S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Limin' at the Pan Concert

Monday, September 25
Chaguaramas, Trinidad

This will be, we hope, our last blog from Trinidad. We have taken a few final days here to stock the pantry and try to clean the terrible mess INSIDE the boat that working on the outside most of the summer has caused. The weather looks promising for tomorrow.

In the meantime, we capped off our time here by taking a trip down to the grounds owned by the Angostura Bitters factory (it's made here and only here, the recipe a carefully-guarded secret). There was an outdoor steel-band concert last night, put on as part of Carifesta, a monthlong celebration of all things Caribbean.

Steel drums, known as "pans" locally, were first fashioned into musical instruments in Trinidad in the early 20th century. They are a central part of Caribbean culture and music-making, featured during carnival, and lots of fun to hear. The biggest competition bands have up to 120 people. What we saw last night was modest by comparison, but the sound of 25 or so people playing in a steel band still needs very little amplification when played for a crowd.

The concert cost us each about $18 U.S., an outrageous sum by local standards, but perfectly reasonable to us, given how well organized the night was, with two stages so one band could set up while the other was playing. We even got a gander at the president of Trinidad, who stayed for the first half of the night.

There were 8 bands in all, and they played for about 6 hours, their range encompassing tunes from ABBA and the Mighty Sparrow (famous early Calypso singer) to Lionel Richie (it was actually really good), local pop music, and tunes they had composed themselves. Some bands brought in violins, singers, and electric guitars. Still, 6 hours is a LOT of pan music. The middle acts lacked the enthusiasm of some of the early bands, and I found I preferred those whose musicians danced and sang along with the drums. One band even had three dancers in carnival customes who came out and danced the limbo, until finally one of the dancers shimmied on her back beneath a lit pole only 18 inches from the ground! I was certain her feathered headpiece was going to light up.

Dean and I also had our final meal of Bake 'n Shark, a delicious sandwich made of fried shark in fried bread, topped with lettuce and hot sauce and anything else you want, available for the princely sum of $1.50 U.S.

As this is Trinidad, and like everything else in the Caribbean, the concert ran late. Our ride arrived at midnight, bedore the final band came on, and we left while the night was in full swing. Today is Republic Day in Trinidad, so nobody else in the place looked like they had any intention of going to bed soon.


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