Well, I've been home for a week now and BOYYYY has this week sucked. With the incredible weather I experienced in Jamaica, coming back to ice-rain and snow really sucks lemons. The usual carnival tabanca burns, but when you have to endure an extended Canadian winter - it burns just a tad bit more.
Jamaica was awesome. Between the plethora of incredibly attractive men and women, the amazing food, my fill of dancehall music and perfect weather I can say my heart is full. Here is a daily recap of all the shenanigans that happened during my time in Kingston, Jamaica!
Thursday, April 5, 2018
This day started exceptionally early. Our flight to Kingston was at 1:30am from Pearson Airport. It was myself, my best friend Jummy and our friend Kyra en route for this carnival. There really isn't any excitement for this part of the journey except that we met up with some other friends at the airport and seven of us decided to do shots of rum on an empty stomach before boarding. Awesome. I should add, I was sick when we began this journey. In my head, I figured taking a shot would maybe clear my sinuses up a little.
Wrong. I was wrong. As we were descending into Kingston for the FIRST time in all my years of flying - my ears began to hurt. I had never felt such a strong pressure and pain in my head as I did in that moment. This feeling ended up lasting a day and a half, I was partially deaf until Friday afternoon.
So we land in Kingston at 4:30am and our driver is nowhere to be found. Not exactly the greatest sign of things to come, but, luckily I called him and woke him up and he said he was on his way. Around 5:15am our driver (David) arrived and we began our journey out to Havendale where our AirBnB was located. I will say, driving through Kingston at sunrise was incredible to see. It was already 26 degrees outside and you could feel the city waking up with it. Great feeling at the time.
Our AirBnB was HUGE. This place had a kitchen, living room, a downstairs bathroom, two bedrooms upstairs (with an en suite bathroom in each one) and a big front yard. Probably one of the best choices we made was to stay in this particular AirBnB. Our host Barrington was awesome as well, he was easy to call at all times and super helpful checking us in at 5:30am.
All three of us took a nap at this point because we knew a long ass day was ahead of us.
Noon. Time to get up and get to moving. The first place we were off to was to pick up our tshirts and wristbands for AMBush (j'ouvert). Luckily, this part was very straightforward and organized. We were in and out in no time. Unfortunately, our next pick up was our costumes for Xodus and that didn't begin until 3pm. Naturally, we went to get food in between all of this. Found a place called 'Mothers' and threw my whole face into some jerk chicken and festival. My body was ready for this. Delicious.
We get over to Xodus now for our costume pick up and we sure were lucky arriving when we did. I was #27 on the wait list for pickup upon arrival, within six minutes the girl who sat down next to me was #64. Yikes. I was fortunate because my costume pieces and everything were bless for pick up, although I didn't know until then that my costume was actually a one-piece? Fine. I can deal. Also, I loved the duffel bag we got for our goodie bag from Xodus!! I should note the back piece to my frontline costume was massive. This was my first time playing frontline and holy crap, I knew I'd look fabulous for my pictures but that no way all of these pieces would last long on me. (Fast forward to Sunday, I was right.)
Unfortunately, my friend Kyra was having some issues with her cage bra fitting so we ended up having to wait a little longer for that to be fixed at the mas camp. From there we had to speed back to our AirBnB, shower, get changed and head off to our first event. AFloat boat ride starting at 5:30pm.
I had a good time on this boat cruise. The vibes were nice, the sunset views were awesome and there was some slackness on the boat as well. My kind of party. It was a good way to kick off the partying for Jamaica. As someone who loves rum, the only two rums I do not like are Appleton and Wray & Nephew. As you can imagine, being in Jamaica this put me at a disadvantage at all the all-inclusive parties we bought tickets for. I drank Johnny Walker and Coke at AFloat. It wasn't so bad..... I guess. Not like I died, so I'll take the win.
As soon as we disembarked from AFloat - race home, shower, change, off to Tribe Ignite for 11pm. This party was OK. I think I was just feeling it a little bit from being sick and the flight, being deaf and then the post-AFloat tipsiness. The best part of the night is we got to see our friend Sherry at the jam and that Kerwin and Kes performed, which is always a treat.
