Cruise — As told to Diane M. Byrne
— April 2003
The Time of Their Lives, Part III
“The Time of Their Lives” in our April issue featured excerpts from the diary of Betty, who, along with her husband Scott, 13-year-old daughter Kate, and Kate’s teacher Michelle, set off last summer on a remarkable 10-month exploration aboard the 109-foot charter yacht Askari. Elsewhere on our site we’ve posted those diaries as well as additional ones from Betty (click here to read them), but here we present some writings from Kate. She, with Michelle’s help, regularly sent e-mail updates home to her fellow students and set up a Web site to educate them about the locales they were visiting.
We were also impressed with the friendliness and welcoming nature of the Trinidadians. We encountered many wonderful people, including Sterling, a taxi driver who took us to numerous places. He proudly shared his knowledge of Trinidadian culture. Each day Sterling picked us up, he brought a new food or treat for us to try. He knew exactly where to find the best peanut ice cream and the greatest rotis, a huge, tortilla-like wrap that Trinis fill with mango, chicken, chickpeas, and curry. Although the food was outstanding, we quickly realized there was more to Trindad’s culture than great cuisine and friendly people.
One huge aspect is the outrageous celebration on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, known as Carnival. These two sleepless days are filled with wild fun, lots of alcoholic consumption, elaborate costumes, and great live music. What originated in the 1800’s as entertainment for slaves and free people of color has turned into the Caribbean’s most famous celebration. Carnival is such a major cultural event that many people begin costume preparation as early as December of the previous year.
However, the detailed costumes and social gatherings are not the main attraction. The Steel Pan competitions are, by far, the most impressive part of the massive street parades, where Calypso bands from all over the island play their hearts out in an effort to win the title of Steel Band of the Year. Originating in Trinidad in the 1940’s during the Calypso Era, the idea of steel pans emerged from various groups beating melodies on bamboo and biscuit tins. These instruments later evolved into huge steel pans, made out of hollow oil drums that were discarded by GIs during World War II. Today steel pans are still created from empty oil drums of various sizes, producing different notes according to the dimensions of the pan.
This article originally appeared in the March 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.