We are on a BWIA (“better walk
if able” or “but will it arrive”) flight full of party animals
on their way to the Carnival, one of the biggest party
extravaganzas in the Caribbean. Never have I been on a flight
with so much free flowing booze before. The frequent flyers are
flying high with their personal extra security bag of goodies in
case the flight runs dry. Trinis are very particular when it
comes to their rum.
The custom officials are even in the carnival mood, a pleasant
change from Tel Aviv. Our gracious hosts and story subjects
Maurice and Brenda Soong greet us. They look like Asian John F.
and Jackie Kennedy wannabes especially Brenda with her big 60’s
hairdo. The minute we breeze through immigration, the humid
island heat is in my face. It’s already early evening; I can’t
imagine how hot it will get in daylight tomorrow playing mas.
We get chauffeured to dinner in an air con Mercedes like
royalty. Inside the car, Brenda said something about lo-cal
food. I thought she was making reference to my Buddha belly and
was suggesting that we have low cal food… I’m having trouble
with the island accent. But instead, we found ourselves in a
swanky Indian buffet on top of the Hilton. It reminds me of The
Peak back home… Nice place but too rich for my working class
blood… So much for lo-cal food.
It’s only four in the morning and I’m awakened by the thumping
beat of Soca and steel drums. We had three hours of shut-eye.
Anna, the daughter and her husband Johnston pick us up at the
Hotel Royal. We are driving back to Port of Spain to hook up
with the mas bands. They should have just left me at the airport
last night. I’m still sleep deprived.
I’m shooting Anna and her friends as they get ready fixing their
outlandish costumes and stocking up on the national drink…rum.
It’s eight am and we’re finally leaving for the Savannah. Anna
has trouble getting her headgear into the Mercedes. They should
have brought the convertible, but then the headpiece would have
probably flown away, which would have been equally comical.
The morning mist has blown away. The sun is coming out and it’s
much clearer for my camera. But I can also feel the heat and
humidity level rising. My Steadicam is meandering thru the crowd
picking up as many Asian faces as I can.
We get busted by
Carnival police. On normal TV crews, there’s usually a “fixer”
guy that you hire from the local film office. He’s like a
bodyguard and human bank machine. He’s street smart, knows the
local scene, knows all the right people to bribe and walks
around with a big bag of cash to take care of this sort of
stuff. In our case, the “fixer” guy is Cheuk.
After our high angle establishing beauty shot of the mas parade
from the footbridge, it’s high noon and the light is way too
overhead to shoot. We are hot, famish and dehydrated, a good
excuse for some local food and cold Carib beer. We grab rotis
under a shade and watch the rest of the parade float by. After
lunch, Cheuk cools off in the Hilton swimming pool in his