We could hear the beat long before we saw anything coming. The streets were lined with bunting. People were waiting by the roadside. The atmosphere was euphoric.
It is carnival week in Antigua. Each day there is something different happening. On Tuesday it was the T-shirt Mas. On Thursday it was the children’s parade.
I spoke with a lady who told me that her church was against them going to even watch carnival. I didn’t quite understand why.
There has been much critique in the local papers regarding the organisation of the parades – too late starting, too many gaps, not enough police.
I know understand why her church is against it, and I saw the disorganisation firsthand. It didn’t detract from the spectacle that we watched, as real tourists, in awe.
The vans driving down the streets, making the earth move with the booming bass, were really something else.
Then there were the colours and the dancing. And the children’s faces.
Yes it started late. Yes there were gaps and children running to catch up. Yes there were 4 year olds shaking their booty in short skirts.
But the essence of the event was that of celebration. Amongst the spectators there was a camaraderie. It was a day of smiles.
This week we are going to the final parade and I will share some memories from then. There is a big parade starting at 3am tomorrow morning called j’ouvert. It is to celebrate the emancipation of slavery in 1834.
It’s time to reggae.