This year marks my fourth year of Jamaica Carnival and in the short space of time that I have been attending, I have seen the Carnival experience unprecedented growth in the volume of fete offerings, visitors and new Carnival bands, which makes me a bit nostalgic for the “good ole days”.
- Being part of a “secret” Carnival club – When I first started going to Jamaica Carnival I felt as if I was privy to a secret shared by only a few who knew that this Carnival, and how great it is, existed. Now, the secret is out; there is no denying that for 2017 Jamaica Carnival has exploded in popularity among the Carnival chasers and Carnival lovers alike. While I am very happy to see the Carnival grow as word gets out on how affordable and enjoyable it is, I am somewhat nostalgic for the days when I felt as if I alone had discovered this Carnival sweet spot.
- The feeling of relative obscurity – There is something to be said about being able to let loose with wild abandon in a space where no one knows your name or even your face. This was a freedom that I enjoyed my first year of Jamaica Carnival, surprised that apart from my fellow travel mates, I knew no one else or could identify a familiar face in the crowd at a fete. Honestly, that was part of what made it so special to me. For 2017 I am definitely going to see everyone that I just saw in Trinidad for Carnival AGAIN! Every day I watch, sometimes in surprise, at the growing number of persons who I know eagerly counting down for Jamaica Carnival on social media. Note to self, keep behavior in check or risk ending up in an acquaintance’s snapchat story or worse yet, in a viral video.
- Fete choices were easy – The good old days of having my fete line up mapped out because there were only four MUST attend fetes; those were Block O, Bacchanal Jamaica J’ouvert, Sunrise Breakfast Party and Bazodee. Ah, the simple life of having only one fete per day and knowing that you were sure to see the same faces at every event. 2017 Carnival in Jamaica has me doing double, and sometimes triple, fetes per day just so I won’t miss out on any of the action. Not to mention the fact that I have to coordinate with my friends which events we will be meeting up at so that I might have a chance of seeing them while in Jamaica.
- Not having to ask “who are you playing with?” – When I first heard that Jamaica Carnival only had one band, Bacchanal Jamaica, I thought what a strange concept. However, after experiencing the road with basically everyone I knew in one band, THIS was what set the road experience apart from other Carnivals for me; it was awesome! This year my friends are split across the three bands, the stalwart Bacchanal Jamaica and newcomers Xodus and Xaymaca. The one saving grace is that all bands are basically following an individual, yet similar routes. Maybe I will see my friends, maybe I won’t, one thing I do know for sure is that this year is definitely going to be a year of the unexpected and firsts for me on the road when it comes to Carnival in Jamaica.
- Spur of the moment travel – The fact that I have to navigate flights between Jamaica and the US to get back to Trinidad is definitely a first, not to mention that my airline ticket is the most expensive ever purchased for Jamaica, period. This year has proven that you can no longer wait to decide on going to Jamaica Carnival if you do you will end up paying an exorbitant amount in airfare (trust me I can get to Paris on the cost of this ticket) or not having flights at all for the days you want to travel. Not to mention that most of the popular hotels and guest houses are sold out! Great for Jamaica tourism, not so great if you only just decided you wanted to make the trip. Here is to planning EARLY for 2018.
What I do look forward to is the excitement I feel when I get to Jamaica. This Carnival has become so special to me because of the hospitality of the Jamaican people, all the good food ( I dream of curry goat and white rice), the fantastic time I have at the events I attend and that I have a most carefree and epic time on the road; zero stress! Countdown to Jamaica is on! I’ll be with Bacchanal Jamaica!