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Potts and Pans

Matt's travels in Trinidad and Tobago

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Tue
22
Jun '10

Going Home

My final day in Trinidad.  I woke up early, but still was not able to say goodbye to Kai.  I was working on deflating my bed and putting the sheets in the laundry when I heard their car start.  I ran downstairs to only to see Kai pulling out of the driveway.  So, I had to settle for calling him and saying goodbye over the phone.

After that, I continued to get everything together upstairs.  Around 9:00 am we left to take Mrs. Gormandy to work.  Thankfully I was able to properly say goodbye to Mrs. Gormandy and thank her for being such a gracious hostess.  Mr. Gormandy and I continued on then to the store of one of their friends that is a quite talented painter.  I purchased a couple paintings from him to help support local art and then we were on our way.  When we got back to the house, I finished getting all my stuff together and then we headed off to the airport.

It was kind of surreal saying goodbye to everything on the way to the airport.  The whole way there, my trip kept flashing back to me.  I could see the whole 6 weeks in the blink of an eye, and it was great!  I could also remember traveling this route with Mia and Christina when Mr. Gormandy picked us all up from the airport back on May 10.  Even though it was the middle of the night, I could vividly remember the scenery and was reminded of all of that during this trip back.

I had no issues once at the airport, and the flights were pretty uneventful.  There was one really annoying little girl (maybe 1.5 years) but once I put my headphones on I could basically drown her out.  I had a little bit of a scare at Miami.  I made it through immigration without any problems.  Although the officer asked me a bunch of questions about why I am doing pan, and just couldn’t understand that I just love it.  That really made me think though.  How does one describe their love for something like pan, to somebody on the outside.  To them, any degree in music, unless it’s an education degree, is a waste of time.  They cannot understand that I can’t NOT do pan.  I can’t explain why, I just love this instrument.  I know that I am here to do something with this instrument.  How does one explain this feeling of purpose to somebody sitting at an immigration desk in the airport?  Did he desire to do that?  Did everything ounce of his life push him towards that position?  I simply wanted to answer his question of “why?” with the cliché “if you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand” but I resisted.  Upon leaving his desk, I found that question of “why?” lingering in my head.  I really thought about it while awaiting my luggage to come down the chute, and could not figure out how to explain it.  I simply answered myself “well because I love it” and realized that for most people that is not enough.  Perhaps one of the biggest problems in the modern society is that people do not just do things for themselves.  People do not simply do something because ‘they love it’ enough.  There always has to be an ulterior motive.  But why?  I feel that it also has to do with people not having the courage to stand up for themselves.  It is much easier to do something society accepts than to blaze your own trail and do what one loves.  Nobody asks “why?” when somebody says they’re a doctor.  Nobody says “why?” when somebody says they’re a lawyer.  Nobody even ask “why?” when somebody says they’re a bagger at the grocery store.  This final example proves that it is not simply the implied prestige and wealth associated with the first two professions, it is society’s acceptance of ‘normal’ occupations.  I feel that I could likely write all day about this though, so I must conclude this digression with simply asking ‘why not?’

While back to the story at hand, I was waiting at baggage claim for my two bags to come through.  I was one of the first people there and swear I saw every single bag come down the chute.  I got my backpack without any issue, but soon they said there were no more bags and I hadn’t seen my pan case yet.  I asked somebody and they just told me to go look around some more.  I found somebody else, and they actually helped.  I told them it was about 25″ circle and it probably was the only thing like it.  I told me to wait while he searched.  I ended up coming back about 3 minutes later with the case.  He was even kind enough to get me a cart to put the case and my computer bag on.  He said it wasn’t good for me to carry all that weight – and people say americans are rude and selfish.

After that, I went through the maze of dropping off my backpack and taking my pan case to some separate drop point.  I do not understand why I had to do this, but I did.  I then continued on through security and had no issues making it through.  I continued to my gate and then awaited my flight.  While all this was going on, I was able to call my mother and also my girlfriend, Christina.  It was so nice to be able call them and actually talk to them again.

