Before I start with this week's post, I want to let you all know that we are safe and sound in Bonaire (our blog always runs a bit behind where we actually are). Bonaire is an island just above Venezuela and is part of the Dutch Caribbean. It is more than 800km away from the track of Irma and is considered a "safe" place to be during hurricane season. That is why we are here at this particular time. While Bonaire has been brushed by tropical storms in the past, it is a very rare occurrence.
If you want to see where we are in real-time, you can go to the "Location" tab on this website and click "Current Location". For fun, once the map appears, try clicking on the "Satellite" button in the center at the top of the map. That will show you the Google Earth view. Zoom in and you can see where we are docked or anchored. It's a pretty cool feature!
Carnival in Grenada
Many of the Caribbean islands put on an annual carnival. They are staggered so partygoers can hop from one carnival to the next. Grenada has a whole series of events associated with its carnival, which is called SpiceMas. In typical Caribbean fashion, somethings go well and others, not so much. Some events, such as the Beauty Pageant, the Kids Carnival, the SOCA music competition and the steel band competition are held the week before the main, 2-day event.
While I really like Grenada, the only thing I can’t stand is their SOCA music. SOCA is short for “Soul of Calypso”, but to my ear, it doesn’t sound anything like the Calypso I know. When I Google SOCA, I can actually find some songs that I like, but they don't sound similar to the SOCA we hear in Grenada. SOCA in Grenada is pervasive. When you are riding the bus, SOCA is constantly blaring away. Most nights at the marina, SOCA was blasted from some restaurant or another. A popular Grenadian thing is to have enormous speakers on the back of flatbed trucks, cranked to the max. There are often multiple trucks, playing different SOCA songs at the same time. The richest guy in Grenada must be the one who owns the giant speaker franchise. In the week leading up to Carnival, the music at night was so loud the whole boat reverberated well into the wee hours of the morning. Enough said!
“Panarama”, a showcase of local steel drum bands (steel drums are called “Pans”), is held at the National Cricket Ground. A number of cruisers went to it. They got there at 6 p.m., the official start time. They sat for 4 hours, with periodic “thank you for your patience” calls over the loudspeaker. Nothing happened whatsoever, so they left at 10:00. The bands were all there, but apparently there were some “political” issues that caused the problem. In talking with locals, they said it’s “typical for Grenada – there’s always something political”.
“J’ouvert” (which means dawn or daybreak), also known in Grenada as “Jab Jab”, started at 4 a.m. in the morning. The SOCA music was incredibly loud and the street in front of where we are docked at Port Louis Marina ("PLM") was absolutely jammed with people covered head to foot in motor oil and paint, as is the Jab Jab custom. It was a sea of very slippery, drunken humanity. It cleared out by midday, but there was oil all over the street and all over the the grass. The marina was also an oil slick as many partygoers bathed in the lagoon. I have put some Jab Jab photos from the internet at the end of the photo gallery below.
There were a couple of parades that featured adults and children in fancy costumes. These were the ones that we were particularly interested in. All the parades run along the waterfront, right beside PLM, so it was very convenient for us to take in the sights.
Below is a video that Benny took of the parades. I was in charge of taking the still photos. I put some zoomed-in shots at the beginning so you can see the participants’ faces.