil - do their best to look scary and gross, the sharing of oil and paint with us only brings us together on common ground. I felt honoured to be allowed to glimpse this part of their history, and I got the idea that they recognised it, not simply as another way that us white folk are trying to "steal" their holidays, but as the sign of respect and acknowledgement that we meant it to be. We have literally placed ourselves at their mercy and been brought gently into the fold where we all partied as one. It just makes me fall even more in love with this island.
|You get oiled with a hug sometimes... Mindy had to tell me NO MORE HUGS! (Photo Credit Mindy & Ron - Follow Me)
|A mom and dad lugging the suitcase with their "burden"
|Babies were symbolised more often than you would think.
|Little too much revelling! The oil slicked the street so that this man had a hard time getting back up, so he sat there...
|Not wishing to be helped, he shares his oil. Still sitting there!
|After the sun came up, the parade began to move.
We retreated back up the block a short distance, but eventually realized we could not outrun it. We turned to face it and just watch in wonder as the crescendo reached us once again.
|See that look??? (Photo Credit Mindy & Ron - Follow Me)
|Three coats - oil - rust - PINK!
Sometimes it was a thick, messy hug that left our chest imprinted with more oil or paint. Sometimes it was a hand dipped into a bucket and the paint wiped on us or slung at us like an artist creating a modern masterpiece. We all looked different, yet the same. Covered in humility that brought us all together in fun.
|She's got it easy!
|Lisa and Joey happy to be alive!
With plenty of time to spare, we went back down the oil drenched streets to stand on the fringes once again where we watched the party continue to ramp up. We would be leaving in less than an hour, but something tells me that this party is nowhere near over!
|Street was slick with oil, I had to walk on the side or slip!
|Lots of Jab Jabs here!
|The future Jab Jabs in training!
The other half of our van group rejoined us here. There were just too many people for us to all stay together. It was a zoo! Here we could stand on the sidelines and watch what appeared to be the judging or end of the parade. There was music and some dancing. There were some call-and-answer numbers that I wished we knew! It was wonderful to watch the crowd all raising their hands in unison!
|The guy on the ground was "swimming" in oil!
|Keep in mind this boy has probably been awake for 24 hours or more and partying hard!
|A little Jab Angel seems to be fading fast!
|I wonder if those wings began this day WHITE!!!
|Ken gets some help with the oil in his eyes!
|A nice cooling rain begins to fall!
|What's going on here... I retreated fast!
|Yeah... SEE YA!
We laughed and relived the highlights of the morning while we drove through the back streets to avoid the hellacious traffic near the waterfront. When we returned to the main road and turned the wrong way... we were all pretty much game for whatever came next. Has Patrick been awake too long and forgotten where he was going? Nope, he had a surprise for us!
|Grand Anse Beach in the morning
|Chicken, bakes, potato salad and drinks all await at this cute little locals hangout on Grand Anse Beach
We descended like a heard of hungry locusts upon this little snack shack on the beach. What a treat! Patrick really knows how to show us a good time and always has a little surprise up his sleeve. I had a bake and some much needed water, while others had a full-on brunch. I knew I would have to feed Bruce when I got home, so I entertained myself taking in the beauty of this place. Put this on the list of places to visit... SOON!
Well, that's it. My first J'Ouvert is history and I survived it. I wish Bruce had come with me but he would NOT have survived it! Not only did I survive it, but I came away from it feeling an even deeper connection to this island. It entertains me to think about my friends and family back in the States, and wonder what they would think about all of this. I'm sure there will be more than a few raised eyebrows and the question... WHAT WAS I THINKING???
|On the list for later this week when we need some R&R