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Carnival Season is upon us once again, as those committed to the Lifestyle of Fetin (LOF) prepare for the three annual purges: Bank Account, Body, and Bedtime (We nah sleep). However this year was going to be different and not different in a good way. The Coronavirus AKA COVID19 spread travel concerns all over the globe. Those committed to the Carnival 365 lifestyle watched anxiously to see if the Chieftans of the unofficial start of the season would make any adjustments to the schedule. Trinidad & Tobago began the year with an announcement from its Heath Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, who issued a temporary ban on all travel from or transitioning through mainland China. TT Nationals & permanent residents traveling from China were not permitted to enter the country for 14 days, which is the incubation period of the disease.

There was no plan to cancel the Carnival event, that brought in on average (US) 100 million 77,519,380 (GBP) each year. The TT government assured their citizens, and those who would travel to their region, that they were taking the utmost precautions and were prepared as a country, to handle the virus if it reached their shores. Even a last minute concern about a possible case was struck down by the health authorities on February 24. Carnival would go on as scheduled.

The annual event went off without a concern of the virus, as revelers with bragging rights sent their pictures & videos to all of those who could not be there for the launch of the season!

So what now?

Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Dominica are just a few of the islands along with Trinidad and Tobago that have instituted some sort of travel ban and precautionary procedures in the past few weeks. The Dominican Republic & Haiti both prevented Chinese visitors on a private plane from landing, St Lucia turned away a cruise ship with 14 sick passengers and Jamaica denied entry to yet another cruise ship after their health officials found a sick crew member.

Many states in the US are on lockdown and quite a few countries have literally closed their borders in hopes of keeping the scourge at bay.

So what is this virus?

The WHO (World Health Organization) describes the virus in this way: “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.”

These viruses are transmitted between animals and people. The common signs of the virus are: fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

The things mom & granny always told us ring true – WASH YOUR DUTTY HANDS, COVER YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU SNEEZE and COUGH. These things should not be new to any of us, but for those of us who travel or just leave our house, we are often disgusted by the lack of basic hygiene of our fellow humans.

I once worked in an office and on those rare occasions when I was in a bathroom at the same time with

  • particular co-worker, I would observe her leave the stall, fluff her hair and walk out. I know. Yuck. One day when my disgust had reached its zenith. I stopped her before leaving and said “Don’t you need to wash your hands?” She replies, “God, it’s not like we work in food service.” To which I replied in horror,

 

“Touching your genitals, not washing, then touching the printer, copier, door knob or God knows what else, or just being around people after that, is too damn familiar and disgusting.”

She washed her hands.

One of the many reasons I never ate “break room” food left on tables.

The greater point being, that we can only control ourselves and our family. We can’t lock ourselves in our homes or bubble wrap our kids. Life goes on and to live in fear is not a way to live at all. One person recently said to me, “I don’t know how you can Cruise, with all those people in one place.” To which I replied “And flying breathing in reconstituted air is better?”

As a side note, I was recently on a cruise at the buffet and someone made a plate, picked up a piece of food from their plate, licked their fingers THEN picked up another serving spoon, with the saliva/food licked hand.

I almost screamed. I did alert the staff to change the spoon so there’s that.

But it is now a habit for me to wash before I go to the buffet on a cruise and was my hands AGAIN after serving myself. (Hell, I should just get latex gloves, but then I would probably look crazy, but I digress)

There are pros and cons to every mode of travel - if you do travel. I cruise and Fly – I also take the train. Germs are everywhere, and my Black Girl Magic will not allow me to dim my light by sealing myself off in a cabin away from the world forever.

That wouldn’t work.

So here we are.

The grim reality is that people are getting sick and many are dying. Carnival in 2020 just doesn’t seem as important as saving lives. There is also an important truth to canceling our fun and festivities, there are people who will lose their job, many who have already invested in the 2020 season who will not be paid. In addition to the tragedy of the illness, there is a financial toll.

The goal is to stay well now and focus on saving lives, businesses, sanity and Carnival 2021.

In the meantime, we can continue our virtual fetes. We can teach the next generation about our culture, we can learn about each other. We can donate, we can share what we have. We can use common sense. The feeling and beauty of celebrating our culture at Carnival is more than a party, it is a state of mind. It is the desire to connect with your brothers and sisters.

It is a boundless energy, an igniting force that triggers this annual need to just let go.

To that end, the feeling is still alive, even though the celebration for now, is put on hold.

I hope to see you soon, well rested and healthy on the road.

 

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