41st Bday in MIA

For my 41st birthday I decided to take a last minute vacay, but after taking my big trips for the year (1) Trinidad carnival with a mini extended layover in Panama and then (2) Jamaica carnival I now realized that I am poor.  I make a cost estimate spreadsheet for every tip I take cause I need to see that the dollars make sense ¢. I debated going home to Panama or back to Jamaica or Cancun, but my spreadsheet told me to go my favorite affordable city MIAMI even tho I went there in January and February.  The travel snobs tell us that Miami is played out and we need to get our passport stamp game up... to them I say, “Eat Poo!”  There are so many things to do and see in Miami, how could one ever get bored with it?

So off to Miami I went by myself the Tuesday after Memorial Day, I know so many people that live down there so I am never truly alone.  Even tho my hotel was on South Beach and I was a mere steps form the beach, like a lazy mofo I just chilled on the roof of the hotel, boozing at their pool.  Times like this I remember that, “I aint sh*t!”  I always end up in Miami on Tuesdays cause I love going to Rum & Bass at Coyo Taco in the Wynwood Art District.  Oh how I enjoy NOT partyin in South Beach anymore, I don’t have to dress up and wear heels.  Wynwood spots say, “Come as you are, drink & be merry.  My homie came thru and scooped me and we had to stop for a quick photoshoot in Wynwood. The amazing art in Wynwood is forever changing so when you see some art that you like, you have to snap a pic cause it could be gone the next time you are there. 

Wednesday morning I was up at the crack of dawn and on a double decker bus to Key West (found on Groupon for $28).  Not sure why, but Key West has always been on my list of places that I wanted to go b4 I croak.  I packed a backpack fulla rum, took lots of tourist pix along the famous Seven Mile Bridge, bought a trolley tour around the key/island, of course took a pic in front of the famous Southernmost Point Landmark, did some on -oot touring, and then spent a few hours at the beautiful blue beach.  The beach was sooooo blue, it most def did NOT feel like i was in the US.  I had initially debated spending the night in Key West, but glad I opted for a same day trip because I think I woulda been bored by day 2.  Slept on the ride back to Miami and then freshened up and hit the Wynwood area again.  I was on my way to Wood Tavern ( a very eclectic spot where you see the most randomest things, but the drinks are super cheap), but passed by Coyo Taco in route and could hear some wicked Roots Reggae blasting and my body floated inside. PS: It was awesome!  I spent all Wednesday by myself and it was marvelous cause alone time does the soul good. 

Thursday morning I took a morning stroll to the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial for some quiet moments of reflection.  With the current state of affairs in the US, it makes one wonder if we are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past?!?!
Then instead of going to the beach I once again drank on the rooftop of the hotel cause 2 days later I still wasn’t sh*t!  Thursday I relocated to downtown Miami cause the dollars made sense. As many times as I’ve been to Miami I’ve never utilized the Metromover a 4.4-mile electrically-powered, FREE, fully automated people mover system.  I always saw the cool little trolleys floating through the sky and instead of checking it out, I would walk blocks upon blocks when I coulda been riding for FREE!!!  I got slightly lost on the Metromover cause of course I was drinking and not paying attention to which trains went were, still had fun tho!  Thursday nite my home Tiffany flew down and we headed straight to Wynwood upon her arrival.  Hooray to having a partna in crime for the rest of the weekend. 

On Friday I finally hit Miami beach, but instead of going to the populated areas where the hot mess goes town, we set up further south near the South Pointe board walk.  Brought all the supplies needed for an afternoon of drunken fun (Booze and Bose). Didn’t make it out Friday night cause we are getting old and our bodyz needs sleep.  Instead just drank on the patio and  relaxed!
Saturday was an almost identical replica of Friday except we actually did make it out that night (to a quaint spot in Wynwood of course).
In true Sunday Fun Day fashion we drank all afternoon and evening, at Bayside Marketplace which is a great place for people watching and also in Wynwood at this swanky spot called Rácket that had bottomless mimosas... by now you should already know that bottomless mimosas is my weakness.  I would definitely recommend going here for drinks, but be sure to eat in advance cause they only have snacks on their menu and you need a hearty meal when consuming such mass quantities of alcohol. 
By the end of the weekend we had a marvelous glow after endless kisses from the sun.  My last minute birthday getaway was fantabulous. I'm was so glad I didn't splurge on an pricey location, I needz my coins for rum.  Kudos for my homie Tiffany for joining me on the 2nd half, we had so much fun doing a whole lotta nothing, just drinking and being merry!  

