Cheers to Life!

There is healing power in a wine.  I don’t mean alcohol, although that can work wonders (in moderation).  I’m talking about the dance you do when Soca or other Caribbean rhythms start to play. There is something quite magical about swinging your hips and losing yourself to the beat of one of your favorite songs.  Add sun, great friends (and rum) and something indescribable happens.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of accompanying 23 of the most beautiful, fun-loving, hilarious (and borderline crazy) women to Trinidad for Carnival.  Our crew is known as the Soca Bandits.  Most of us had gone before in 2014 as a group of 15 women (plus two lucky guys).  This year we had several newbies join us.  The “vets” were sure to take the newbies under our wings to ensure that they had the time of their lives.  Yet, even as someone that has gone to Carnival a total of six times now, I often felt like a newbie myself.

This Carnival felt different.  I needed it more than I realized.  The last two years have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster.  I have experienced some extreme highs and some deep lows.  I had also received some disheartening news right before I left for the trip.  So I went to Trinidad seeking a release.

Somebody must have gotten my memo, because Carnival was exactly what the doctor ordered.   The sun, the food, the fetes (parties), the food, the people, and the music (did I mention the food?) were my prescription.

One song in particular, Cheers to Life by Voice, was my theme for the entire trip (10 days). Voice, a 23 year old Soca artist, won Soca Monarch this year (best song of the year).  He is the youngest person to ever do so.  He rightfully earned that title.  His song is so positive and the lyrics are uplifting.  He sings, “From you wake up this morning, you’s ah winner…” When I listened, I started to believe it.  The rhythm is also infectious.  I couldn’t stand still every time I heard it, and I heard it a lot.  That’s part of the beauty of Carnival.  No matter how many times a song is played, the crowd gets energized each time.

Another song, Allez encourages you to “Step forward, move forward”, leave all of your problems behind, and when negativity comes your way, to “brush it off.”  My friend, Cass even choreographed a dance to the song which led to an impromptu group performance at a fete (Sunny Side Up).  That was one of many amazing moments on the trip.

A few other songs this year celebrated life and talked about gratitude.  By the time Carnival was done, I was recharged spiritually (but exhausted physically).  Then I had a bake & shark (ok, two) from Richard’s at Maracas Bay, and I was in heaven.  The trip wasn’t even over yet!

We went to Tobago for the last few days and stayed in a beautiful villa.  There were a few parties in Tobago this year too.  But we made sure we got in some quality beach time (Nylon Pool is a must!) as well.  The last event we went to was a concert at Pigeon Point Beach.  I wasn’t sure which artists would perform.  So imagine my excitement when Voice came out to perform his hit song!

To say that it was hard to come back to NY (to bills, snow and stress) is an understatement.  I almost didn’t make it, since I missed my connecting flight in Trinidad from Tobago.  The stress of having to find a new flight made it clear that the fun was indeed over.  Womp womp.

The tabanca (post carnival depression) set in as soon as I had to go back to sitting at a desk for most of the day.  There were a few “at this time last week” moments that were torturous. Watching my lovely chocolate tan fade added insult to injury.  Sigh.

But the memories (and the inside jokes) from this trip will last a lifetime.  We also are still sharing pics and chatting away in our WhatsApp group chat.  Thanks to DJ Private Ryan’s Soca Brainwash mix, I have been listening to all of the songs on repeat…and wining at my desk.  Cheers!

Soca Bandits




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