Monday, August 31, 2009

Stranded in Toco...

Last weekend found me and the family and the family and the family (a total of 36) headed to Toco for a mini family vacation. Most of the family went up early on Friday morning, with the balance of us heading to Toco after work.

I was initially hesitant about going to Toco for a couple of reasons, one of them being that I was going to miss Island People's Launch, which I got over when I figured I could just carry a laptop and watch it "live' on Triniscene like I did with TRIBE.
Only to find out that the place we were staying in Toco had NO internet access. None! That meant no live launch, no Maccobook, no Trinidad Carnival Diary for the weekend!!

I wondered what hell I had signed up for. *sigh*

I was mildly pacified by the fact that there was no "live" IP launch and I could possibly pick up The Blog (TCD) via my uncle's Blackberry. So on Friday evening after work I bid the peeps on Facbook and the cbox farewell and went off into the wilderness.

Just before leaving, my Facebook status read "*** is heading to an internet-less Toco this weekend, which means I'll miss the IP launch online."

We left home just after 4pm and with not much traffic as I expected, we arrived at the Jammev Beach Resort around 7pm. The family took up all of the main building.
I was a bit underwhelmed, but thought maybe it was because we got up there in the dark that I wasn't overly impressed. I took a dip in the semi-infinity pool and after some delicious fish broth and ole talk, I found my way to my bed just after midnight. Attempts at viewing the IP launch pics on Saucy's Blog on the Blackberry proved to be futile.
What a lame start to my weekend I thought, it cyar get worse than this!

Eh heh? Well who tell me say dat?!
I wake up to realise that the place still underwhelming and maybe even more so in the daylight. While the landscape is lovely, the "resort" itself looks as if it was built/designed by a blind man, with rooms and bathrooms placed all over the place and even a Queen sized bed in the kitchen. I kid you not! More like a kitchenette really. Cause there was no full kitchen in the resort/house.

So shortly after bathing and having a delicious meal of roast coconut bake and cheese, I grab my book to have a read, cause it's raining. Not any torrential showers, but a steady drizzle that hampers the kids from going into the pool.

Just after lunch time, we got news from the caretaker of the property that the Balandra bridge had collapsed while a crane was attempting to go over the bridge. :|
WHAT?! This HAD to be a joke!

So now it's no internet, it's raining and the bridge has collapsed cutting us off from the rest of Trinidad!

Of course being Trinis...we went to macco the scene with the bridge. It was bad. It wasn't a partway/half way thing...the bridge just GONE and is a one way in one way out scene. *sigh*

Well it cannot get worse than being stranded in Toco.

Eh heh? Well who tell me say dat!

We reach back to the house and I continue my reading when dry so, the fans stop blowing breeze. Current gone! At this point we could only laugh yes. And of course I foolishly thought the only thing worse go be if water go now!

Eh heh? Well who tell me say DAT?!

We get a message from the caretaker dat because electricity gone, the water pump cyar wuk! Well at this point I fraid to say or even think anything. But is good news cause we have a generator! Well finally, it look like things looking up!

Eh heh? Who tell me say dat?!

Yes we have a generator but the generator eh have enough diesel fuel to run, and when the caretaker went to get more diesel the gas station eh have none!

At this point I borrowed my uncle's Blackberry and changed my FB status to "***is in Toco on a borrowed BB with no electricity no water no diesel on the gas station for the generator and the Balandra bridge has collapsed! What a weekend..."That night, the generator was put on for a two hour period so that we could bathe, cook and wash dishes. The men took the opportunity afterwards to visit a neighbouring bar that had electricity, while the ladies and the kids stayed at the house and played Charades and Balandra's Got Talent in the dark.
At night, with the lights out the place is pitch dark that you could barely see your hand in front your face. The kids seemed not to be too bothered though as we had a few candles and a flashlight.

We woke up with the promise of sun, still no electricity, but mysteriously during the night the water situation rectified itself.
FB status "*** is still in Toco...we have water and sun today,but still no electricity no pool and the bridge is still down".
Good news though, the caretaker agreed to put the generator on for a while so the pool could be filtered and the kids were happy. Just before the pool was ready however, electricity miraculously came back! It seems that it was a problem localised to our street only and someone from T&TEC came to sort it out. YAY!!

FB status "*** is still in Toco waiting for the bridge to be repaired, but at least we have electricity, water and the pool is back in service. Who say no work tomorrow?!"

