Monday, March 06, 2006

Carnaval de Salvador

Wow, what a party this thing is. About three million people from all over Brazil and the rest of the world lining three streets in Salvador. I swear two out of those three million had to be on the Barra route the nights I went. After going two nights in a row from about 8PM until 5AM each night (one of those nights on the Camarote), I have skipped out on the last two nights. It’s really hectic with all of the people. Thursday night (first night of Carnaval), a guy was really drunk at the end and was kicking cars and windows and just being stupid. It made me kind of nervous to be near the guy because I never know when someone will be me and think “hey let me go mess around with the big guy over there” just because they’ve been drinking for nine straight hours.
Anyway, Carnaval is all about having fun, drinking, partying, and basically trying to get in a year’s worth of sin in within one week. I think that about 65% of people here might actually accomplish that task. I definitely had a good time the two nights even though I have come to learn I’m not the biggest fan of axé music (axé is Yoruba for “energy”). I think where I went wrong with Carnaval was enjoying it in huge chunks and doses rather than small amounts at a time.
Carnaval, outside of Thursday, lasts from 11AM until 5AM in Salvador. I should have broken my time up into pieces and gone to different parts instead of two nine-hour nights. There’s a ton of dancing in the streets, incredibly loud music, lots of food and beer and an overall good time. Picture your average Super Bowl party with 10 people and a few six packs and chicken wings. Now multiply the people times 300,000 and the food and the beer times maybe 10 million (no, I’m not exaggerating). It’s definitely hard to imagine. Being with someone like Mariangelica the whole time definitely made the times it died down a lot funnier and more fun. At the Camarote we danced a lot, talked a lot about life and made fun of plenty of people (only joking of course!)
I’m trying to think of more stuff to write about Carnaval, but it’s a lot like Foz do Iguaçu; words can’t really describe it, and unlike so many other things, not even pictures can really accurately display how huge Carnaval is. You really just have to be there to see how big and colorful and festive and cultural it is.
Another thing about Carnaval is that I will be spending the last day and night in Recife. They have a big Carnaval, too (around one million people instead of three). I will probably spend it out on the street enjoying the music and dancing, especially because I have skipped out on the past few days of Carnaval. The Carnaval here is really extreme, especially for someone as old as me. Most of the students know this already, but I wanted to spend these two weeks in either Natal, where there is no Carnaval at all, or in Recife by myself. I just mostly wanted to get out on my own and be by myself. They talked me into coming to Salvador though, and it may have been the better, and definitely the cheaper, choice.
I learned that Bono and the rest of U2 was in Salvador for Carnaval. They were with Gilberto Gil (Minister of Culture in the Brazilian Government) watching Bloco 2222 with Daniella Mercury (more axé) playing. I figured that’s why they came to São Paulo on the 20th and 21st; so they could go to Carnaval. I just figured they Carnaval they’d go to would be in Rio. Bono is probably friends with Gilberto Gil and he probably told them they had to come to Salvador. I wonder if Bono will do something to help the poverty here in Bahia now that he has witnessed how bad things are here.
(I learned recently that the band donated a guitar to be auctioned off, of which all the money would go towards aiding the poor in Salvador. They will also be donating money and attempting to get aid for the people here. So that’s definitely awesome of them.)
Last entry about Carnaval. I guess sometimes a Murphy’s Law type situation does come up. I had taken my camera out twice but didn’t take many pictures because I didn’t want it to be stolen. Taking it at all was risky enough, especially since on the very first night Mariangelica’s had been stolen. Anyway, on the best day of Carnaval (Monday Feb. 27th, I went to a spot in Campo Grande and Garcia that was basically one huge bloco. There were no ropes, very few military police watching the scene, no huge trio-eletricos; just bands playing on small trucks with good enough sound systems. This is the area where all the intellectuals were hanging out I think. Lots of students, professors, families, etc, and a whole bunch of protestors marching against some local corruption and federal practices, etc. Definitely was enjoying seeing the freedom of expression being carried out.
Anyway, to me the music that was being played sounded much more African-influenced than axé music. I was definitely enjoying that. I think I got a little Bahiano in me during Carnaval because anytime I would hear some good beats or some singing, I would start to dance a little bit wherever I was at. I saw some crazy blocos and some even crazier costumes, and I even saw a few street bands playing when we went back through the Pelourinho. I bought two Olodum shirts and one other shirt for my little cousin, and I also bought a few key chains to add to my worldwide collection. Either way, I wish I would have taken my camera, because it would have been totally safe and I would have definitely gotten some awesome shots. Oh well, no big deal. I have a Nova Schin lata de cerveja that says it’s a cerveja official do carnaval de Salvador 2006 and plenty of other pictures as my proof of being there when I’m 65 and everyone’s all “yah right Zack you old bastard you didn’t go anywhere.” I will slap those people. I hung out with Mariangelica on my last night there since I won’t be seeing her again until the end of the semester. We went to McDonalds for a good taste of Americana and damn was it disappointing. Definitely not the goodness we were hoping for. It was fun though and I’ll definitely miss hanging out with her in Curitiba.


Here are the pictures I took. Again, there aren't many because I didn't want to risk anymore than I had to my camera getting stolen. I did want to get pictures for the blog though, so here they are. What I would do is take my camera out, take the picture quickly, then put it back up. I didn't really think any of these were worth high-res status so I am posting them like this. If anyone needs high-res shots, let me know somehow and you'll get them posted.

These first five are from the third day of Carnaval from the Camarote. I got better shots here than i did on the street, mostly because there was security here. Also I took a quick video that I added my little film I'm making in iMovie. I'm adding all the little videos I record to the movie, even if they really have nothing to do with Brazil the country. Just part of the experience. It will probably end up being about 25-30 minutes long since most of the clips are short, but you never know, I could have an hour of stuff.




Some axé band, I can't remember their name unless it's Afrodesiac or however it's spelled up there. These guys were okay, but I'm not a big fan of axé music.

These women were actually naked, just body-painted. It was my duty to take pictures.

Took this shot on top of a high hill looking over the Barra route of Carnaval. This is the biggest route and it's only about 4Km (not sure how much that is in American distance.)

These next few are of Ivete Sangalo, a Bahiana who is "Brazil's biggest samba performer". I didn't think she was all that great. Except in the next picture. BTW this is about to say "Um Mega Beijo" which just means "One Huge Kiss".


 This one is just looking over the whole parade from the sidewalk. Soon enough we were in the streets and dancing along, although after 8 hours it gets tiring and you have to kind of pull over.

That's all I took, sorry to disappoint, but I did my best. There's always next year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... has some pictures of them at Carnaval.