Sparkly Bikinis and Flamboyant Birds

Definition of ILLUMINATE:

 : to enlighten spiritually or intellectually
: to supply or brighten with light (2) : to make luminous or shining
a : to make clear : elucidate
b : to bring to the fore : highlight <a crisis can illuminatehow interdependent we all are>
: to make illustrious or resplendent
: to decorate (as a manuscript) with gold or silver or brilliant colors or with often elaborate designs or miniature pictures

There are times when this New England girl finds Trinidad overwhelming in its intensity and unyielding  illumination.

While New England has plenty of room for neutral gray in-betweens,

Trinidad is unflinching in its passionate spirit.

When people have an opinion, it is never half-hearted.  Rather, it is usually forthright and dramatically clear.

When the sun shines, it shines plenty hot.

When the rain comes, it comes quick, hard, and then leaves just as abruptly, often leaving  in its wake a rainbow.

 How dare I complain about a rainbow?  A color hound like me, whining about a rainbow.  Its not a complaint so much, as it may be a fervency overload.

Perhaps I am suffering from subtleness withdrawal.

Am I craving a bit of the insular New England everyone-keeping-to-themselves-ness?

With the constant enthusiastic bombardment of excitement, I find myself longing for some quiet contemplative time;


to see what is going on in my own head.

In the Meyer’s Briggs Personality test, an extrovert is someone who gets energized from being around large groups of people,

while an introvert is someone who finds motivation in being either alone or with one or two people at a time.


I think introverts like me may fall into the endangered species category here in Trinidad.

The extroverted passionate zeal is winding up as Carnival approaches.  The music is getting louder and more celebratory, drifting from  houses, car speakers, and  steel pan yards throughout town.  The rum and beer are flowing along with the soca music.

The excitement of jumping up and and playing mas  is revving up.

Throngs of people running and working out can be seen along the streets and in the local gyms as they get in shape before they don their sparkly, showy, and often skimpy, Carnival costumes.

In search of a bit of calm and neutrality, this introvert took two extroverts along with me for a Saturday afternoon drive through Arima, along the narrow and winding turns through the mountains until we reached the Asa Wright Bird Sanctuary.


The beauty around us was astounding.  Gorgeous flora and fauna, every bit as flamboyant and decorative as any carnival costume, put on a festive display.    Everywhere we looked, we saw panache and color.  We saw, in droves, various types of hummingbirds, honey creepers, kiskadees, antbirds, banana quids, parrots, and manakins.  We even spotted a lone toucan far into the hills.  The flora was just as dramatic and colorful as the birds.  


We sat on the veranda, amongst many very serious and some not so serious birdwatchers, with varying camera lens lengths, watching the show.  We drank tea and apple J and had corn soup and sandwiches.

This, I decided, was a perfect parade for an introvert like me.  I felt like I was already at Carnival.  Was this just enough color and celebration?  Maybe I could skip the real thing.

As I pondered this thought on the verandah, six inches from a hanging hummingbird feeder, I noticed another birdwatcher standing right next to me.  His iphone was poised, ready to click when the next unsuspecting hummingbird came along for a sweet drink of nectar.


I said,  “You’re ready.”  He said, “I’m ready.”  I said, “You’re ready.”

Then we both started singing the non stop Carnival 2013 song Differentology, by Bunji Garlin, which has been playing non-stop in Port of Spain.  (It is actually drifting through the window along with the warm breeze as I write this post).  The lyrics entail the phrase, “I’m ready for the road.”  Right there on the verandah, we both broke out singing, to the  tune of Differentology,  “I’m ready for the bird.”

I might not be ready for Carnival, but I am definitely ready for the bird.  I have been trying to figure out if I will put aside my natural introvert tendencies and join in the carnival festivities, or will I head to a quieter get away.    Without question, I am ready for the bird.  But on the other hand, maybe I am ready for Carnival.  Maybe I can put aside my natural introvert tendencies, get some earplugs and a sequined bikini and join in the festivities, for the sake of absorbing every part of this experience of living in another culture.

Or maybe I’ll just go sit on the verandah and watch the birds.

So here it is, my first movie, called “I’m ready for the birds.”  The subtitle could be “The Introvert’s guide to Carnival.”

4 thoughts on “Sparkly Bikinis and Flamboyant Birds

  1. Thanks from this confirmed introvert, for getting me ready to face a bleak day of report cards, my mind now filled to overflowing with vibrant flowers and birds!

  2. Ellen and Juni, thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures, but more importantly your insights. What better place to call home to return to rediscover that part of you that has been lost, buried, forgotten. ….all the while delighting in the island’s beauty with family and friends…
    Look forward to seeing you when you return…. that is if you ever make it back to frigid New England.

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