The pulsating beat of the music leads you into the heart of the Parade, into the square where giants on stilts pretend to frighten the kiddies, ghosts and ghouls lunge at the children to scare them, and the pinks, turquoises, reds, blues and yellows take on a life of their own as their owners dress up on the sidewalk. Tomorrow is the adult's Parade, but today is for the children and the adults who are in charge of them, a dazzling display of fancy-dress in a fun setting.
Trinidad's Alternative Carnival - Caribbean Odyssey
It's not all bump and grind, adults gyrating to samba beat and heavy consumption of alcohol. There's the Children's Carnival just a day or two before the main one.
A Family Day Out
All the fun of the carnival for parents, grandparents and babes in arms
Buses and taxis, cars and pick-up trucks unload whole families in the car parks and along the coast road. Children are being dressed in their carnival gear wherever the transport had fetched up, prams are being lifted down and babies wearing their very finest satins and silks are strapped in ready to join in the parade with the proud parents
Those who have whistles blow them, those who have none just clap and shout, and steel bands set up at street corners add to the cacophony of noise. The atmosphere is exhilarating. The ice-cream man is doing a roaring trade, the water-seller has crates of the stuff hanging precariously from the handlebars of his bicycle, and the soft-drinks merchants are already sending off for more supplies. Yet, the place is tidy. Teams of broom-handlers sweep the pavements and keep the streets free from litter, trash cans are placed at very convenient spots all over the town, and there is a feeling of communal pride in this pre-Lenten carnival.
Silks and Satins in Brilliant Colour rule the day.
No TV influences here, the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is Pure Caribbean
There were bees, there were snails, there were butterflies, dancing girls, angels and a few devils prancing on the sidelines, all gloriously bedecked in silks and satins - the brighter the better. Children in pink satin crinolines happily mixed in with those in orange coloured insect costumes. Boys in red, white and blue marching band type uniforms marched along in tandem with those in red and gold Chinese costumes.
Alongside them walked many of the mothers, some with push-chairs containing the youngest member of the family, too small to walk the route. The occasional dad was there shouting encouragement, but on the whole, the men kept well to the sidelines. And there were smiles of welcome everywhere and no sense of hostility.
And that was what was so amazing. Trinidad used to be a rather edgy place, and Port au Prince a town that was, shall we say, a bit uncaring about litter and rubbish in the streets and not always given to extending the hand of friendship to visitors. Now this prosperous island, grown rich on oil, has developed a community spirit which extends to offering visitors a welcome that includes free WiFi in the terminal buildings with rum punches served as you surf the web, a really friendly welcome from everyone and smiles all round. Like Dubai, they are conscious that they will need to replace oil earnings with tourism one day soon and they are making preparations now.
But meantime, the Carnival rolls on, tomorrow the adults have their turn, and then everything is packed away for another year, or until we find another reason to get out the glad rags and party the night away.