The flight to Chicago went off without any problems.  I finished reading “The Fountainhead” on the plane.  For those that really know me, you understand why that is such an accomplishment.  Other than that, I just relaxed and stared out the window at the beauty of flying over cities during the night.  I love to see how the lights seem to start in a central area and then spread out, almost like a living organism, and then slowly trickle off into darkness again.  I would really like to get a book of pictures of cities at night from above.  Again though, I digress.

Upon arriving in Chicago, I called my parents and Christina again and proceeded to baggage claim.  When I got down there, I was thrilled to see Christina standing there waiting for me.  I was great to see her smiling face again!  We stood at the baggage carousel together and awaited my backpack and pan case to pass by.  This time, no issues!  We collected my things and started our journey back to DeKalb.  On the way, we stopped by Steak ‘n’ Shake.  Christina insisted on me getting a triple steakburger and a shake – so I did.

By the time we left, it was after midnight and was Christina’s birthday!  I sang her an awful rendition of “happy birthday” while we drove back to her apartment in DeKalb.  When we got there, I let her open her presents, said happy birthday again, and then went to bed.

That was it, I’m in the states!

Matt

PoS

Sitting in airport in Piarco, about 30 minutes from leaving Trinidad

Mon
21
Jun '10

Jimi and Sforzata

Today was my last full day in Trinidad.  I tried to finish tying up some loose ends and feel that I pretty much got them all covered.  I had another meeting with Jimi Phillip today.  We got some important business stuff worked out and I’m glad to say that feel we have started a good relationship.  I also finally got my Sforzata t-shirt.  I called Jocelyn from Chaguanas and said that I was going to take a taxi to Curepe in order to meet her to get the shirt.  She said she had it at her house, and to come on by.  Well, it was there!

During the night, I went to Silver Stars yard for the final time.  I spoke with my friend Franklyn and agreed to bring a DVD to the yard for him.  I watched their rehearsal and took in my last night of pan in Trinidad.  As ready as I am to come home, I will definitely miss sitting in a pan yard at night listening to, or playing, pan.  It was really nice to just sit outside and listen to them rehearse.  I will definitely miss that.

Besides that, I just worked on getting my stuff packed up.  I also cleaned up the apartment.  I think I am pretty much all set for take-off tomorrow.  I still have some last minute things to do, but they are not dire.  Goodbye final Monday, and final night!

Matt

Scrap

This is my new friend, Scrap

Sun
20
Jun '10

Just limin’ with my Trini Family

So I purposely left today completely open.  I did this because it is my last Sunday with my trini family, the Gormandy’s.  I had a great lunch with them, and watched the Brazil Vs. Ivory Coast game intermittently with Kai and Mr. Gormandy.  Other than that, I basically worked on my computer most of the day.  I guess it was nice to just relax for a day with the Gormandy’s, but I couldn’t stop thinking that I should be doing something.  Oh well, goodbye final Sunday.

Matt

Sat
19
Jun '10

Got my pan case!

So I finally got my pan case today, and it’s really nice!  Along with that I got this sweet pan cover to protect the pan while it’s still on the stand.  I think these both have great potential at The Steelpan Store and I’m super excited to be able to bring them home with me!  The case is also assisting me in bringing back other stuff from Trinidad.  I pretty much already have it all packed.  I tried to get my Sforzata shirt again today, and was once again shut down.  I don’t know that I’ll be able to get back out that direction before I leave, so we’ll see if I ever get that shirt.

I am definitely ready to come home.  I still have not gotten used to this “Trini Time” garbage.  I also never want to get used to it.  I think “trini time” is wasteful and disrespectful.  This lack of respect towards time is the main reason that I could never live down here.  I would still like to eventually get a vacation home or something here, but I don’t think I could ever spend more than 2 weeks down here again.  After that 2 week mark, I just start getting real frustrated with the little things in this country.  Maybe if I just come down for a vacation though it would be different.  Goodbye final Saturday.

Matt

case

My new pan case!

Fri
18
Jun '10

Upsetting day, great night

First of all, my day was upsetting mainly due to the US/Slovenia game.  I’m not going to say any more on that.  The other part was that I was unable to go get my pan case and Sforzata shirt again today.  There was something going on with Parliament, so I couldn’t get into town to get a taxi.  Basically, I sat in front of my computer all day until 8:00 pm.