Monday, June 4th was my birthday and I had to spend that back in ATL with my squad. 

Jamaica Carnival 2018

Jamaica Carnival year 6 and my my my how things have changed, a serious influx of partyz. Long gone are the days were there was only one fete and you would run into everyone who was in town for carnival (actually it was kinda nice that there were so many partyz that I did not run into ppl that I DIDNT want to see).  Instead of Wed – Mon, I switched up my days and flew in Thur – Tues.  Used the same travel saving methods discussed in my Trinidad on a Budget blog.  Booked the Marriott Courtyard by purchasing points instead of paying cash.  At the time the Courtyard was a Tier 1 hotel (10K points per night), so I literally saved HALF the cost by buying & booking with points, it has recently updated to a Tier 2 hotel (15K points per night). Flew down on my AA points and flew back on Delta using the skiplagged / hidden-city method.  Delta’s hub is in ATL so almost always, regardless of where you are going on the east coast, you have to layover in ATL. So I booked a flight from Kingston to Orlando that had a layover in Atlanta and that flight was $200 cheaper than me just booking KIN-ATL.  Makes no sense right???  At this point the trip is practically free! 

Arrived Thursday morning and linked up with my Carnival Ace Charmaine (we actually met on the road Trinidad Carnival Monday 2011 and been hitting international carnivals together ever since) . For the most part we switched up the fete schedule, but we had so much fun at AFLOAT boat party last year that we decided to go again.  AFLOAT is hosted aboard the Treasure Queen, a 3 floor, 500 person capacity ship… it grew so much in size that they had to add a 2nd boat.  Even with half the patrons being on a 2nd boat, we still ran into a lot of familiar faces and had the time of our lives.  Can’t go wrong at a drinks inclusive fete.  “Keep di Wray & Ting coming bar-man” (said in my In Living Color, Hey Mon accent) Ran into “the fellas” that we met our first year at JA carnival and have been fete’n with worldwide ever since.  Perfect way to start of the 6 day fete a thon.  
Boat 1
Boat 2

The Fellas!!!
We had bought tix to a midnight – 6am Silent Party, but the bed held us hostage and we just slept right thru it.  We both actually woke up, but said, “F*ck dat sh*t” and went right back to sleep.  When we did finally wake up we headed to Hookie breakfast party, we caught the early portion of the fete because we had another fete in the afternoon. If you know anything about Caribbean fetes, people always arrive towards the end.  But we merrily drank champagne and ate a yummy Caribbean breakfast while overlooking the beautiful Constant Spring Golf Course. 
Went back to the hotel, changed clothes and then headed to DJ Private Ryan’s Soca Brainwash.   Brainwash never disappoints, Private Ryan knows how to throw a good fete! Just like in Trinidad, Brainwash is the fete that I saw the most familiar faces.  Plenty plenty bars, the drinks never ran out and there several food options cause you know drunk people turn in to Hungry Hostages.

Saturday morning we usually head to AMBush around 2am, but this year we skipped it, had a liquid breakfast at the hotel then went to pick our costumes from the Xaymaca mas camp. Oh I forgot to mention that we switched from Bacchanal JA to Xaymaca this year.   Costume pick up is usually a painful 4 hour process, but we were in/out in about 30min.  Had so much time to kill, we went back and had a patio lyme at the hotel *whoop whoop* 

Saturday afternoon we headed to Sunkissed beach fete.  Sunkissed was a splendiferous catamaran cruise to a magical island called Maiden Cay that I haven’t been on since JA carnival 2014.
Maiden Cay is a small uninhabited island located off the coast of Port Royal, Kingston, Jamaica. It is little more than an elevated sandbar with sparse vegetation. It's a popular destination and rest spot for sunbathers, snorkelers and boaters / yachters, and it is also frequently used for day time beach parties. (www.maidencay.com)
Maiden Cay reminds me so much of one of my favorite childhood stories, “The Little Prince” about a boy who lived alone on a tiny asteroid.  Being on the tiny island was everything I ever needed in my life!  The girls and I went straight to work on a photoshoot cause as you know, girls love a photoshoot!!!  We then drank & lyme’d with friends for who knows how many hours.  Ended the day feeling very satisfied! In past years we would go to the Frechmen Bazodee fete on Saturday night, but this year we went to bed and rested up for the road. 