We went to leave Ignite and a random man at that point decided to try and swerve by telling me I look 16. What? I wasn't sure at the time if I was more offended that he cut my age in half or that he might be attracted to 16 year olds? How did we get here? DAVID!!!! Time to take us home.
Friday, April 6, 2018
Candy Coated time! I love this boat ride. I loved it in Barbados and I was super excited to go to it in Jamaica. We arrived at around 11am and I think we finally sailed at noon. The most important thing you need to know is - THE FOOD! Omg the food selection on this boat was incredible. As soon as we got on the boat there was ackee and saltfish along with rasta pasta. As the boat ride went on there was curry goat and some jerk chicken as well. It is mid-afternoon in Jamaica, you are drinking a high dosage of rum punch, eating jerk chicken and dancing to soca with hundreds of other people.
Great feeling. Fun boat ride. I will say, this was one of the key moments where I had to stop myself from comparing Jamaica carnival to that of Cropover in Barbados. Sometimes you just have to accept that everyone does things differently or in their own individual way. I was use to Barbados being really hype up and slackness while in Jamaica they really prefer their groovy soca. Don't get me wrong, I love soca but power soca and bashment soca is my fave. I just expected it to be different. It wasn't just this party either, at AFloat, Tribe and on road there really was a preference to play groovy soca. Foreign concept to me.
One VERY different thing in Jamaica was also the presence of weed absolutely everywhere in the open. At the Candy Coated boat ride they even gave away their own Candy Coated spliffs with their goodie bags. Although I am not a smoker, it was kind of a nice talking piece seeing how happy those around me were with these extra item in their goodie bags.
After Candy Coated we realized that we had no food back at our AirBnB and that we would need to have some fuel before we hit the road that night for AMbush.
Let me give you all a GREAT TIP OK? If you are outside in a fishnet top, or a bathing suit with a thong and cover up - DO NOT go to the grocery store. Don't do it. Somehow it seemed like a great idea for us to go in such outfits to a grocery store in the middle of the afternoon to get food after a boat ride. I cannot even begin to tell you the kinds of looks we got from the workers and the patrons at the store. There was definitely someone in there who was going to ask for penance on behalf of us in church that Sunday. What a spectacle.
It was time to try and get some more sleep before what was going to be an exceptionally long Saturday night-morning-afternoon-evening.
Saturday, April 7, 2018
You thought Thursday was long? Thursday ain't got shit on what our Saturday looked like.
First of all, we wake up for Jummy to make us some eggs and bacon before we hit the road for AMbush. So, the fire stove wouldn't turn off. We tried all the knobs, we Skyped my mom, nothing - we could not turn off this damn stove. Finally we had to call the owner of the AirBnB to yes, turn a knob off for us. We found out it wasn't us being dunce, it was the knob being a damn knob. Crisis averted.
David picked us up at 1:30am to take us to where AMbush was being held in the parish of St. Catherine. I have no idea what we were thinking arriving so promptly for a party that goes until 8am. I think we finally boarded the shuttle to get to the liquor trucks/music trucks around 3am? Waste. Could have been sleeping more. When the party picked up though? WHAT A TIME. I can see why people like attending AMbush now. When the liquor hits you, its nighttime, there's paint in your eye and your unmentionables..... you're really in for a good time.
People were throwing paint everywhere! I was covered head to toe but it was nice because unlike the j'ouvertish event I do in Barbados, the paint they use here was water-based. So I didn't turn all crunchy and stiff from the paint. I loved every minute of this party. To top it off, when we were leaving at 6:30am, we were one of the first people to get to their food tents that were set up post-party to enjoy. I didn't know that was a thing? Imagine? You're exhausted, its 6:30am, you can only taste paint and now you walk up to like 7 tents of all you can eat food that is included in your ticket price? Heaven. This is heaven. I must have slipped on some paint and died and gone to heaven. Largest doubles I had ever seen in my life were consumed at this moment.
Our driver had actually slept in his car for the duration of the party so he whisked us away ASAP so we could get back to our AirBnB for 7:30am and leave for our next party at 9:00am.
As you'll see in the pictures below, I deadass went from ugly swamp creature to princess in a matter of an hour. This is probably as girly as any of you will ever seen me, so take it in. You're welcome. Usually it would take me about an hour or so to get the paint off of me, but this time it was just washing off so easily. Not to say I wasn't finding random specks of green paint in my ears for days after, but at that moment I was as clean as I could be.
