Didn’t think there was carnival in Haiti? Yes there is. Here’s the thing. If your idea of carnival is associated mainly with soca and calypso music, then you only think of islands such as Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada as having carnivals. BUT, if your idea of carnival is more… inclusive, and carnival is also about the tradition of making mas, the costumes, the freedom on the road, ‘the release’ as one artist put it and the given culture’s interpretation of those ideas, then you will realise that there are carnivals all over the Caribbean and world wide that don’t include soca and calypso. The creole speaking Caribbean islands such as Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti have rich, thriving and beautiful carnivals. Dutch speaking islands such as St. Maarten have carnivals. Brazil has one of the biggest carnivals on the planet. Someone on social media asked if you can have carnival without soca? Oh yes! And with that in mind Ilovecarnivall goes to check out the carnivals (note the plural) of Haiti.
I could go to Trinidad carnival again. It’s a fun and an amazing carnival experience and has been called the Mecca of Caribbean carnivals. But I know about Trinidad carnival. I know what to expect, the fetes, the carnivals, who will be there. I don’t know anything about the carnivals in Haiti. I don’t know how the creole speaking Caribbean islands do their carnivals; what is their focus? The music? The costumes? Just participating? This is my chance to find out more, learn more about their culture and art of carnival and perhaps to see some of my favourite creole artists!
Carnival in Haiti has been on my mind for at least two years now. I’m excited, so excited! The international media generally concentrates on Haiti’s poverty, on its bad luck, not the resilience of the Haitian people, or their incredible strength, creativity and beauty. I have heard so many good things about the Haitian carnivals, I need to go. People say ‘yeah, Haiti is not safe you shouldn’t go’. If I thought like that, I wouldn’t leave my home to go to work everyday. Just leaving my front door, anything could happen. And from media coverage, sounds like some of the popular carnivals are not so safe anymore anyway. So I leave the familiar for the not so familiar.
I’ve heard the city of Jacmel is very similar to New Orleans in terms of art and architecture. I’m going to find out. I’ve heard the carnival in Port au Prince is something else. I’m going to find out. I’ve heard that Haiti is absolutely stunning. I’m going to find out. I’m going to find out. My heart is racing, I’m smiling, this is my familiar rush. I can’t wait.