Road March Sunday, we normally touch di road around noon still feeling slightly sluggish from the night before, but this year we hit the road around 10am feeling fully charged up!  Jamaica carnival doesn’t have a 2 hour lunch like Trinidad, that can be a good and a bad thing.  It’s great when you arrived around noon and just wanna eat & keep it moving, but when you been drinking all morning & early afternoon in the sun, you could use a liKKle time to recharge.  Anyway, we ate and caught a quick powernap and kept on fete’n until 8pm. I really don’t remember much from the road, but my photos tell me that I has a BLAST… THANK GOODNESS for photos. I was quite shocked to still have energy when the road march ended.   At the time I kinda missed the years of Bacchanal JA’s after party, but then I ate and got the ITIS and Carnival Sunday was wrap!!!
You know you are in the Carib when you mas band has White Henn, but ppl aren't even drinking it cause
Rum & Whiskey are the drinks of choice.

Xaymaca International

Monday was the Xaymaca beach cool down lyme.  This was a cooler fete that was free to Xaymaca masqueraders (this is the reason I stayed till Tuesday).  You know things go downhill quick when you are your own bartender, I think everyone got extra extra extra LITTY cause they knew the marvelous trip was coming to an end.  I probably shoulda packed some snacks cause drunk me ended up begging Cheetos from the guy next to us!  *thanks stranger* No complaints here, free fetes are A-ok with me! 
Tuesday was farewell drinks and sadly making our way home!!!  As always JA carnival was amazing, two thumbs up.  During Trinidad carnival we didn't do any boat rides or have time to hit the beach so this trip had me on Cloud 9. JA carnival is as much fun as Trinidad carnival, but half the price. After 6 marvelous years, we are contemplating trying a different carnival instead next year.  Stay Tuned!  I leave you with a few stolen moments of me in my “Happy Place”

Trinidad Carnival 2018

Back to Trinidad carnival after taking 2017 off.  I tried to get my brother Paco to go to Panama with me immediately following Trinidad, Ash Wednesday thru the following Monday (President’s Day) since I didn’t really want to go to Tobago on Ash Wednesday like we usually did in the past. He said that we would be too tired to head to Panama after a week in Trinidad so I convinced him to go to Panama BEFORE Trinidad instead.  Muahahaha Left Atlanta on Tuesday night, had a quick yet amazing time in the Motherland with a few of our cousins that we convinced to come to the capital to party with us.  I know this is a Trinidad blog, but I gotta hit ya with a couple pix from my homeland.

Headed to Trinidad on Thursday evening and as the song says, “Di Bouncin Start!”  Trinidad now has Uber so we figured we would give that a try from the airport to the hotel instead of the usual $40 taxi fare.  That was a No Go, 1st it said No Cars available, then it said 30min wait.  Uber in Trinidad still needs a little more time to get to 100%.  Usually no matter what wait time the Uber app gives you, it takes about 3x longer for the driver to arrive.  Several drivers called me to ask my destination because they didn’t want to leave downtown POS (Port of Spain). It’s a good thing that we didn’t plan on using Uber to get to/from fetes in the boonies. 

