Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Annual Easter Goat Races in Tobago - Day Two

Go, go, go, go, go, gooooooo
Day one definitely made an impression on us.  Tom dreamt about goat last night.  Too funny.  Now that we had Day One under our belt, we knew a little bit more what to expect and we prepared a tad more. Hats-check, umbrellas for shade-check, sunscreen for reapplication-check, pen for recording race results-check, water-check, rum-check.  We departed our boats around noon, caught a P car and arrived 15 mins later.  This time to the city of Bucoo for the 91st Annual Bucoo Goat and Crab Race Festival!  91 years!!  Serious stuff.
Bucoo Goat Racing stadium
So serious that in Bucoo they have a fancy stadium just for Goat Racing.  We had seen it previously when we were in Bucoo for Sunday School - aka weekly street party.  Let me tell you, this stadium is NICE.  We arrived just before the first race - island time is a given.  However, unlike the day before, the main stands were nearly full.  Whoa!  We headed to the uncovered stands which were along the track between the finish line and the starting gate.  The paddock is an actual building on the grounds - not a tent like the day before.  The only tents were the food and beverage tents set up on the far side.  There was a huge stage where a male and female announcer kept us informed and entertained throughout the day.  There was also a big screen next to the stage so we could see things happening on the stage better but more importantly so we could see the finish line close up and get instant replays in slow motion of the finish - awesome!  FYI -this was handy as there was more than one photo finish in Day Two racing.  Additionally, a professional news team was broadcasting track side across from the stands we were in.  They did crowd interviews and such.  Someone mentioned that the actual races are also broadcasted in Tobago but I am not 100% sure on that one.  There was even a drone above the track off and on throughout the day.  The track is still grass.  I assume that is the best surface for goats and jockeys.  All in all this facility made good impression on us from the start for Day Two racing. 
Owners bring the goats to the track for the next race
The bugler tells us it's almost race time

See how they can get all bunched up on one side of the track
Injured jockey
 There were 15 Goat Races total including the Champ of Champs race.  Only two children's foot races.  In between Goat Racing, there were cultural events as well as crowd involvement events with giveaways.  
Old west cowboy - I don't know why
Fake Gun fight - I don't know why
?? They were handing out Easter eggs -  Easter pimps?
Think Harlem Globetrotter but with only one guy and a soccer ball
It's Superman and Batman - of course it's blury, they are superheros
One such event was the international beer drinking contest.  A handful of macho guys volunteered for that.  They were surprised to find it was not a guzzle down beers shotgun style contest like most beer drinking contest but instead finishing two beers via straws - ahhh......not so macho now and not so easy!  
Showing the crowd the crabs used for the crab racing
Crab "chippin" - go go silly crab - No, not that way.  The other way
Turns out crabs don't really go in a straight line
The crab races were another event that took place mid way through the day.  We were not so excited about these.  As I said in a previous post, where is the skill and training in crab race?   Train the crab to race into my pot and then I will be impressed!  As suspected, upon seeing the actual racing, there is no skill in crab racing.  A big bin of crabs was brought out, each crab had a small string around it that acted as a leash.  Each constant tried to get their crab to cross the finish line first on a very, very short track.  They were not allowed to drag it or lift it up in any way but rather they stomped their feet on each side of the crab trying to get it to go.  I suggested to a local guy that it was "crab chipping" aka like traditional chipping (Trini dancing) but with crabs.  It took him a minute to get it but then he thought it was funny - worth a chuckle at least.  All in all, the crab races were just a silly distraction.  And that is ok.  We took the opportunity to go to the bathrooms, get potato wedges and another cool beverage.  
Getting race advice - "I going for Born To Run - I think he's going to win"
Jumping for bubbles from the big bubble machine is always fun
Overall Day Two had a much more professional feel to it.  There were still many, many families in attendance.  
From across the track we watched this woman work ALL day making roti's and buss up's
She made gigantic roti skins on the big flat griddle on the left - yum
With our pen we closely tracked the race results and started looking for winning patterns in goats/owners/jockeys.  We didn't see any official betting either day.  A large group of families next to us Day Two were doing small bets amongst themselves.  Prior to each race, we each picked our winner and then cheered them on when the gates opened.  It was fun and exciting.  Prize money was similar to the day before it not a bit more.  We were determined to stay to the end on Day Two.  The Champ of Champs Race went off at 21:06.  Flash Light - the goat I picked won.  Woo hoo!  
Sometimes the racing goats pulled the jockeys down the track towards the starting gate
GOoooo Flash Light - Winning goat
Racing Goats are tall
"Let's go already" says Mr Racing Goat - not his real name
We hung around a bit longer because there was a free concert after by Trini Soca star Olatunji.  One of my favorite Soca stars.  Of course it took a bit for him to take the stage so we only stayed for two or three songs.  
Olatunji - Ola

Upon exiting the Goat Racing stadium, we found a full street party gearing up.  This was going to be massive.  However, we were tired an decided it was time to head home.  It took us a bit to get a P car, in the mean time more and more people were pouring into Bucoo.  We got back to our boats around 23:00 and fell into solid Goat Racing sleep.
Bucoo party central - Goat Races AND "Sunday School"
I don't know if we are oddballs or what because we were so excited to see the Goat Races.  Wait.....yes I do....we are oddballs.  Regardless, we thoroughly enjoyed the Tobago Goat Races.  It was an absolute hoot.  Both days.  And while both days were different, we did see some themes carry through Day One and Day Two.  Many locals and Trinidadians have made this an Easter tradition.  Families, groups of families and groups of friends turned out to enjoy the events along with us tourists.  And everyone really did enjoy it......being there IN the day.  We saw very few people on their smart phones.  Really!  Even teens and kids seemed to be into the day vs texting.  Really!  It was shocking.  I said it was a hoot (and it was) but actually the long history of these events gave it a deeper, authentic feel.  Through this unusual two day event, we got a closer look at a rich, vibrant and varied culture.      

Goat named Obama
PS -
Omg - I can't believe I almost forgot to tell you.....there was a racing goat both days called Obama.  Yes!  And I know there are some of you that want to input a bunch of political jokes here.  Don't.  Keep them to yourselves.  While I agree a goat named Obama is worth at least a smile or a small giggle, I am not publishing those types of comments.  I thought it was pretty cool.

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