Every year, my sister and I go to Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. For years I have tried to to explain the concept of â€œcarnivalâ€ to my American friends. Iâ€™m slowly understanding that the idea is ridiculously foreign: replace cotton candy for endless top-shelf liquor, Ferris wheels for huge trucks blasting music throughout the entire city and lame whack-a-mole games for half-naked women and men â€œwiningâ€ on one another in elaborate beaded/feathered costumes. It just seems absurd for those used to a traditional American-styled carnival and, when I sit back and think about it, thousands of people parading and dancing through the streets does seem a little crazy. But that is precisely what makes me return annually: I know that Iâ€™m getting into something so ridiculously unconventional that anything can happen.In 2009, I â€œplayed masâ€ (donned one of those aforementioned sexy costumes) for the first time and wore cheap ass shoes. The soles came off halfway through the day, so I partied the rest of the day barefoot.Â This year definitely did not lack eventfulness in comparison: I partied for three days straight with Beenie Man and his crew on zero sleep, got mild blood poisoning from wearing blue body paint for an entire day, had my bag stolen (along with my passport, cash and some credit cards), and fell in love â€” all over the course of a few days.
Iâ€™m honestly not very big on celebrity culture; I could seriously say I couldnâ€™t care less. I guess that is why I had no idea who the hell the Grammy-winning reggae artist Beenie Man was when he approached me at a bar in Trinidad to buy me a drink. I reluctantly took the drink from him and continued dancing the night away with my sister as if nothing had Â happened. He later tracked me down and asked me to hang out with him. His actions definitely say a lot about men: even when they have attained celebrity status they obsess over what they canâ€™t easily have. Speculation aside, whatever the reason was, he took my sister and me on a wild VIP adventure through parties, boat rides and even a chocolate-covered morning â€œfeteâ€ (letâ€™s just say another word for party). By the time it was all over, I hadnâ€™t slept in days, had a ridiculous headache and was passport-less!