Decided to just lime on “di Ave” Thursday night and as in Carnival Thursday’s past, caught the amazing Individual costumes competition.  The craftsmanship put into those individual costumes is just mind blowing.  We then headed over to our favorite bar on di Ave “La Habana” and drank insanely cheap drinks for a few hours and people watched, then grabbed some eats at our favorite Chinese restaurant across the street “Good Luck”. A lot of people crave the Trini dish “Doubles” when they are in Trinidad, but Ima tell you a likkle secret… Paco and I Don’t Like Doubles, which I call a Trini bean burrito.  I was in Trinidad thinking, dayym I want a corn empanada!
Friday morning is usually spent picking up costumes, but we utilized a concierge service this year and had our costumes delivered to us, it was beautiful having all that time back to do with as we wished.  Paco and I wandered around POS in search of a grocery store for food to sustain us for the week.  We stumbled across a little bakery called Bread Basket that had delicious quick eats, then we were lured in Ever Green Grocery store by the nicest old man who entertained me with his crab. We bought a ton of fresh fruit from him then headed over to Massy Grocery for the necessities.  Caught an Uber back to the hotel and took a juicy nap because walking around in the heat is draining.
I really wanted to do a boat ride Friday afternoon, but others voted to do the Scorch _uck Work fete at our hotel instead.  I’m a team player, so _uck Work we went.  When checking into the Hilton I requested a room with a pool view so I could chillax on the patio and enjoy a view of the fete for a while.  Be careful what you wish for, they gave me a room with a half ass view of the pool, but I also didn’t realize that there was a Sunday night fete that would clash with our need to get sleep before J’ouvert. 
I’ll admit that it was nice not having to worry about transportation to/from Scorch and being able to leave/arrive whenever you wanted and not having to wait on the homies.  Had a good time at Scorch,  I was able to step out of the fete and head to the room to get my life together for a bit and then head back to keep party'n. 
3am Saturday morning it was Caesar’s Army – Ambush.  I’m not going to lie to you, the entry into Ambush was a logistical nightmare this year, I think it was more so a lack of communication between the staff that ended up making it hard for attendees to actually get to the starting point of the fete.  Once you made it over that hurdle, it was ALL GOOD IN THE WOODS! They added more music and drink trucks so you had plenty room to spread out and have “Ah Time”  My newbie homies thoroughly enjoyed their 1st Ambush and Paco didn’t get lost so it was all good.  The promoter issued a statement/apology after the fete that all issues would be addressed and fixed for future events, so you guys should be stKRaight for 2019. 

After Ambush we took a powernap then headed to Private Ryan’s Soca Brainwash.  Oh how I just adore Private Ryan, such a nice young man that throws such splendid partyz.  In previous years I took it easy on the vast selection of food, but this year I kinda let myself go in the carnival body department, I didn’t give a *BEEP* and ate ERRRTHANG!!! There were liquor tents everywhere at Brainwash, so you never have to wait long for drinks, then tents dedicated to just one liquor: Patron, Moet, Cîroc, etc. It is a liquor paradise where you can drink your life away, it’s a dayym good fete, actually more so an experience.  As I’ve said in the past, Brainwash is the fete where I see the most familiar faces, always great seeing my long lost carnival friends.  I remember ending up on di Ave after Brainwash, I can’t tell you if we walked there or took an Uber.  I can tell you that we didn’t last long and took our drunk & tired azzes to bed. 

6am Sunday morning we headed to Shades breakfast party.  Now I’ve been going to Shades since 2011, a lot of people rant and rave about how crazy other breakfast partyz get, but I feel like the vybz at Shades suits me fine.  I don’t want to be in an insane madhouse and by Sunday I am tired, but need to get my life together for the BIG DAYS Monday & Tuesday.  Shades is held at an estate that is surrounded by a majestic mountain scenery, each year I find myself just sitting on a chair and enjoying the beautiful mountains for a while, of course with a STRONG drink in my hand . We were at Shades for about 5 hours, what the h*ll does one do in a fete for 5 hours?  iDunno!!!  If I had to guess how the morning went, I would say that we had breakfast, drank and danced for a while; had lunch, drank and danced for a while; had some corn soup, drank and danced for a while.
Took a nap after Shades and woke up just in time to hear a new fete getting started at the Hilton pool.  Feel sorry for those that opted not to nap after Shades aka Paco.  I headed to the Savannah with the homie Jermaine to take a pic with the famous Carnival Countdown clock.  *GRASP* the clock was not there this year *dry cry* oh well, wandered around the Savannah for a bit then off to di Ave we went to drink and be merry!!!  I did however find a vendor with the cutest little bottles of Puncheon for my liquor collection.  For those that don’t know, Puncheon is Trini over proof rum.  To know me is to know that over proof rum is LIFE!!!  So when in Rome (or Trinidad) Puncheon is the liquor of choice…
Ariapita Ave = di Ave
Headed back to the hotel around 8pm to get our lives together for J’ouvert morning.  The stupid hotel fete was still going strong and I regretted requesting a pool view.  We did have a view of the stage and could see Kes, Problem Child, Shal Marshal & other performing.  While I love all those artists, I was tempted to throw a chancla at them, we were 5 hours away from the 3am fete-a-than and I needed Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Woke up around 2:30am Carnival Monday ready for The Big Day!!! Met the other homies at the Dirty Dozen mas camp for the pre J’ouvert fete, around 4:30am the J’ouvert morning road march started and we drunkenly danced around POS while getting DUTTY x2 !!! (1) Dirty & (2) Getting on bad bad bad!!!  I told the newbies that it is a J’ouvert tradition to climb a wall & like crazy maniacs they obliged.  Also during J’ouvert there is always a few people that spend the morning dancing with a bush/tree/twig… that would be me!  Around 8am we called it quits and headed back to hotel to power nap before Part 2 of Carnival Monday. 

