Sunday, February 14, 2016

Carnival 2016 Trinidad - J'ouvert

Group Rock D Boat J'ouvert costume
*J’ouvert or Jouvay is at the heart of Trinidad carnival, and is also celebrated in other Eastern Caribbean islands. The name J’ouvert originates from the French jour ouvert, meaning day break or morning, and signals the start of the bacchanalia that is Carnival.

Rock D Boat info sheet
J'ouvert is highly traditional and full of symbols culture and heritage. It is steeped in tradition and playing mud mas involves participants known as Jab Jabs. covering themselves – from head to toe – and others in paint, chocolate, mud, white powder or anything for that matter. It is J'ouvert custom that everybody gets involved and it’s common to see a newcomer being hugged by a muddy revelers.

Times and route for this group
This traditional part of Carnival starts at around 2 in the morning and finishing after sunrise. Calypso and soca music are the dominating sounds of J'ouvert in Trinidad the mass of revellers takes the street party winning and chipping their way to The Savannah in Port of Spain in the early hours of Lundi Gras, before the daytime carnival parades.

Before Sarah, Anna, Sarah and me

The roots of J'ouvert in Trinidad go back 200 years, with the arrival of French plantation owners. The French never colonized Trinidad, however elements of their culture remained. J’ouvert evolved from the Canboulay festivals in the 1800’s, which were night time celebrations where the landowners dressed up and imitated the negres jardins (garden slaves). Following emancipation the newly freed slaves took over canboulay, now imitating their former masters imitating them.
Making short on Anna - good for chipping

Canboulay revellers, who carried lighted cane torches, were seen as a potential risk by the authorities, and the tension mounted leading to the Canboulay riots. It was eventually banned, and then was re established as Jouvert.
sv Giraffe  - Anna Chipping
 We didn't go with a formal J'ouvert group.  Instead 11 of us (6 boats) went into Port of Spain just after midnight (to beat the traffic) and just roamed about.

David and Sarha sv Capt
There was already a mass of people down on Ariapita Ave.  It didn't take long for us to break into smaller groups. 

sv Cape - Bryn
Wayne, Jean Louis, Bryn, Anna and Peter went one way.

Crew of sv Cape
David, Sarah, Terry, Sarah, Tom and I went another way.  Soon David and Sarah went off yet another way.  It wasn't hard to do with some many people.  We spotted our first Big Truck (flatbed 18 wheeler with nothing but  speakers and a bigass generator to run them blasting Soca music).  The truck was followed by 1000+ people in that group, wearing t-shirts and hats of that group, covered in paint or mud or coco and dancing/chipping/wining through the streets.  Food, beverage, paint and tinkle truck followed.  Yes, that is what they are called "Tinkle Truck." 

We would watch them pass and then jump up following along chipping/dancing/wining as we went.  Then another Big Truck with another group would come by the other way and we would jump up with that group.  These trucks and groups slowly snaked their way through the streets in various directions.

sv Libertine Sarah and Terry, Tom and me - after waiting for our ride home
Many times the people in the groups would come up and dance/wine/grind with us and thus paint us.  We returned the favor.  No one was throwing paint. It's shared through dancing and gentle wipes on the arms, legs, face with the person's knowledge.  No paint fights, no scuffles.   

Me, Sarah, Anna, Peter and Wayne - After
It's basically a HUGE street party that moves through the streets until around 8am in the morning.  Then everyone disburses and tries to find rides home through gridlock traffic as other flood in for the Monday Mas Parade.

Jean Louis - After
By 9:30 am our paint had dried but our driver didn't take any chances.  He covered the seats of his car with plastic bags so we wouldn't get paint on the inside.

Ann (Sv Receta) part of the Coco Group
Tom wore ill-fitting swim trunks and an old K-State T-shirt which he simply threw away after.  I wore T-shirt that I had cut up for the occasion, old faded shorts and an old swim suit under both.  We arrived back in Chaguaramas and immediately jumped in the showers at Power Boats.  We scrubbed the worse off and then headed back to the boat for some sleep.  Later we took proper showers but even then the next day and even the following, we were still finding little areas of paint.     

Ann (sv Receta) and Debbie (sv Taka Trois) coco girls

It was an unique, interesting and fun event.  I am glad we took part.

AFTER -Front of my J'ouvert costume

AFTER - Back of my J'ouvert costume

*Historical information about J'ouvert came from this web site 
*Special thanks to Sarah on sv Cape for her pics and whoever took the pics of Ann and Debbie.

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