Considering how much I love to travel, I think today’s guest blogger and I must have been separated at birth! Please welcome Michelle Monkou, whose book, Carnival Temptress is part of The Revelers Series with Marcia King-Gamble. Coming in March! (And a giveaway, too — keep reading!)
Let me confess…travel documentaries, romance books with exotic settings, and reading about a country’s history are my favorite past times. You see, I love to travel. From the age of three, I’d left my birthplace of London, England and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Guyana, South America. I say that was when the travel bug bit and I have been under the influence, ever since.
While I’ve made it a rule to travel, as much as possible, and as long as the budget allows, sometimes, I have to enjoy the beauty of new locales through the Travel Channel. The Caribbean has been one such place that has held a special allure for me. Each island has its history and mystique that make it different from all the others. Along with the weather, cuisine, natural beauty, the Caribbean also has traditional celebrations—Carnival—that give a signature flare.
Carnival has a long history that goes beyond the wild revelry of music and dancing in the streets. The islands of Trinidad and Tobago produce one of the largest Carnivals annually. The tradition dates back to the late 1700s with influence from the French, they do know how to party LOL. The Africans participated after the passing of the Emancipation Bill in 1834 with massive street celebrations.
Calypso music was the backbone of these festivities. In contemporary times, the musical genre, marked by drums and the steel pans, allows for wit, satire, and innuendo to be expressed without repercussion. Different flavors have been added to the Calypso beats reflected by the multi-ethnic population that came to the islands, as early as the 1800s as indentured servants. Now a hybrid of Calypso, called Soca, has emerged that has a more upbeat tempo. Each year, contests for the best Soca band are all part of the fun.
Spectacular costumes of beads, sequins, and feathers are a natural part of the celebration. Slaves were known to copy in their own style the lavish costume balls of their French owners. As a result, characters of the fete were created, many still in play in the modern Carnival. Once the parade begins, each band is led by a king and queen in the over-sized, large costumes. Physical stamina is definitely part of this job since the big contraptions require extensions and wheels to carry it through the streets.
Each Caribbean island has its own calendar schedule. In Trinidad and Tobago, the schedule is based on the pre-Lenten schedule on Monday and Tuesday, ending in the early hours of Ash Wednesday.
Can you tell that I absolutely love the Caribbean? What exotic (or simply romantic) location tickles your fancy? And until you get there, how do you satisfy that craving: documentaries, movies, romance books, etc. Please share, I’d love to hear your travel dreams.
Michelle Monkou recently celebrated ten years (Nov. ’02 – ’12) of writing romances and looks forward to many, many more years to come. She writes contemporary romances with Harlequin Kimani Romance (December release of Racing Hearts) and publishes her earlier titles (Secrets, Scandal & Seduction AND Finders Keepers), alongside new stories all in e-book format for Kindle and Nook. Michelle’s latest release, Carnival Temptress, is Book 1 in The Revelers series. The series is a collaborative effort with Marcia King-Gamble of sexy, saucy romantic tales in Carnival-themed settings. For further information, please check her website; her Twitter; her Author Facebook Page.
Thanks so much to Michelle for coming by! And also for generously offering to give away two book to two lucky commenters randomly selected. So be sure to drop her a line below!
Congratulations to Shelia Goss and Beverly Jackson for winning the contest!
Since the love of my life passed away, any moment I could have back with him would be romantic. We never got the chance to travel, but always dreamed of traveling to beautiful islands, or old European cities. I love to watch old movies or romantic, love stories; or read great romances and picture us in the scenes.
That is so incredibly beautiful. I think it is quite appropriate to envision you and your love in those places and settings. It makes it all the more special.
I too love travel and the Caribbean. And when I saw Trinidad and Tobago mentioned, I had to chime in! When I lived in Trinidad, I played ‘mas religiously, but the absolute best of Carnival for me was J’ouvert – jumping up behind a steel band at 4:00 in the morning, oil and mud ‘mas, my husband in a burlap bag with Viking horns and two long blonde braids – it was wonderful. Sweet T& T Carnival – the greatest show on earth!
