At 32 years old, I took my first trip to Trinidad Carnival and it was the most exhilarating experience of my entire life. I barely slept, I sustained injuries I couldn’t explain and came home thirsty to do it all again. Initially I wished I’d discovered the adult playground earlier but in your 30s, you can afford the plane ticket and are mature enough to grind on oil-covered strangers for a week and return home without offspring.
However, you’ll need to channel that invincible energy of your 20s because carnival is not a game. Last year I met some professional football players, who are trained to endure, but couldn’t hang after 48 hours. So plan ahead and be prepared to dance like it’s paying the rent for seven days straight.
Your 30-something body still looks pretty damn good, which is great because you will be nearly naked. Your costume is essentially a few shoestrings, and a feather for good luck, as your glory roams free for the world to see. But relax, while you may not be college-skinny anymore, neither is anyone else on the road and real curves are actually celebrated down there. No lie, there’s a song called “Rolly Polly” and the chorus is “I want a fat gal!” So add the local appreciation for thickness to that confident stride you hit in your 30s and you’ll hit the road for the first time feeling like a glitter-covered sex kitten!
Here’s a quick reality check, Carnival is less like walking the runway and more like running a marathon with rum in your water bottle. The parade is 12 hours long for two days straight with the Caribbean sun roasting your skin to a crisp. Every time you stop dancing you’ll waver between euphoria and exhaustion, praying silently that you don’t pass out in front of your homies.
Stopping by the gym the week before to ‘tighten up a lil’ bit’ won’t cut it for this sort of intensity and your 30-something body takes longer to respond now. So get your cardio life in order two-three months in advance so you’re not caught gasping for air on the road like that old auntie who smokes 14 packs of Newports a day.
By now most of us have learned how to drink like professionals. Hydrate before and after, know your limits and pace yourself accordingly. But carnival is a completely different ball game and you can easily find yourself downing half a bottle of rum before 10 AM and dancing on top of guy in a wheelchair wearing a blinking cowboy hat. Hypothetically. Whatever. He liked it.
Anyway, there’s also this new phenomenon called recovery time that creeps up in your 30s. One day you’re out innocently touching knees to elbows on a Tuesday and the next day at work your body is like nope.
Here’s the solution; the same way you pace your drinking, learn how to nap like a newborn. You’ll be coming home at all kinds of odd hours but whatever time it is, take your behind to bed. If you don’t, by J’ouvert morning you’ll find yourself laid clean out in the middle of the street, covered in paint and snuggled up on a nice grassy curb like it’s a Sleep Number bed.
At the end of the day, if you are a lover of music and good vibes, Carnival is an experience you must try at least once. It’s a celebration that people of all ages have enjoyed for generations with activities that appeal to everyone. Whether you’re 35 or 55, it’s never too late to take your first trip and with the right preparation, you’ll happily join the millions of people around the world who are “ready for de road.”
See you next year!
– Tracey Coleman, a witty storyteller from Brooklyn with an unhealthy obsession with food and an even bigger appetite for travel. Follow her adventures at @bktraveladdict on Instagram and Twitter, and on Facebook.
Image via Dwayne Watkins – dwaynewatkins.com.
Last 5 posts by Tracey Coleman
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- The Hustler’s Guide to Budget Travel - January 28th, 2015