I saw her the first time at Cuddy’s rum shop on the corner of Mainstreet. She wore a red and yellow plaid dress, a Redsox ball cap and large, golden hoop earrings. Her shoulder length hair was frizzy and stiff and twisted into dreadlocks. On her feet she wore plastic sandals that had seen better days. Her hands were like roots and her face was like Sonny Liston after his fight against Cassius Clay, with amber teeth and a flat nose. Her charcoal eyes looked into the distance and her head nodded to the incessant beat of the jab-jab trucks rolling slowly up and down Mainstreet, followed by gyrating partiers dressed in colourful carnival costumes.
We were ready and primed for the much anticipated and promoted Carriacou Carnival, famous all over the windward Islands for it’s authenticity and fervour. This is not Rio, New Orleans or Cologne, it’s only a small island at the bottom of the Caribbean. Carnival officially takes place on the two days before Ash Wednesday, but starts weeks ahead with several village ‘roadshows’, meaning all night street parties with massive boom-boxes and beer and rum fuelled revellers. On the days leading up to the epic weekend hundreds of ‘foreigners’ (people from the ‘mainland’, Grenada, and other nearby Islands including Trinidad, as opposed to us tourists who are welcome here) as well as ex-pats from England, the US and Canada, come to this tranquil Island for the festivities, turning it into a party mayhem haven. The daily ferry from Grenada was overloaded with standing room only, and many of the beer swilling passengers hanging over the railings in the rough seas.