I have got to do T&T Carnival one of these days. As I child, I remember Guyana’s Mashramani. Always hated the guys on stilts–scared me. And there was a character called Mother Sally that was someone on stilts dressed in an old woman’s garb – nightmares!!! But my last one as an onlooker was Canada’s Caribana.
I love the Caribbeans. If I could, I would visit the Cayman Islands and Paradise Island, Bahamas every year. When I want to remember those trips, I’ll pull out my pictures or just sit back and close my eyes and remember the good times I had there. The ocean to me is so relaxing. I usually go to the lake to relax now.
Awww shucks, you’re making me want to get on the Internet to book flight and hotel LOL. I’ve been to the Bahamas, but not to the Cayman. My friend got married on Grand Cayman. The pictures were absolutely beautiful and romantce novel-worthy.
I too love to travel. A goal I made long time ago was to visit all of the Caribbean island countries and so over the years have been working on achieving that goal. You are so right each island has its own unique flavor and so you know I am really looking forward to The Revelers Series. And yes I love all the travel shows on TV and last night for the first time I saw Grannies On Safari and fell in love with Zanzibar.
I love the title – Grannies on Safari. LOL. People tend to lump all the islands together with one identifying brush, but each island holds on to their separate histories, customs and celebrations with fierce nationalistic pride. So many places to visit and so little time.
Michelle, thanks so much for guest blogging today! I would love to experience Carnival in person … so far, it’s only been a movie experience, LOL!
Thanks for having me, Julie. There are several states in the U.S. who now have Carnivals and Canada also has a big one, annually. But nothing beats the original settings.
I simply love traveling exploring the world. I dont get to do that much anymore sense becoming a mom with a child with special needs, I will one day go to the places I have always dreamed of going that Egypt…my mother is from Trinidad and Tobago I have been their once when i was younger but i would love to go back, i want to experience carnival. until than i will read books with different island themes that makes me feel like i am right there..
Sharon, you are such an inspiration. I love books that can transport to the places where I can see, smell, and hear the location’s beauty as if I was there. I also want to see Egypt.
Nice post. The Caribbean sounds fun.
Thank you. The Caribbean has a lot to offer. It can be a quiet, eco-focus trip admiring the caves, waterfalls, etc. It can be a sun worshippers dream of relaxing at the various beaches. It can be all night party moment, where you party at night and sleep the day away. I try to mix a little of everything in there when I hit Barbados.
I have the travel bug and I hope there is never a cure! My list of romantic places that I’ve enjoyed starts with my #1 vacation choice…the city of lights and love…Paris! There is a NYE celebration that rocks on the Champs-Elysées. My other fav places include San Juan, Puerto Rico; Barcelona, St. Thomas, VI; St. Croix, Jamaica (particularly Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay), and other parts of France. When I am not able to visit, my personal photos, blog or journal notes and conversations with those I’ve traveled with are my escape. A good book also does the trick.
In the U.S. I would suggest the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn, NY during Labor Day weekend! The stories I could tell…but then I’d have to kill you! LOL. Mardi Gras in New Orleans, of course. Then there is Caribana in Toronto (there is still time to go in August this year) but I’ll be in Montreal in July so I’ll miss it.
I have added Italy to my list and am currently making plans. My bestfriend is from Belize and we may visit this fall or next spring but all this talk makes me want to go now.
I could really go on and on, but now I’m getting a fever. I told my doctor at my last visit, that I wasn’t well. She asked what was wrong. I said “I don’t have jet lag.” She laughed so hard, but then realized I wasn’t laughing with her. I was dead serious! I do not joke about my need to get away.
I need to pull out some photos this weekend…and then check my bank account. My passport is always ready.
Great blog Michelle and Julie!
Thanks, Shantal. I have certainly slowed down with my traveling…boo. I swear that’s why I’m stressed. LOL. I went to Milan a couple years ago, loved it. I would love to go back.