Carnival Monday & Tuesday 2016 was #FAIL, we were in “Don’t Give a BEEP* mode & stayed in the room a good portion of both days cause it was like 1 million degrees outside. This year I was determine to do better and dedicate more of the day to being with the carnival band, it didn’t hurt that the temp was only 87 degrees this year. 

Slept for a few hours after J’ouvert and by 12:30pm we were on our way to link up with our band Tribe.  A couple of the other homies were playing mas with Paparazzi so we didn’t get to fete with them on di road.  We drove around in an Uber for like 30 min trying to find Tribe and sadly just missed crossing the Savannah stage with them.  *dry cry*  Any who we once again drunkenly danced around POS till the music trucks shut down for the night around 8pm, we stumbled over to our favorite Chinese spot on di Ave and got some grub and headed back to the hotel around 9pm to get ready for  Carnival Tuesday aka Pretty Mas. 
Tuesday morning we headed out around 9am (keep in mind the trucks get started at 7:30am) and we linked up with Tribe just in time to cross the Socadrome stage.  YES YES and YES because I was highly disappointed in myself for not getting to cross the Savannah stage on Monday.  The crazy part is I remember linking with Tribe and drinking and partying with the random homies that I came across as each section waited to cross the stage, but I have no memory of stepping foot on the stage.  Happy Happy Joy Joy!!!  Tuesday mas was amazing,  I was determined to give it my all, not leave the band, No Surrender, Soca or Die.  That lunchtime nap was everything, can you image how exhausted you have to be to be to sleep on the grass, surrounded by 5,000 ppl and with music trucks blasting chunes?  I slept like baby Monday & Tuesday afternoon, honestly the best naps I’ve gotten in my life!!!  Lunch is usually 2 hours, but Tuesday’s lunch was only 1 ½ and believe me ppl could tell. There were so many people that just lingered around the lunch area and didn’t leave when the band left, us included! 
Paco’s foot was bothering him and he decided to call it a day after lunch (4pm). Being that there was still another 8 hours left in the day with Tribe, he decided not to let his costume go to waste.  He gave his shorts, wrist band, and cup to a homie that was just chillin/storming bands.  I had to capture a pix of Paco walking away in his boxers like a vagabond. 

Any who, I think Karina called it quits around 7pm (update: she apparently stopped at the Savannah to see bands cross the stage then ran into some friends), I was so proud of her being that this was her first Trinidad carnival.  I hung in there and kept fete’n till the trucks shut down around 8pm and then partied at the Tribe, Bliss, Lost Tribe, & Rogue, Last Lap fete until around 9:30pm.  Then I ran outta steam and took my broken down azz back to the hotel. 
She was hesitant at 1st, but once she saw a pic of herself with her new collar she was All Smiles!
PS:  Waiving a flag all day is exhausting, shout out to all the fellas that took it upon themselves to assist with flag waiving duties *MUAH*

My Fit Bit tells the story of my carnival Monday & Tuesday.  This is why I be on the treadmill with a strong drink in my hand, I am conditioning my body for carnival Monday & Tuesday.   It’s not because I care about things like cholesterol or body mass index. Although I will confess to you guys that my drunk ass fell on the treadmill and crashed into the wall once so I don’t really be on there lit anymore. 

In carnivals past we would hop a flight to Tobago on Ash Wednesday morning, but I just wasn’t up for it this year.  Instead Wednesday was spent eating, drinking, and chilling by the pool tryn to fix the crazy tan lines that comes with wearing fish net stockings all day in the sun for two days.  I had an amazing carnival experience this year, I’ve blown so much $$ on Trinidad Carnival though the years, I hoped that this would be my last trip, but I can’t promise that.  I’m going to skip 2019, but who knows maybe I’ll be back in 2020.    

I leave you with my blog on how-to-attend-trinidad-carnival-on-a-budget and Paco's Carnical Mon & Tue recap video… enjoy!!!

Omg wait! I forgot to shout out my friend Yolanda and this amazing collar she designed and gave away another future carnivalian. *tear tear* the joy in giving your collar away is priceless!