Hello WST and Pan on the Net community!
Six years ago, I fell in love with pan. Since then I have dedicated myself to growing as a panist and learning everything I can about the history and culture of Trinidad and Tobago and the steelband movement. I graduated from college last May, and have since founded the Indiana Steel Pan Association to serve and support the pan community in my state. I got a job working nights so I would have time to play five nights a week, in two different steelbands (in two different cities). I teach pan (as a volunteer) two days a week at a community center for students in a particularly rough side of my city. I've read all the books and articles that I can get my hands on, I'm building my record collections... I am, without a doubt and with all the pride in the world, a huge geek for pan, the steelband and Trinidad. Many people use the motto "Pan for Life" - right now mine is Life for Pan!
I'm telling you this because I have just booked the flights for my very first trip to Trinidad to play with Starlift in this year's Panorama. For a guy who has never seen a steelband larger that 40-50 people, for someone who's studied so hard but never experienced Trinidad first hand, and for someone who dreams of studying at NIU's grad program under Liam and Cliff Alexis, this trip is a dream come true! The only problem is that I will be there for two months and I know basically nobody in the whole country. I have a place to stay, but it is much farther from Port of Spain than I would like, and I have no good way of getting from there to a taxi route (much less from the taxi route to Starlift's panyard. Right now, I basically only have an airline ticket... I am hoping that my enthusiasm, politeness, positive attitude and love for pan will be enough to get me some friends when I get there.
The reason I am posting this is to appeal to the online pan community for help with finding people that could potentially show me around a little, people to contact at various panyards so I can find good times to visit, etc. I would love it if anyone could suggest places and things to see, people to try and meet, food to eat, safety, travel, and especially other options for places to stay. I do not have a lot of money, but if anyone can help me get around and to experience the most I can while I'm there, I'll gladly repay the kindness the best I can (I'm OK with doing house chorse, manual labor, errands, etc if that helps...)
If anyone can help, or if anyone is willing to befriend me when I get there, I would really appreciate it! You can reach me through this discussion or via my email at email@example.com. Thanks so much everyone, and hopefully I will meet some of you in Trinidad!