Grenada Carnival

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WOW! Mal and I have had a fantastic time over the past weekend as it was Carnival time in Grenada! This means shops are shut for a few days and everyone celebrates this annual event.

Typical Steelpan drum
Band members from a 2010 Panorama

Saturday night started out with Panorama: the final National judging of the Steelpan bands. Historically, the sound from Steelpan bands is the basis for Calypso music. During the French Revolution (1789) many French planters in Martinique and their slaves emigrated to Trinidad including a number of West Africans and French Creoles from Saint Vincent, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Dominica. Carnival arrived with the French, but the slaves could not take part so they formed their own parallel celebration called canboulay. In the 1880s the percussion music of canboulay was banned but after many years, in 1937, it reappeared in the form of an orchestra made from frying pans, dustbin lids and oil barrels. They are built using sheet metal with a thickness between 0.8 mm and 1.5 mm. Traditionally, steelpans have been built from used oil barrels. The note’s size corresponds to the pitch – the larger the oval the lower the tone. Drums vary in size and in how many notes have been incorporated into the drum. Some of the bands have up to 125 members and they can really rock the stadium! We had a great night.

Sunday was a slow, quiet day, other than volleyball. The night however wasn’t so quiet. In the early hours of Monday morning we had a mass of lightning, thunder and rain. We were glad we hadn’t committed to getting up at 4am for J’Ouvert. Traditionally Jab-Jab or Devil-Mas bands celebrate before dawn dabbing oil, body-paint and/or chocolate onto locals, and tourists if willing, and dance through the streets to the rhythms of accompanying drums, steel bands and calypsos from huge DJ trucks.

In the afternoon we made our way over to St George’s to watch Pageant Mas: a parade through the streets of different regional groups dressed in amazing costumes and again, accompanied, by huge DJ trucks playing very loud calypso music. This was fantastic, we had such a great time. From the very young to the old, no matter your size or shape, everyone can participate. There are no problems with body-image in Grenada. Vendors on the side of the street sell beer, rum punch, water, ice cream, chicken wings, popcorn, etc. It is full of happiness and fun with no violence or bad behaviour. In the evening there is yet another parade and the final celebration is the big parade on the Monday afternoon. Very similar to the previous day but this is where the judging occurs for the best performances (dancing and costumes) so it’s really full-on. A characteristic of the Grenada parade seems to be the “twerking” – I tell you, Miley Cyrus has nothing on these girls and guys. Other cruisers who have attended Carnivals in other countries say it seems to be unique to the Grenada Carnival.

Now Carnival has ended, everyone is chilling out. People are getting back to their normal lives whether it be doing boat maintenance, cooking, reading, swimming, volleyball, river tubing, yoga, dominoes, cooking classes, beading, hashing, geocaching or just catching up on sleep. Our American and Canadian friends call it “Camp Grenada”. Personally, I’ve been buying some interesting fruit, experimenting with cooking, finishing book 3 of Game of Thrones and expanding my beading expertise to include anklets. The waterlemon is interesting: it’s pulp is like a passionfruit but it has a delicate perfume to it. Bergamot is alot like a lime but way stronger. The bananas are to die for and we have mangoes aplenty! A description will appear if you hover the mouse over the photos or just click for larger images.

So, from Camp Grenada, bye from Sue & Mal. xx

PS: Some info and photos were obtained from Wikipedia and


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