All About Monday Wear

All About Monday Wear

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I remember the first time I heard “Monday Wear.” What is Monday wear? Where do I…

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Saint Lucia Carnival Costumes

Saint Lucia Carnival Costumes

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We all know the trophy will undoubtedly return to Trinidad next year, but the buzz around…

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Saint Lucia Carnival 2022: The ULTIMATE guide.

By Posted on 5min read125 views

Ever since I saw the social media footage from Saint Lucia Carnival 2019, I knew I had to be there.  Unfortunately, COVID did its thing, but outside is open… and so is Saint Lucia (SLU).  And so, ya’ girl is on a mission to experience “bam bam wall” AND explore this stunning island country. I see some drone footage in my future. Anyways, 

St. Lucia carnival will be on July 18th and 19th this year.  The first day of Vaval will be in costume (pretty mas), followed by Monday wear on day two.

This blog will give you more than carnival and fete details. I will provide you with information on tours, CDC recommendations for travel, important phone numbers you should save, what to do if you lose your passport, etc. So read on!

I also wrote a blog on safety tips for solo travelers, but many of them apply to groups.  Be sure to check it out here.

 

Saint Lucia Carnival 2019 Masquerader
Photo Credit: Fire Online Radio

Getting to Saint Lucia

There are two airports that you can fly into.  Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) lies on the southernmost part of the island, and is about 90 minutes from Gros Islet and Rodney Bay.   George FL Charles Airport (SLU) is approximately 25 minutes south of Rodney Bay and Gros Islet.  If you are looking for flights now, I will say a prayer for you, because the ticket prices are through the roof.  To learn how to save money by accruing airline miles, click here.

If you are coming in through UVF like I am, mentally prepare yourself for a LONG ride, as traffic is frequently heavy. A follower detailed her experience of a three-hour ride.

Where to Stay

Based on the feedback of various SLU revelers and tourists, it is recommended you stay in the Rodney Bay or Gros Islet area.  The island may be small, but traffic is expected to be difficult (and lengthy) to navigate.  Apart from Airbnb, some recommended hotels include:

  • Bay Gardens Hotel
  • Hideaway at Royalton
  • Mystique Saint Lucia
  • Royalton Resort & Spa
  • The Harbor Club
Saint Lucia Carnival SLU

Carnival Costumes

The cost of travel to Saint Lucia Carnival has increased, and the costume prices are commensurate with the change of times.  Based on the bands I have evaluated, I have seen the prices of female costumes range from $700 – $1400.  Many sections were already sold out as they rolled over 2020 masqueraders into this year. But trust me, there are PLENTY options available. Click the names of the bands to head to their websites.

The Fetes

Suits Saint Lucia Carnival 2022
Not being the biggest fete-goer, I know suits is a DO NOT MISS. Click the photo for tickets!

I have never gone to SLU, and there is no way I will spend all my time partying and not experiencing this beautiful island and culture. But Icebox Entertainment has been known to produce premium events, and I will be checking them out to see for myself. Click the event names to purchase tickets:

Global Carnivalist has a comprehensive list of fetes surrounding Saint Lucia Carnival 2022.  Be sure to check it out. 

Culture and Tourism

Saint Lucia Pitons

Experiencing the island and its culture is an absolute must.  There is so much more to this island than Saint Lucia Carnival! I will be in SLU for more than a week and have a few experiences on my list.  Here is a list of things to do while on the island:

  • Hiking the pitons
  • Marigot Bay
  • Snorkeling in Anse Chastanet
  • Tet Paul Nature Trail
  • Sulphur Springs (Soufrière)
  • Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens (Waterfalls and Mineral Baths)
  • Morne Coubaril Historical Adventure Park
  • Pigeon Island National Park

Safety information

Saint Lucia Taxi Plate
SLU Taxis are marked with a baby-blue license plate.

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  It is a free service that allows US citizens and nationals to register their overseas travel with the nearest US Embassy. 