At 8:00, I took the Gormandy’s out to dinner.  This was really nice, and I enjoyed every bit of it.  We went up to Chaguaramas to a restaurant that is part of a marina.  Before we went to the restaurant though, Mr. Gormandy drove around a little to show me the area.  This area was beautiful!  This is definitely where my dad would want to be.  So next time I come down here, for vacation purposes, I need to bring my family and we will likely spend time in Chaguaramas.  Definitely a maritime area; lots of boats, marinas, and shipyards.  Basically, my dad could walk around this area for days just looking at the boats.  The only problem I could see was that there were many more sail boats than power boats.

The restaurant we went to was real nice.  It was inside a marina, and really reminded me of something in the keys.  It was a nice little place, that had a great view (on the water), great food, and great atmosphere with a little live music.  I decided to get a steak and shrimp.  I had some shrimp the other day at a roti shop, and it was awful.  I didn’t want to accept that a place like Trinidad would have terrible shrimp.  I’m glad I got the shrimp, they were great!!  The steak was good too, but a little small.  This was a delicious meal, at a great restaurant, and it felt great to give something back to the Gormandy family for everything they have done for me.  Goodbye final Friday.

Matt

Gormandy Family

Kai, Mrs. Gormandy, Oni, Mr. Gormandy, and me

Thu
17
Jun '10

Mexico won?

That’s right, I entitled today’s blog entry because of the World Cup.  Even though most of you people back at home couldn’t care less, the rest of the world is going crazy right now!!  I cannot believe that Mexico beat France 2-0!!  First goal was skillfully beating the keeper, and the second was a great P.K. by Chicago Fire’s Blanco!!  What a crazy game!

Besides that, I went to Trinidad Music Store’s office again, Sarah’s Pan Cases again, and out to Sforzata’s yard.  At the TMS office is actually where I saw the two Mexico goals.  Also, while at their office, a couple interesting people showed up; a member of 3 Canal and DeFosto.  I expect most of my readers do not know who this is, so I will simply say that a big names in modern Trinidad music and you should look them up!  Both guys were super nice and seem like real cool guys to just lime with.  We, of course, talked about football and the world cup pretty much the whole time.  Besides being real cool, DeFosto is a big guy!  I mean big like somebody that you don’t want to run into in a dark alley.

After that, I went out to Sarah’s Pan Cases.  I was planning on picking up a pan case, but that didn’t quite go as planned.  Being that they have a website that people can place orders through, I assumed that they could accept credit cards.  Wrong!  So now I have to go back tomorrow and basically give her all the TTD I have left (including my winnings from playing with Sforzata) to get this case.

After that failure, I headed down de road to Sforzata’s yard.  I talked with Jocelyn, band treasurer, earlier in the day and she said that she located a Sforzata shirt for me and that I could come get it today.  She said to just call when I got there.  Well, I got there, called, and got no answer.  After waiting for probably 30 minutes, I just walked to her house to see if she was available.  Luckily her husband came out and recognized me and invited me in.  I told him why I was there, and he said that he didn’t think Jocelyn had the shirt yet.  He said she was out and didn’t tell him about any shirt.  He said that they will definitely get me a shirt before I leave though.  I guess I’ll go back out again tomorrow.  Failure two.  After that I just went back to the Gormandy’s and called it a night.  While writing this blog, I spilled a glass of pepsi all over.  Failure three.  That should be it now, right?  I hope so.  Goodbye final Thursday.

Matt

Wed
16
Jun '10

Couple meetings

I met with two people today.  My first meeting was over lunch at Veni Mange and was with a guy that I met through couch surfing.  He is an enthnomusicologist doing research on AIDs and music.  The lunch was good and he seemed like an interesting guy.  He has been down here since October, and this is his second trip.  He is leaving in 7 weeks and is already planning a third one.

My next meeting was with George “Yoyo” Kalicharan.  This guy has been building pan since 1957, and definitely has the knowledge to prove it.  He has also done a lot with teaching kids the art of pan building.  Unfortunately, I got in contact with him too late to really spend any time with him.  It’s funny how I found out about this guy and got in contact with him because of some random guy that I talked to on the street.  It turns out that Yoyo and Cliff are also good friends.  Why doesn’t that surprise me?