We took the opportunity later that day to go visit the beach which was packed with people who had also been stranded. Some persons had been put up at the nearby schools including Toco Composite and Toco SDA School.

We were expecting that the bridge would have been repaired by midnight Sunday, but this was not the case and we resigned ourselves to spending yet ANOTHER night in Toco.

At this point we were asked to vacate the guest house as the owners were expecting guests (who had to cross the same bridge that had collapsed) and they had to clean to prepare the place. We ended up paying for the extra night and we got two available rooms, the gazebo and the open patio area that we could spend the night.

We spent what we hoped was our last day in Toco chilling in the pool and packing up and getting ready to go home.

Whilst playing in the pool during the day one of the young ladies in our party got struck in her face and we had to send her to the Toco District Hospital. When she got there they said she was okay, but still wanted to do some scans which could only be done in the Sangre Grande hospital. She and her mom were escorted out of Toco via ambulance over the pedestrian walk on the bridge across on the other side.

FB Status: *** still in Toco with the family, but we had an emergency and had to get *N* to Sangre Grande hospital. We have no more food, and we got thrown out of the guest house. Bridge should be open by midnight and we're outta here *fingers crossed*

At this point everyone was just ready to go home.
We took a trip to the lighthouse and got some lovely pics. A trip to the mini mart to get some stuff for our last meal...some good old dependable Crix and cheese. (The salad was a leftover from lunch). I doh know when last I got such a crispy Crix, nice and fresh! One of the aunts also made some delish mini fry bakes that went down really well with the cheese.

After what felt like the quickest of sleeps, we were up bright and early at half 5.
The men went out on a reconnaissance mission and came back with the good news that the bridge was open and we had thankfully missed all of the traffic that had been lined up all weekend to leave Toco. We also got confirmation on the radio that the bridge was open, so we made haste and said goodbye to our guest house, the pool and headed out of there!

Crossing the Bailey Bridge to get out of Toco

FB status: *** has crossed the Balandra bridge and is back! :D WOOT!WOOT!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spice Responds...

Following this post last week, I received this message from Spice PR Driselle Ramjohn on August 21st 2009.

Hi Ac Boots,

We at Spice Carnival have in the past and will continue to try to accommodate all masqueraders interested in playing mas with us. 

We have never and will never discriminate against anyone.

Based on the availability of sizes to us on the frontline costumes we are only able to offer frontlines at the specified sizes (which can be seen on our website) This issue is beyond our control. 

However we do deal with everyone on a case by case basis with personalized service to see if we can come up with an option that you are most happy with. 

Our backline sections encompasses a range of sizes and we are also the only Carnival band that offers corsets as an option. 

We continue to go the extra mile to accommodate everyone and to ensure that all our masqueraders are comfortable on road.

Thank you for your interest in Spice Carnival! 



This was my email to Ms. Ramjohn sent on August 17th.

Dear Driselle,
I understand form inquiries made at the mascamp in person and via phone that Spice will not be catering to women larger than a 36C cup for their frontline costumes.

I also understand that you are not allowing masqueraders to bring in their own bras to decorate.

Can you say why this is so? 

This seems like blatant discrimination to me as it seems that the band is catering only to a certain size of
masquerader in the band.

I look forward to your response.

The words "woefully inadequate" came to mind. What say you?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Not So Spicey...

After being all hyped up on Spice, I was extremely disappointed to learn that masqueraders wishing to play frontline in Spice cannot getting anything bigger than a 36C bra. 

Now while this bra limitation does not affect me directly, (as I have required and now envious 36C cup size), I think this issue needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. 
After dribbling over Spice's launch pics many persons are now left disappointed that they cannot get into the costume of their choice because of something as simple as their cup size.

I have called the mas camp on several occasions on this issue that I do not think is being addressed at all by Spice. 

I was told all of those things when I contacted the mas camp directly:
Yes, what you are seeing on the website is correct, there is nothing larger than a 36C bra available for FL masqueraders...
No, you cannot bring in your own bra/corset for Spice to decorate...
No, it does not matter if you are willing to pay the extra cost...
This is just Spice's policy...

Well it's a pretty crappy policy to me and one that I think is costing Spice lots of potential masqueraders. Spice's policy seems to be one of good old fashioned discrimination. 

Is it that they are equating having a larger bust size to mean that you are a fuller figured woman and thus should not be in the front of their sections? 
Is it that the suppliers in China cannot supply monokini and bikinis in a size larger than 36C?
Is it that after their experience this year it was just too much headache to be bothered to cater for the big busted ladies?
No one knows for sure and we can only assume.