The benefits of enrolling in STEP include: 

  • Receiving important safety information about your area of travel.
  • Establishing a means for the US Embassy to contact you in an emergency back home.
  • Help the US Embassy contact you in a natural disaster or civil unrest.

 

Saint Lucia is known to be safe, but you should always practice safety measures.

Authorized Taxis in Saint Lucia have light blue license plates with a “TX” prefix.

Important Numbers:

  • Fire and Ambulance: 911
  • Police (Emergencies): 999
  • Castries Police: +1 (758) 456 3871
  • Gros Islet Police: +1 758-456-3830
  • Marigot Bay Police: +1(758) 456 389
  • Rodney Bay Police: +1 (758) 456 3832
  • Soufrière Police: +1(758) 456 3627

Many hotels have a doctor on call. In-house visits are $15 USD

Hospitals/Clinics

  • Victoria Hospital: +1 758-452-2421/7059
  • St. Jude’s Hospital Vieux Fort:+1 758-454-6041
  • Soufriere +1 758-459-7258/5001
  • Dennery +1 758-453-3310
  • Tapion Hospital +1 758-459-2000
  • OKEU Hospital: +1 758-458-6500
  • Gros Islet Polyclinic: +1 758-450-9661

There is no US Embassy in Saint Lucia, which is problematic if you lose your passport. You will need to first file a police report before contacting the Consulate General of Saint Lucia in New York.

For a health packing list and recommended vaccines before traveling to St. Lucia, click here.

 

Randoms, but important to know.

Currency in Saint Lucia: 

XCD (Eastern Caribbean Dollar). As of April 28th, 1 XCD =.37 USD. Saint Lucia accepts USD, and currency exchange booths are available at airports.  Some hotels and resorts also do currency exchange.

Electricity (A BIG DEAL): 

Most visitors will need a converter/transformer.  St. Lucia
uses 240 Volts and 50 Cycles AC. You can find budget converters on Amazon here.

Communications: Digicel and FLOW

VAT: 10% on hotel and restaurant bills

Tipping: Customary 10-12%

Customs Regulations:
Duty-Free Shopping: Pointe Seraphine, La Place, Carenage, Departure Lounge
of UVF and Shopping Malls.

Major Import/Export Restrictions that may apply to you: 

Don’t bring weed, and don’t try to leave with it.

Leave your camo prints at home. Camo print is authorized only for military and may be confiscated.

Im so excited!

Traveling to Saint Lucia has been on my bucket list for YEARS.  Add Carnival into the mix? I’m over the moon!  

I hope you find all of the information provided useful to you. Please share with others planning to attend.  Be safe, and most impotantly, have fun!

See you on BAM BAM WALL!!!!!

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Caribbean Carnival and Heat Injuries

Caribbean Carnival and Heat Injuries

By Posted on 5min read91 views

AWM, PA-C here!  I have been in medicine since 2003 and certified as a physician assistant…

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Travel hacks: Earn airline miles without flying.

Travel hacks: Earn airline miles without flying.

By Posted on 3min read107 views

Outside has officially opened, and flight prices are through the roof (no thanks to COVID and…

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Carnival costumes: Hiring a designer.

By Posted on 3min read98 views

There are a few reasons why someone may wish to hire a designer for a carnival costume.  A common trend among avid Caribbean carnival-goers is for birthday and maternity shoots.  

Many people will look to a designer if there is a section they want to be in, but feather or bodywear options aren’t available. In those cases, people will purchase the backline bodywear and go to a designer for the frills.

As for me, I have commissioned some designers to shoot for carnival content and personalize a costume I bought for the road. I will share how I commission a designer and leave you some tips. 

To read about my carnival must-haves, click here.

Contacting a designer

Carnival costumes
This was a commissioned design by Marlon Smart.