I have felt like crap all day, and it’s been kind of tough to not just go to sleep.  My neck is killing me, which in turn has closed up my throat, given me headaches, and made my eyes hurt.  Also, for some weird reason my ankles are really hurting tonight.  I’m just falling apart, but only have 6 more days to make it through.  Goodbye final Wednesday.

Matt

yoyo

Me, Obama, Yoyo (Yoyo did something with Obama and pan - didn't really ask)

Tue
15
Jun '10

Set up some meetings

Today was basically another nothing day.  I talked to Christina, read The Fountainhead, and set up some appointments to see people.  I also went to the grocery store with Mr. Gormandy in order to get my final bit of food and also to get some to bring back home with me.  I think I have been on my computer too much or something, because my neck is really killing me.  This is also giving me a sore throat and a headache.  I have some stuff planned for tomorrow, and almost everybody until I leave, so hopefully my neck will get better.

That was basically it, we are now getting into the lasts.

Matt

Mon
14
Jun '10

Nothing day

So after an eventful last week, I did almost nothing today.  I did go down town and bought some gifts for people back at home though.  Have I mentioned that I love being in a country that appreciates football (soccer)?  While in Independence Square (center of down town Port of Spain), I noticed that there was a crowd over on one side.  I went over to investigate and found something awesome.  There was a giant TV up on the side of a building that was broadcasting the Japan/Cameroon game with sound!!!  As I walked through the square, the eves above me had speakers in them and those were also broadcasting the sounds of the game!  Why can’t that happen back home!?

After getting gifts for a bunch of people, I headed back to the apartment.  I sat around and did some work for about an hour until Christina got back from classes.  We then had lunch together via Skype.  After that, I listened to Paraguay almost beat Italy!  Then I took a nap.

The rest of my day consisted of reading The Fountainhead, eating some awesome food from Mrs. Gormandy, and random work on my computer.  As of now, no plans for tomorrow but hopefully something will come up.

Matt

cup

The crowd watching the game in Independence Square

Sun
13
Jun '10

Day with Cliff and Yuko!

Today was Cliff and Yuko’s last full day here.  Cliff called me in the morning saying that he was on his way to pick me up and that he would be there in 5 minutes.  I wasn’t really sure why, but it was Cliff so I didn’t really ask.  I soon found out that we were going to D’abadie to visit with Liam’s mother and sister.  Mr. Vernon Morancie from Pan Trinbago was also with us and assisted with transportation.  Also, along the way he and Cliff provided Yuko and I some incredible historical information about the area and pan in general.  I wish I could have recorded that because I know I only remember like 5% at best of what they were saying.

Liam’s mother and sister were very nice and I enjoyed meeting them.  After spending about an hour there just talking, and also eating a little, we headed out again.  This time Mr. Morancie took us through Arima and showed Yuko and me some important parts of the city.  Again, I wish I could have recorded what Cliff and Vernon were saying because I only remember like 5% of it.

After that we headed over to Seion Gomez’s house.  It was real nice to meet his parents, sister, wife, and twin boys.  Everybody was super nice!  It was Mr. Gomez’s (Seion’s father) birthday so I got some cake and ice cream out of that visit.  I enjoyed the visit to begin with, but that was just the icing on the cake (sorry, couldn’t resist).

After that, we got some food on our way to Sforzata’s yard for a Pan Jamboree.  Sforzata, Silver Stars, Joylanders, and Exodus were all there.  Trinidad All Stars and Renegades were supposed to be there too, but they cancelled late yesterday.  It was cool to hear and see those bands, and it was also nice to see my friends from Sforzata again.  At the end of the night I said goodbye to everybody and asked them to keep in contact with me.  One girl said that she still wants to have a party before I leave, but when I said that it has to be during the upcoming week she got pretty hesitant.  I’m glad I was able to say goodbye to them, and hopefully I will see them again sometime in the future.

Matt

silver stars

Me, some members of Silver Stars, Cliff Alexis, Edwin Pouchet