Well, one things for sure. It’s definitely not a bad idea; Atlanta carnival that is. In fact, it has proven to be one of my better ideas. Not knowing what to expect from a carnival in the “dirty South” after having quizzed my fellow carnival junkies about it endless times… The answer was simply to experience it for yourself. I think my 2015 new year’s resolution|mantra| goal should have encompassed this sole idea to just –EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF! And subsequently, I bought my ticket for Memorial Day weekend, a few fete tickets, costume, car rental and made arrangements with my very gracious friend and host to crash for a few nights.
” Soca does give meh mi powers….” And that’s exactly what powered me through this weekend because to this very moment, I still don’t know how I did it. From an avid carnival-goer’s perspective; a budding US-carnival should be a breeze; just a tickle on your tastebuds compared to the bigger more celebrated carnivals. Before I even continue, I must express this. Don’t underestimate the road! Whether it’s Atlanta, NY, Trinidad or Jamaica…it’s still PACE. So pace yourself. Keyword: PACE.
Exhausted from a days work I hustled to the airport to catch my flight. Landed in ATL with what was obviously the “Memorial Day” crowd. Rental checked out after lingering in line for about an hour and zoomed over to Mas camp to pick up my costume and then I headed over to where I was staying.
Atlanta, has an urban meets country feel. Parts of it remind me of NYC and then other parts start to look a lot like Florida, Maryland. I would definitely visit again.
Now back to the case at hand. For me, a carnival experience should never be singly faceted—- try to do as much as you can in however little time you have. It’s a new place, a new city—go out and explore. Atlanta is one of the best cities to take advantage of that. However, I was not particularly prepared even though I had an itinerary and a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do.
TRAVEL SMART; TRAVEL LIGHT.
-It’s a weekend. A long one. You need only but toiletries, 2-3fete outfits, costume accessories, pajamas, lots of underwear among other necessities and comfortable shoes.
– I knew when I was planning for Trinidad & Jamaica that I was going to try Atlanta carnival. It was not a spur of the moment decision. So I Youtubed it, researched last years bands, asked A LOT of questions in group forums, sent emails. Luckily, I knew a few persons who had been and actually lived in Atlanta so it was not a tedious process of getting information.
Get “road ready”
You can prepare in several ways; I usually prepare for carnivals in several areas:
1.Fitness/Stamina for the road
2.Leverage for my Liver
3.Sleep, Sleep & More Sleep
4.Carnival Shoes /Accessories
In this case, numbers 1 & 3 were severely neglected and this junkie barely scraped by. My experience was still an awesome time; I just literally spent half the time asleep. “Womp—womppp”; insert depressing sound effect here. This, too could happen to you. Preparation is always important.
One of the most important things that can determine your carnival experience is connecting. This is a time for celebration, friendship, love and what better opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. After all the song does say, ” I here with meh friend and dem….”.
3. MEMORIES DON’T LIVE LIKE PEOPLE DO
…in fact they last for eons and eons. Do yourself a favor and….
A) Take your camera
–Self explanatory. I love pictures; they are windows of time. A photo can describe so much more than what could ever be written or said, just my opinion. Whether it’s a selfie or video, when you’re suffering from tabanca on the job you can take a trip down memory lane and take a quiet wine while doing paperwork. I do it all the time!
B) Savor the moment.
There’s so much more to experience than just carnival. Go out there, grab dinner or brunch with a friend. Prior to this trip, I already knew in my mind that part of this experience was going to be edible. Thanks to the suggestions of a friend and my more than gracious host; I got to fill my belly at the Optimist and Murphy’s. Both restaurants with beautiful decor and equally yummy food.
Here’s 8 or less minutes of my experience at Atlanta Carnival!
One more THING ( we can call this the clause to REASON #1.) A few hours on the Road does not mean a mediocre “pump”.
It was so much more than MEDIOCRE. Atlanta carnival was worth the time, money and energy spent to experience Caribbean culture, unity. What’s more is that the crowd (made up of many ethnicities, cultures) witnessed a spectacle of togetherness and individuals who were proud of their culture. So as I beat down and non-road ready as I was, Atlanta Carnival gets a two thumbs up from me.
Up next, Hollywood carnival!
Til the next bacchanal (I promise I’ll be ready),
Crista S. aka Bahamianista