Many carnival costume designers take custom work for hire.  Bear in mind their availability depends on what other obligations they have going on throughout the year, and for many, it’s a second job.  With many COVID restrictions finally lifting, all I can say is that your designer is likely HELLA busy.  It’s not to say they won’t be available for hire, but you will need to think very far ahead about when you would like to receive your costume.  

I have been successful by connecting on Instagram or by email. If you contact them without a response, give it a few days before trying again.

If a designer accepts your inquiry, it’s essential to be clear about what you are asking for. This cannot be undone once the materials are purchased, and the costume is made according to your request.

Pay them their worth, no haggling.

monday wear
This Monday wear design was commissioned from Chez Zen Mas.

DO NOT.  I MEAN. DO NOT. HAGGLE THEIR PRICE. 

In 2020, I paid about $350 for Monday wear.  In 2019 I paid about $650 for a large headpiece.  I have spent $850 and $1250 for a complete carnival costume design.  Their work and time are precious. Designers take their time and space for an individual commission when their time and efforts can be focused elsewhere.  Please respect it and don’t contact these designers unless you are serious and ready to pay them for their time. 

Always make sure the designer provides you with an invoice.  Review the invoice in its entirety; if something is missing, make sure it is corrected before remitting payment.

I will always encourage you to make your payments through means that can be traced. This includes PayPal, debit, and credit cards.  Companies such as Venmo and cashapp will dispute the validity of a transaction and cannot do much for you if you do not receive your goods.

Set reasonable expectations.

American Wines Matter Carnival Costume
This costume was commissioned by Stronjeh.

I do not recommend you hire a designer for a carnival costume if your delivery window is tight.  I recommend hiring a designer with their timeline in mind and adding a cushion of a few weeks before you need the product.  Some designers can do it all (wire bending, sewing, featherwork), and some cannot.  In most cases, you won’t know their abilities until there is a delay. For example, I have personal orders delayed because the wire-bender had not finished their part of the job. Just know that when people have to rely on others to make magic happen, it increases the likelihood of delays.

You will be expected to pay to ship your costume in most cases.  Shipping costs are contingent upon the origination, weight, and dimension of a box.  If you are ordering a costume with large pieces, you may find that sending it via air cargo to pick it up at an airport may be more cost-effective.

Execute good judgment.

Hiring a costume designer is a simple process, but I hope the tidbits I leave you with help.

Word of mouth is key when choosing a carnival costume designer. In my experience, there are some I will encourage you to work with and some I won’t work with again. 

Below is a list of designers on my radar that I am aware of taking commissions (in no particular order).  Those who are annotated with are those I have worked with and recommend you give a try:

DTZ Designs

WiredChic **

Dana Leigh **

Designed by Marlon Smart **

Stronjeh International**

Chezzen Mas 

Ginger Wire Bras

Premiere Mas Designs

 

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Carnival newbie tip: Thank your carnival veteran.

Carnival newbie tip: Thank your carnival veteran.

By Posted on 4min read86 views

Dear carnival newbie, If you are blessed to have a carnival veteran take you on your…

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Group travel tip: Assemble your crew wisely.

Group travel tip: Assemble your crew wisely.

By Posted on 3min read129 views

Many people believe the first step in preparing for Caribbean carnival is registration. With experience, you…

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Caribbean carnival platforms to follow

By Posted on 4min read123 views

AWM’s platform is going on its fourth year in 2022! But guess what?

  • There are many people that’s been doing this way longer than I.
  • I don’t know it all.
  • There’s a good chance I haven’t gone to your carnival of interest.
  • I’m NOT the biggest fete person.

This platform is based on my experiences and perspectives of Caribbean Carnival as an African American.  I WANT YOU to check out the other content creators! Especially those of West-Indian descent.  Check below for a list of notable content creators and platforms you should follow/use to learn about Caribbean culture and experience Caribbean carnival from different lenses.

