Jamaica Carnival 2018: Xaymaca International Review

First of all, just mark your calendars for Jamaica Carnival 2019: April 28, 2019!

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Those who have been following the growth trends of Jamaica Carnival over the past few years knew that this year was going to be a big one. We were right; in fact, the sheer number of people who traveled to Jamaica this year and played mas was far more than even I expected. I was blown away, and I can't wait to see the future growth of Carnival in Jamaica.

After the feting was the road! I played with Xaymaca International, and for a band only in its second year, I had an AMAZING AND SMOOTH time! Here's my review from start to finish.

PRE-CARNIVAL

Band Launch: Xaymaca changed the Jamaica Carnival game when they announced their launch for November, two months earlier than the usual time. Their LUXE theme came through in all of their costumes with beautiful and risque designs, adorned with lots of jewels and pearls. Shine on, sis.

Registration: Xaymaca gave us the option to pre-register and pay half of the registration deposit amount in advance of the launch. Because I wanted to secure my top choice, I made the pre-registration deposit with a quickness.

I haven't ever been so indecisive about choosing a costume before. I kept going back and forth and asked each and every one of my friends for their opinions multiple times. The Luxor section just kept pulling me in closer and closer so I listened to my gut. Luckily, I was able to register in person at the mas camp (to avoid the fees), but anyone could easily complete registration online through the Xaymaca website. 

Communication: Xaymaca made themselves readily accessible and communicated thoroughly with their customers. You could reach them through traditional methods (email and telephone), but I could also get my questions answered through Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp. Whatsapp was my favorite mode of communication because response was almost immediate.

DURING CARNIVAL

Costume Pickup: I thought by going in on the very last day of pickup, it was going to be a madhouse and I had already mentally prepared myself for the wait, especially since I was picking up 5 costumes. However, I checked in and before I knew it, I was getting my receipts printed and being served in the large conference room. I have never had such an easy pickup before. I was in and out in 30 minutes or less.

The representative serving us was so sweet, patient and kind! We had a slight issue with one of the costume panties and the designer came over to us herself to address the issue and was quick to give us the alternative options. We couldn't have been happier.  I did not get a chance to check them out, but I heard that there was a changing room in the back to try on your costumes to ensure the right fit. Kudos to Xaymaca International for that!

The gold costume boxes were definitely luxurious and the swag totes were cute! The swag itself differed per bag so it was a little disappointing to see that some people got "nicer" items than you, but we still appreciated the token gifts. 

Costume: My costume was GORGEOUS! The pictures did not do it justice whatsoever. The beading, the gems, the detail - just so exquisite! When the Xaymaca rep opened up my box for me to inspect my costume, I could not hold back my whimpers of joy! I chose well.

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THE ROAD EXPERIENCE

I will rate the Xaymaca road experience a solid 8.5/10!

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We arrived on the road around 11am (missing breakfast) and the morning jump up was perfection. I saw some familiar faces, I got my pictures taken, I filled my cup with Henny and the bouncing start! The DJs really made sure the energy was consistent and there was plenty of room to dance and wine on the ground. In general, the DJs played a diverse range of music - they actually played more than 2018 soca hits, venturing into some older tracks and other music genres. You all know I love dancehall and we are in Jamaica, so the little dancehall they played got the crowd wild - I have never Lebeh Lebeh'd and Genna Bounce'd so much in my life! They also played a decent amount of afrobeats which made my crew - mostly Africans - lit even more!

The lunch stop was excellent. There was an array of food options and the lines were organized. I grabbed my curry goat and took a seat under the large tents with giant ACs stationed in various corners. There was an indoor space as well that I only got a chance to explore right at the end. It was a room full of mirrors for those who wanted to preen. Stationed there were the masseuses, makeup glam squad and a charging station. I did not have time for a massage but I definitely took advantage of the makeup touch up.

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Back on the road, this is where the experience lost a full point. I was mashed up like a sardine in a can. And with these frontline wings, it nah go work! I spent a lot of time on the outside of the ropes to try to escape the congestion, but at some point, it just didn't matter, you were just stuck until the road opened up again. There was no space to even stretch your hands, much less try to catch a wine or two. Stormers can ruin the vibe, so I would advise Xaymaca International to be even more strict about their security expectations. More trucks would have also helped with crowd control.

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Dinner was also a bit disappointing for me - I had been so looking forward to a KFC box but alas, they ran out before I could grab one. Even my quest to look for other options was futile because there didn't seem to be enough food for the dinner crowd. Perhaps they did not assume everyone would complete the route? Luckily, a friend of mine was able to grab a pizza box and I had a slice.

POST-CARNIVAL

Overall I had a fabulous time! When (not if) I go back to Jamaica next year, Xaymaca will be top of mind as the band to play mas with. There are a couple of things they need to fine tune but I had fun fun fun. 

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Oh, and I need to add: my costume came out on the other end still as perfect as the day it was picked up. Quality, ladies! I am already looking forward to band launch later this year.

Did you go to Jamaica Carnival? Did you play with Xaymaca? What was your experience?

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- Your favorite FestiHopper -

Sandra