The Cropover experience
Cropover was always a carnival that I wanted to experience, everyone talks about it like it is on par with Trinidad, so was excited about my plans for booking my trip to Barbados for Cropover. At the risk of offending any Bajan, I apologise in advance but just wanted to pen my thoughts on my experiences at carnival.
Booking event tickets were effectively easy, as most events were on Ticketpal, or you could use Facebook for info. However, I had the benefit of my Bajan friends to help recommend the best fetes to plan my trip around. So here I was ready to go. Although, sourcing information on costume mas was an entirely different game. Digging deep through the myriads of inept websites, broken links, or poor tourism websites, I had to rely on my instinctive choices, value for money, and Instagram.
The Sunrise Hotel
Grrr… Does anyone else get upset at the rip off that they call hotels? What an overpriced pile of rubbish. The food was dire, I mean really bad and after two nights dining at their restaurant, I gave up and sourced local food instead. Breakfast was fine. I mean you really can’t get tea and toast wrong. Unfortunately, not a hotel that will be on my list to visit, anytime soon.
The taxis/buses are plentiful and at $3 a ride it is very reasonable. Nights are more difficult though, the buses stop around midnight and you will have to pay so much more for a taxi. You really do need reliable transportation, i.e a car, and a driver. If you do, your laughing, as transport is key. However, there are enough taxis also randomly driving around in the Cropover season to hail and get you around, but as always, safety is key and be aware.
I spent a lot of time at Miami beach which less touristy and it was a beautiful beach. Accra beach is in tourist land, so if you don’t like to be amongst locals and pay for expensive junk food, then this is the place to be. It’s a modellers paradise with every fit man and woman parading around like a peacock on show. Its a beach for showing off and most men, grease themselves up and strut like chickens laying the best eggs. You want a beach to chill at, then I recommend Miami, but if you have a body to show off or want to see incredible bodies, then look no further than Accra.
The Jabnival fete
Anything to do with jab jab and I am going, I am unbelievably hooked on Grenadian Soca. So just the title alone made me run to Ticketpal. This fete was on the night I landed and I was tired but for sure, this was arguably the best night of my Cropover experience, I had such a ball that night and met some really interesting people. Release the Riddim played a set and all I can is that Credable was incredible, tune after tune. It was well worth the money and all the DJ’s were great that night, but lord the oil…. 🙂 .. and that my friends is a problem, as when your first night is great, the rest don’t always follow.
Dis is Rick
This night was massively sold to a few of us, but a number declined the event, which I questioned, but nevertheless booked. [Sigh] I wish I could say that this was a great night but it was marred by a series of events that ended up with us leaving early.
What no-one tells you about Dis is Rick is that every year, without fail, it rains. Not a little rain, but big heavy longlasting downpours. From when we left home at 10 pm it was raining and it just never eased off. In terms of getting in, everyone likes a wristband, it’s used as a status symbol for the number of events that you have reached. So to pay that amount of money to get a paper wristband with not even Dis is Rick printed on them was a little disheartening. Obviously, my fellow Bajans are used to the rain and thus come prepared. Such a shame we did not check and it was clearly apparent who the foreigners were in the concert, as the majority of non Bajans huddled under the minimal marquees that were available, or you just got wet and fete!
Flow sponsored the event and found it odd that they did not supply more marquees? I mean it rains every year. So give out Brollys or put more shelter please Flow. I felt that Dis is Rick lost a lot of people that night and I ended up leaving at 2.30 am as I could not take the rain and I was as sober as a judge.
Foreday morning |The carnival experience begins
Now Cropover is made up of Foreday Morning (Jouvert) and Kadooment (main carnival day). This year, they put on an extra day after the carnival.
We were recommended to jump with Colorz.. Hmmmmm… From the start, I could see disaster striking. The day we arrived, we went to pick up costumes which was just a nightmare. Honestly. Thankfully, we managed to get ours that evening, but not everyone fared so well.
The roads were alive from 3 am but we went to meet our band around 4.30am. Colorz was easy to find, it was the biggest band, almost too big. It’s like jumping with Carnival Fever in Berlin, far too many people and not enough music trucks, or stewards to cope with the sheer amount of people. As with most jouvert’s, it was chaotic. Revelers were shuffling for space and coupled with the sheer size of the band, it was a tight fit at times. Other bands fared well, but it did make me feel like I should have chosen a smaller band. I did have a really good time, for sure, but not Colorz again, unless you like the crazy bacchanal mix up.
Getting back was not too difficult so long as rum didn’t lick your friends, as taxis were waiting at exit points – so walk with your dollars.
I didn’t make it. My feet were injured and I needed to keep them going for the main day. However, I was told that this was the place to be and that it was a very good night. This was actually my one regret of the trip in that I did not make this fete.
Kadooment – Main Carnival Day
There is now more than a general disappointment with costumes. It’s the prices and lack of value for money and creativity. I live and breathe for carnivals but I detest the way carnival creativity has gone. In comes relentless skimpy costumes at inflated prices, each band competing with how low the panties can line round a women’s nether regions. Or how much breast can they reveal? What’s with the feathers? I personally hate them, gets in the way of wuk up and love that other carnivals let you pay separately if you want those things. Men’s costumes are always long pants, headgear and necklace, but not much further choice. Lets not get started on the all-inclusive packages. Really bad food and often served cheap rum under the guise of branded products. Remember those nasty hangovers the morning after and think why!
Yes! I thought I researched well, looked at all the bands and to be honest, I only chose Baeji as they offered a reasonably priced costume (plus it was pretty too). Picking up the costume was easy and pretty much an efficient affair. I got to say that it was easily the best, well-made costume that I have bought – indicators are that it came back intact!
On the day itself, as with all carnivals, there is a distinct lack of parking and a lot of walking. The carnival actually starts off in the stadium. All bands set up from there and it is chaos trying to find your band as there are no indicators and you just got to look for your costume. It was a damn hot day and our band had already moved to the main stadium. Package included breakfast but it was just lentil patties, croissants and not sure what else – it just was not nice.
Just to give some perspective on the carnival parade, the bands congregate in the arena. Then the bands are given their respective number of where they are in the procession and when they can leave. A good system, but not sure if it worked. As, if it takes around 30 mins to lead each band out and your band is number 15, that is a lot of hours waiting in the stadium. It’s also swelteringly hot. Luckily Baeji was number 3 so we set off early.
I wish I could say I had the best time, really I do, but at best it was good, not great. As a carnivalist, I like to wuk up, but Baeji was indeed Bouji. Pretty costumes on pretty women, walking pretty. All pretty and nice – I never keep my costumes as usually they are battered but this one came back intact. Says a lot huh? Worse still we came off the road at 3 pm. What happened? Yes at 3 pm, I actually couldn’t believe our band had come off the road. We then congregated back in the stadium for lunch. You could back into the carnival but it was a long walk back, hot and the taxis were another long walk away. It was at 5 pm, that we gave up the carnival chase and headed back to the hotel.
Would I do Cropover again? Possibly, but I don’t get the hype at all as it was average, to be honest. An average, expensive holiday.