Caribbean Carnival content creators

Crista aka Bahamianista. Photo Credit Bahamainista.com

Tingz Nice

In my eyes, Sha is the OG Carnival mentor.  I remember watching her YouTube videos as I got ready for my first carnival experience.  Her YouTube videos about Carnival still ring relevant! She runs a podcast, and I’ve purchased several pairs of her earrings.

Blackie97

The go-to for all things soca music.  He will keep you abreast of all the latest releases, so you are prepared to revel in the familiarity of the tunes. Blackie also covers the goings-on at fetes and has excellent content about fete etiquette.  If you want to learn how to gracefully solicit a w(h)ine without getting curved, this is the guy to watch.

Bahamianista

Crista is a lifestyle, fitness, and travel influencer who has probably done most Caribbean Carnival events.  She was my go-to source for Carnival events I was unfamiliar with.  Many tips I have shared have been learned from her. 

OHG Choice

Also known as OHGVibe on YouTube, he is known for covering Carnival’s good, bad, and ugly.  He has pivoted into a skincare niche, but as outside opens up, I expect him to produce amazing content, especially for St. Lucia Carnival 2022 with Xuvo.

Carnivalbae

Headed to Caribana this year? Carnivalbae is carnival influencer and freelance model, she posts weekly tips to get you prepared.  Check her out.

More Caribbean Carnival creators...

Caribbean Carnival content creator
Simone aka everytingsimsimma. Photo: Travel Noire

EverytingSimSimma

I love Simone and her food porn. Also represents our curvy girls that play mas and has been featured on Travel Noire! Simone is super talented with photography and evokes serious envy with her footage of drone flights over St. Kitts.

Fluffy Carnival Gyal

I love her because she openly takes on difficult topics as it pertains to Caribbean Carnival and culture.  Also gives a plus-size masquerader perspective.

Strictly Soca

Runs an entertainment website dedicated to all things Soca and Caribbean carnival. I also love that they capture about Carnival highlights ALL body types.

Mickisha 868

I love her most for her makeup tips and ideas! She has a wide variety of content shared on her YouTube channel, including skin care, natural hair care, travel and more. She does a lot of Carnival makeup tips and looks, and also covers all things carnival.

Carnival forums, directories, and apps

CarniPass

CarniPass was also known as Feters Lifestyle but has since pivoted into a Social Networking Platform and Carnival Guide.  Be sure to head over to their website and download their app while you’re at it.

SoloMas App

It’s true that when you play mas, you will never be alone. Solo masquerader? Looking for a travel/fete buddy? Check out the SoloMas App.

My Carnival Match

Your Caribbean carnival directory! Search for carnival-related services (hair and makeup, etc), and they even have a forum where you can chat it up with others in the Carnival community.  Need to buy or sell fete tickets or a costume? They got you covered.

Initiatives

Know Your Caribbean

I just love this page.  Fiona has expanded my mind in unimaginable ways and has encouraged me to do a lot of my own research.  Learning about Caribbean culture and the roots of Carnival will also help you deeply connect to the experience and perhaps make you love it as much as I do.

CarniCycle

Caribbean Carnival is an incredible experience, but it is not sustainable at all.  CarniCycle is working hard to reduce the carbon footprint of carnival and make it greener overall. Follow them, learn some green tips, and show support!

This list was in no particular order of importance, and will be refined as I discover other amazing creators and initiatives that resonate with the message of AWM’s mission statement.

. This platform aims to function as a branch of a tree, bringing you to Caribbean content creators to expand your mind and encourage you to get out there and play mas from an educated point of view. Besides, I can’t do this alone! I hope this list was helpful to you.  Be sure to share with others!

If there is someone I overlooked, please hit the comments below!

.

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Jamaica Carnival 2022: “Tough Luck.”

Jamaica Carnival 2022: “Tough Luck.”

By Posted on 3min read96 views

Jamaica Carnival will take place July 10th this year and was announced with advanced notice of…

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South Carolina Carnival

South Carolina Carnival

By Posted on 3min read110 views

I had no idea there was a Caribbean carnival in South Carolina until I moved back…

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