We were picked up at 9:00am and made our way to Constant Spring Golf Course to attend a party called Sunrise Breakfast Fete which is considered the crown jewel of events for carnival in Jamaica. All-inclusive food and liquor. Massive space. I won't pretend like I didn't feel like death at this moment in time following AMbush and still feeling the fatigue of being sick.
Hot sun. I mostly remember the heat. When you're still a little tipsy and been dancing since 3am, you feel the sun sooo different. The lineups at the venue were long since it began at 5am and we didn't get there until 9am and I have to say, I was a little disappointed. Not only were the lineups super long but they were running out of food regularly. I stood in one line for 20 minutes only to get to my time to be served and they informed me 'oh we are making a new batch, it will be another 20 minute wait.' What? Are you duuuuuumb? I think I finally got like some little serving of food at a next booth that didn't have much of a line, eventually. At least the bars were moving quickly, I will give them that. I must have drank a gallon of coconut water at Sunrise to try and gain some strength in my body to continue partying in that heat. Also, whoever did the design/set up of Sunrise should be given a medal for how visually appealing it was. The set up was nice and simple with beautiful bright colours everywhere. The stage had DJ Puffy on it and I hear later in the day Aidonia performed as well.
We stayed at Sunrise until noon and then we had David drive us over to Kingston Harbour where our friend Sherry had invited us to spend the day on her family's three-bedroom yacht. No big deal. Just you know, massive yacht for like 10 of us for the day.
This yacht was INCREDIBLE. As soon as I stepped into it I felt like my credit score went up by 100 points. Jummy and Kyra both took the opportunity to go shower in the lower deck while I just sat in awe posting ignorant things on IG. Eventually Sherry arrived with her awesome family bringing liquor and KFC. If you haven't had Jamaican KFC, what are you really doing with your life? Game changer.
The boat took off to this beautiful little beach (sandbank?) called Maiden Cay. What a marvel. Probably one of the most pristine and beautiful stretches of beach I have ever seen. Because our yacht was so gargantuan we had to park it a little further away from the beach so all of us would have to swim about 50-60 meters to get to it. For me, this wasn't an issue, and I ended up being the first one to jump in the water and make my way over to the beach. I'm not going to throw shade at the other people on the yacht with us, but, I'm BIG and my friend Sherry's cousin Craig is also a fellow fluffy - we swam JUST fine multiple times to and from the boat. Some other people who will remain unnamed and skinny used floaties and a boat to have to get back to the yacht. SMH.
We spent a couple of hours just hanging out on the beach, somehow we got a bottle of Appleton and Wray over onto the beach, Sherry and Kyra posed for an impromptu tent advertisement and along came a party boat as well. The girls left me on the beach and headed back to the yacht in a smaller boat and as I went to leave I noticed there as a full bottle of Wray still left on the beach. So, naturally, I swam back to the yacht with a bottle of Wray in one hand. Michael Phelps ain't got shit on me, if we being real.
The rest of the afternoon and early evening was spent dancing on the yacht and just shooting the shit. A highlight of my 31-years of life is I Genna Bounced on a yacht in Jamaica as the sun set. I'm not sure what life event could possibly top this, but I would like to see it try. Eventually we made our way back to the harbour and in some miscommunication our driver didn't know he was supposed to come pick us up at that time. Luckily our host Craig, had a pick up truck. We sat in the back of a pick up truck on our way to Port Royal to get some food. Bumpy ride with a lot of squealing from me. How embarrassing.
I was probably the most excited person EVER to go to Port Royal. Please understand, when I was doing my degree in Caribbean Studies I remember reading about the story of Port Royal. The place was considered to be the wickedest place on earth during the time of colonies and pirates that God decided to sink it! In 1692 Port Royal had an earthquake and basically a massive piece broke off and vanished into the sea. Obviously, that as just mother nature doing her thing but the whole myth behind it being the wickedest place on earth always created a great story in my mind.
Fish soup. Steamed fish. Garlic shrimp. Oysters. Bammy. Festival. I HAD IT ALL. Port Royal for seafood was most welcoming to my tummy. It was about 10pm and we had been up since the night before at midnight, it was finally time to go back to our AirBnB for some much needed sleep.
