We had a perfect sail down from Carriacou to St George’s in Grenada. The wind was steady on the beam, until we got in the wind shadow of some of the higher ground on Grenada, but with plenty of time before dark, we stayed with the sails and made our way sedately to Camper Nicholson’s Port Louis marina.

We took advantage of their half price ‘Carnival Special’ and for a very reasonable £19 a night we had the security of knowing that the boat and dinghy were in a secure and guarded berth during the carnival weekend, when things notoriously ‘go missing’!. It also meant we could walk into town and see as much of Carnival as possible.

Stamen and Durita moored up just in front of us on the Super Yacht dock and we spent a day settling in and getting used to the luxury of a swimming pool and poolside bar, good wifi and a laundry that actually got clothes clean!

On Saturday afternoon we dodged the showers and headed for the ‘Panorama’ steel pan band competition at the National Cricket Stadium. The bands had from 50 up to 80 players aged, 9 to 70, with as many as 170 pans. All these pans of various sizes were mounted on numerous small wheeled floats, that had to be manhandled across the muddy outfield, up a steep ramp and onto the stage. Despite the toil of getting everything in place, the performances were incredibly energetic. We stayed to hear 5 of the 9 bands………Marcus had nearly lost the will to live by then……but we did hear the winning band. I loved it!!

Steel Pan Band.

Steel Pan Band.

On Sunday things were eerily quiet and we spent our ‘day off’ doing jobs and socialising. We had an early night ready for a 4am start to experience ‘J’ouvert’ which is a contraction of the French Jour ouvert, or day break.
We got up, very bleary eyed, and made our way towards the loud music to join the several thousand revellers. We had been warned

to wear old clothes and to coat ourselves in baby oil to make washing easier! We were also told that if we stayed on the pavement we would be relatively safe!, but if we walked in the road we were fair game!! We walked along with the crowd…….in the road, of course, and got hugged and danced with by locals covered in engine oil and paint. It was a shame that I didn’t take the camera, but probably just as well! By the way the baby oil trick worked a treat.

This is an extract from the Spice Mas site that explains a little of the J’ouvert tradition.

“…the traditional Jab-Jab or Devil Mas bands emerge from the darkness of the night to parade freely through the town.”
Blackened with stale molasses, tar, grease, creosote or mud, and wearing little more than their horned helmets, these masqueraders in previous times set out to terrify onlookers with their grotesque appearance and repulsive dances.

In modern times, the traditional Jab-Molassi have mutated into other creatures of colour, with Blue, Yellow and Green Devils joining in the early morning parade. These colourful devils are much more playful in character, wanting only to dab a bit of their body paint onto unsuspecting bystanders, as they dance through the streets to the rhythms of the accompanying drums, steel bands and calypsos from huge DJ trucks.

Having drunk and danced our way all the way to the town, Marcus and Stamen decided to walk all the way back……Durita and I opted for the water taxi and bed!

I’ve managed to copy a few shots of J’ouvert from the internet:-

Crowds of very happy, colourful and oily people.

Crowds of very happy, colourful and oily people.

Painted ladies.....carnival style.

Painted ladies…..carnival style.

Some Jab Jabs about to be driven away by the dawn.

Some Jab Jabs about to be driven away by the dawn.

Monday afternoon and we were all up and on our

way to the stadium again to see the Fancy Mas Bands parade on the stage for judging. The costumes are amazing and must cost several month’s wages. We watched them get ready in the street, mixed in with some of the morning Jab Jabs who were still celebrating.

Still up and carrying his bucket of oil!

Still up and carrying his bucket of oil!

Gathering for the parade.

Gathering for the parade.

On the judging stage at the Stadium.

On the judging stage at the Stadium.

It's all about spectacle.

It’s all about spectacle.

Here are some of the amazing ‘feature’ costumes. They were supported by hundreds of other members of the dancing ‘bands’.

'Colours of Carnival' one of the band's theme.

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After a long day and a lot of partying, I was the only one left standing to walk to the gates of the marina at midnight, to watch the Night Mas parade down the hill on its 4 hour journey from Grande Anse into St George.

The Night Mas as it came down the hill.

The Night Mas as it came down the hill.

There were thousands of people marching/dancing/walking festooned with glow sticks in various shapes and sizes following the speaker lorries, which were still blasting out the two songs we heard all day.
On Tuesday there was the Fancy Mas In the afternoon. We dinghied across the harbour to the yacht club for lunch and to await the procession.
It was billed to start at 1pm…….that’s GMT ……. Grenada Maybe Time….. At 3pm we heard the music getting closer so we went and found our vantage spot just by the judging point for the individual feature costumes.
These were the same ‘bands’ that we had seen being judged at the stadium, but this time they paraded from near the marina right into town.
As the last band passed we followed the crowd. Marcus kept going, but I ducked out at the yacht club and headed back to the boat for an early night.
What a great weekend.
Grenadians really know how to party and every event was a family affair. Although a lot of rum and beer was consumed, the crowds were always good humoured and there wasn’t a single disturbance…..we only saw three police officers and they were manning a road block!

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