Subject: Chestnut hair, blue eyes and a distinct British accent. LocaSubject: Chestnut hair, blue eyes and a distinct British accent. Location: Downtown Port-Of-Spain. Mission: To get an early start at buying "Carnival bits and bops". "Bits and bops?" I ask her as I question her Get-ready-for-Carnival 2013 agenda. "Yes, all the stuff you need for Carnival," Suzy Sancho says. Born and bred in Bath, a city miles away from London, this year's Carnival will be the 28-year-old's second experience of the greatest show on earth. Her 2012 experience was as she puts it "fabulous". "I had a mighty good time. Unexplainable isn't it?"
For last year's Carnival, however, Sancho believed that she over-prepared for her debut on the road. It was as if she knew what to expect but having actually experienced it, the "jolly" time she had superseded all her expectations and petty concerns.
"Last year I'd just had a baby so my preparations were hardcore, I had some serious baby fat to get rid of, so with the help of my husband we went on a diet, so six weeks leading up to Carnival I was in starvation mode! It wasn't until I got on to the road Monday morning I realised all that suffering wasn't necessary, Carnival is about enjoying yourself no matter your size, race or how much money you have! This year there's been no diet, I'm going out free, fat rolls, dimples and all!" she avows.
"So you had a blast even in the blazing hot sun?" I ask. She beams a broad smile and I get the feeling that I am in for ball by ball commentary. Suzy's First Carnival — Take One! "There's nothing in this world quite like Carnival in Trinidad. Coming from England the thought of spending over four hundred pounds on a blingy bikini and some feathers for two days made no sense to me then! Luckily I had a Trini husband who swore to the revelry, and after much persuasion and my actual experience now I can't imagine February without my expensive two days, and this is only year two! It's a time when everyone gels, strangers are your friends, and you can just get lost in the music! Of course with my pasty English skin I was worried about sunburn and dying in the heat but, luckily I didn't turn into a beetroot and after many many icy vodka and cranberries the heat wasn't too bad either," she recounts while testing shades of danskins for Carnival Monday and Tuesday on the road.
Now it's her turn to comment on the fetes, "I experienced a few fetes last year, like the Diamond Vale Breakfast party, and Beach House, they were fun, and no doubt I'll do it again this year, but I learned just because I spent all that money on a ticket it doesn't mean I have to drink that much worth of alcohol and eat so much food till I pop! Tight dresses and bloated belly isn't the 2013 way," the mother of two muses.
Ah and what is a Carnival biography without Panorama Semi-finals- "A week has passed and we just barely got over the Panorama semis, the hangover hung around for a bit longer this year! My very first pan in 2011, I was actually pregnant and had to leave half way through to catch a flight back to England to give birth, so last year I spent my time trying to get my head around what the event actually had to do with pan (my group of friends were on the Greens)! This year we took our son to the Queens Park Savannah during the week to hear the pan, which was a mistake as now everything is a drum! But I was glad I actually got to hear pan, and watch people playing with such enthusiasm, such energy, infectious and genuine. For Sunday's semis I was back in the greens drinking the afternoon away listening to DJs and rhythm sections without a hint of pan around!"
"What do you think about the music and our Carnival outfits?" I inquired. Sancho laughed heartily, "I personally love the Trini way of dressing during Carnival, definitely wouldn't work in England, you'd freeze to death for one! It's only this year that I've started trying some different things myself. I was quite conservative and boringly English last year! I am actually sewing some mono-kinis for Monday wear for myself, two friends coming from England and my other friend from Sunderland." "You can sew?" I ask. "Indeed, I learned to sew in three months!" she claims. Back to the Carnival discussion, her views on Trini soca: "The music is what takes me away here, whether I'm in a party or on the road I lose myself in soca, Trinidad and Tobago have such talented artistes, they produce music that just make your toes tap and your bumsy shake ! I do miss my R&B sometimes but I love my soca!" declares the soca sampler.
Sancho is certain that this year's Carnival will be better. She can feel it. There is a strange expression on her face, a happy mix of excitement and curiousity and her voice is high pitched and euphoric as she anticipates the beautiful parade and her fantastic Fantasy Mas band costume. "It's gonna be jolly good!"she gushes. Her husband will be at her side coaching her along the way as she participates in her newfound Trini culture but I reckon she won't need much coaching. "Do people watch you funny on the road and detect that you are a foreigner?" I ask. "I don't think so. I believe I blend it quite well. My husband gave me wining lessons and I am a quick learner, "she winks. She confesses that England's Notthinghill Carnival pales in comparison to the Trinbagonian experience and only now she understands why so many Brits flock to the twin island republic religiously around February each year.
"Will you invite your family and friends for next year's Carnival..." I barely finish my sentence and she interjects, "They are on their way here as we speak!" With her blue eyes glimmering like the glitter dust and make-up she is sampling, she concludes with a knowing smile, "I am sold over this festival. There is no turning back I am a Brit gone wild over Carnival!"
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