Sunday, April 8 - Monday, April 9 2018
Finally! Time to play mas.
This is the day we had been waiting for. All the times I was at the gym to drop to 200lbs. All the stamina I had been building by playing basketball. It all culminated on the Sunday. My fancy decorated shoes (Bosnia and Canada flag) and my teeny weeny thong costume were ready. David picked us up at 10:30am to head for the road.
I have no idea if Xodus had a breakfast in the morning. Maybe if we had arrived earlier we would have known? I was accustomed to a breakfast included when I play mas so if they didn't have it - that sucks.
There is no need for a whole days worth of recap playing mas. If you have played mas, you know how it goes. Dancing. Dancing. Chipping. Water. More dancing. Let me focus on the new things that happened to me that day.
Well, like I said earlier - all those fancy pieces of my costume got thrown off of me within an hour of me being on the road. The big beautiful feathers, the heavy necklace of pearls... all gone. In the heat and for my mobility, I just couldn't do it anymore. I removed my back piece, walked over to a fence and left it there. FREEDOM.
I did take issue with the amount of groovy soca played, again. Shout out to DJ Puffy for the awesome dancehall set he did play. Also, to Aidonia, Shanseea and Bunji for their performances. There was only so many times I could hear: Hulk, Full of Vibes, Hello and did I mention Hulk? For all the complaints I heard before I got to Jamaica that they play 'too much dancehall' at their soca events, I definitely saw no examples of this during my time there. I was still having a wonderful time with my friends though, don't get it twisted.
One BIG bonus the road in Jamaica had (or at least Xodus did) was the midday cool down. WHAT A BLESSING! There was a massive space for all the Xodus masqueraders to sit down, eat, drink, get a massage, makeup touch up and get their costume fixed. One hour of relaxation and reenergizing to finish off the day. I ate a small piece of KFC and got my fill of coconut water. The other girls I believe hit up the makeup touch up and massages as well.
Once we were back on the road it felt like it went by so quickly. Suddenly it was already sunset and the day on the road was finishing. How? Holy crap. Sherry checked her fancy pants watch and it said we had crossed 17km of walking. Crazy.
Now we got to this awesome post-road party Xodus had called Wine Down.
Let me tell you guys, if you do absolutely NOTHING else all Jamaica carnival, make sure you go to Wine Down! Best party for the entire time I was there. We arrived and had dinner, put our feet up a little bit and BOOM got to some more dancing. The cool thing was Xodus had free entry to this party for ALL masqueraders from all the bands. The DJs and the hosts were awesome. The music? BLESS. I got a whole set of dancah chunes. By the end of this party I truly believe I was a pro at: Genna Bounce, Flairy, Fling and Lebeh Lebeh. Absolutely no doubt in my intoxicated mind - I was the new member of the Ravas crew.
This party was the most perfect way to end this day and this trip. Also, quick shout out to the man at the Grace stand who was making some concoction of like oats, cinnamon, coconut, almond...I have no idea. It was delicious and it felt like it gave me all my power back to keep going.
We really were dancing 10:30am to 11pm that day. Felt incredible.
The Sunday was such a wild day that our taxi driver picked us up in another persons taxi. No lie. He was out drinking at another party and was picking us up with another driver for him. That was a new phenomenon for me.
Monday morning came. Slept. Packed. Cleaned up. Returned keys. Headed to the airport. It was over. The whirlwind that is Jamaica carnival as over with. I regret not going to the airport even earlier because their food choices and shopping choices are amaaazing. I also didn't know white Hennessy cost $80USD. NOT impressed.
Time to fly home. Sadness.
Overall Jamaica carnival really was a great event to experience. Way cheaper than Cropover, without the scorching heat as well. Would I go back for carnival again? Eh. Probably not. Most of what I loved was because I was in Jamaica, not necessarily because it was carnival. I will 100% go back to Kingston, Jamaica though. That city gives you a great feeling inside and out. The food, the people and the culture. If for some reason I am there again during carnival, find me at Wine Down. I would not miss that.
If you're wondering the costs associated with this entire trip, make sure to click here. Gives a breakdown of what I paid for flight + stays + parties.