I’m not really sure what we did when we arrived at Hart’s for the first time on Monday. If J’Ouvert was streaks and splotches of mud and paint in the darkness, Hart’s Carnival was an explosion of brilliant color in the tropical daylight of Port-of-Spain. More than the chaos of J’Ouvert and the pageantry of Carnival Tuesday, however, I think it was the freest of the three days: pure, unplanned, undiluted joy.
We refused to go with the “Monday Wear” trend, so Wendy opted for a modified frontline costume from another Hart’s section and Andres and I stripped down to the bare basics of the Tuesday wear. Thanks to Pat McGrath’s Gold001, I also got to test whether I’d be going home to California with a weird tan on my face showing where I’d been painted up (surprisingly, I looked pretty normal at the end of the week!).
Hart’s is one of the big mas bands that lead the modern Carnival parade, alongside other established names like Tribe and Bliss. In Wendy’s words, it’s “adult Disneyland” and it couldn’t have been more perfect for us. No fights, no sloppiness, no Bourbon St.-type situations; just stunning costumes (I’m biased, but I thought the most beautifully crafted of the season alongside some of those from Lost Tribe) and insanely friendly, joyous people. The theme this year is Ultraviolet Jungle, and boy did my retinas ache from the explosions of vivid but complementary rainforest colors everywhere we turned.
I had the chance to play mas alongside Lorca Gatcliffe, Miss Universe T&T 1994 (the year Sushmita Sen won) and finally hang with the legendary Peter Elias, the godfather of Trinidad’s pageant and the man responsible for making it the most successful Caribbean nation at Miss Universe in history. Trinidad was a huge power during his term, winning the crown in 1998 with Wendy of course but also clearing the semifinals a whopping 7 times between 1994 and 2006. It’s participated on a very spotty basis since and I certainly miss seeing T&T bring the fire.
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