What is even more disturbing to me is the fact that despite many people have been discussing this issue and calling them on it, Spice has not yet breathed a word or made any kind of statement on The Bra Issue.

I have received inane messages from Spice's PR, Ms. Driselle Ramjohn via the Spice Group on Facebook since the launch, including one this morning saying "You can message me right here on facebook or e-mail me at of you have any questions or queries". 

Well I did that earlier this week and up to the time of this post, I have not received a response from Ms. Ramjohn or anyone in Spice. (this same Ms. Ramjohn never called me back when I asked about a mediapass for the launch, but anyhoo).

Spice has done and continues to do a HORRIBLE job when it comes to effective communication to their past and potential masqueraders.

And it is not just with this bra issue as up to this morning, I received the following email from an overseas masquerader...



I follow your blog and was wondering if you had any information on how to contact Spice for Ceylon Pearls. I have sent them an email via their websi

te last week and still have not heard any response.


I thought I would give it one more try and then I’ll go spend my money with another band that understands customer service.


I responded to the person that I would enquire on their behalf and that they should also contact Spice via the email address Spice indicated.

Come on Spice, you are my band of choice this year, say something man! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Spice Mas Camp Review...

After waiting all night and for most of the day for Spice's website to come up, I made my way to the mas camp yesterday after work.

There were not many people at the time that I visited.
I like the new location as well as the layout of the new mas camp. When I arrived, there was only a handful of persons at the mas camp, including band leader Anya Elias.

Anya herself greeted me and told me that if I had any questions I could ask her.

There are no male or frontline costumes up at the mas camp and while I understand the constraints of the space, I would have still loved to see one or two frontlines on display.

I took in the costumes one by one, saving my very favorite for last, I didn't even want to look in the direction of it!

After seeing the costumes up close and personal I have to say that my thoughts from Spice's Launch haven't changed that much if at all.

My least favorites have remained the same: China, Merchants of Venice (which looks more and more like Silver Mess cousin...what does this designer have with furry type elements?) and Ratpnapurta.

Gates of Petra has moved up my list a bit. I like the shade of pink and the gems on it are less pink than I thought at first. I also think is is TRES skimpy. Bring yuh bess body and come with that one.

Rubies of Mumbai both backline and frontline are beautiful costumes with just enough detail.

While the bra for Rome is very dark, it's an iridescent colour and I like the overall look of this costume.

Caspian Sea backline seems kind of dull and a bit dinged to me, but it may have just been the lighting or because it was used at the launch. It is still very nicely detailed.

I love the shade of purple used in Greece, and I could just picture this gorgeous frontline on the road.

I wish Adulis had a frontline or individual option. I love the combination of colours on this costume. This costume and a pair of bronze boots? Simple but fabulous.

I like the shade of orange in Moroccan Heat as well as the design headpiece.

My top three favorite costumes are now Ceylon Pearls, Thailand and Isis.

The detail on these three is simply amazing. Love the pearls on Ceylon Pearls, love the belt on
Thailand, love the Isis bling!

The mas camp is very nicely decorated. There are boots on display which I was advised would only be available in-house and would be with a flat heel instead of the high heel. The cost will be $350.00.

With regard to the costume prices I think that the costumes are expensive yes, but masqueraders have kept asking for more...more feathers, more bling, more that is what you are paying for. As always, the choice is yours and know yuh budget!

Overall after visiting the mas camp yesterday I was very pleased with Spice and after doing a lot of obsessing over my top three favorites I think I have finally come to a decision on my costume of choice.

A word of advice to Spice however.
You guys seriously need to improve on dissemination of information. Sending out an email about the delay of the website after 8:00pm yesterday when people were expecting it to be up at midday cannot cut it.

I'm a member of the Facebook group because I want to get info from YOU. Facebook is not there fuh style. I rather be killed with info than left in the dark.

As of this post (6:15pm) there is not a picture, price or video posted by the admins of the FB group. Dat eh cutting it.

As for the whole "bra issue"...I will have to save that for another post.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Spice Mas Camp Opens Monday...

Spice's mas camp is scheduled to open on Monday and I am very excited to see my costume faves up close and personal.

The mas camp has moved, and are located at the corner of Robert and Rosalino Street...yuh cyar miss de big boat out in front!

Look out for my pics and review!