The World’s Biggest Party

Absolute craziness. I truly am at a loss for words to describe my last two days of Carnaval in Salvador. However, it's extremely unlike me to be at a loss for words, so let me give it a try.
It's a bit strange for me to start thinking again, because I don't think I've had a non-carnaval thought pass through my head in the last 48 hours. On Thursday night, I went to the Ivete Sangalo (very famous singer here) bloco party. My friends and I waited for nearly two hours for her to arrive, and got some close up pictures as she got on the van. Unfortunately, Evelyn lost her camera during the parade, so I hope mine turn out. The parade started at 6pm, and Ivete's trailer was about 4th or so, so we actually got going at 9 or so. It was craziness from the start. Everyone with an abadá (tshirt) moved into the roped off area around the trucks, which probably stretched for about 400 meters, and took up 90% of the street. Still, we were packed in a huge moving mosh pit, and everyone jumping and shouting and singing. I knew her music, thanks to a dvd and some cd's I listened to, and everyone else seemed to know every word too. What really made the difference was the temperment of the people… It was SO tight, but everyone was there to have a good time, and unlike the mosh pits at home, where some jackass is always starting a fight, this one was good natured. Outside the roped-off area is called the "Pipioca" or "popcorn" which consists of the poorer crowd. It was a little rougher on the outside, and there were quite a few fights, and a number of people being taken away by the police.
On the sides of the street were the "Camarote" which is another pay-to-enter option, where you watch all the parades go by from a safe distance. You can see the stands and verandas in the picture above.
A highlight of the night was when Ivete stopped in front of Oceania, a hotel with a rich Camorote, and started playing "Vertigo" by U2. After a few minutes, we realized that U2 was staying in Oceania, after their concert earlier this week in Sao Paulo… and Ivete and Bono sang back and forth for a few songs. Gilberto Gil was there too, and also chimed in (he's one of the nation's most popular singers, … oh, and the Minister of Education). It was amazing… the best party I've been to, and U2 dropped in as well. The parade lasted for hours, and everyone was drinking and going wild the entire time…. there wasn't really the wax and wane of normal concerts. I was shielding Marcie and Evelyn from the herds of guys attempting to kiss them (no one asks questions, or listens to turn downs…). I all of a sudden became everyone's boyfriend of the moment, as it was the only excuse that worked. Sometimes I denied it, just to add some excitement. I also stopped a few times to make some balloons for some of the kids in the Pipioca.
Ivete's parade lasted until about 2:30am, at which point Evelyn and Marcie escaped to their hotel at the end of the route, and I had to make the 3+ miles trek back home, fighting the crowds of pipoca. Scary at first, but I got used to it. I have started to realize that with my build and skin color, other people are probably more scared of me than I am of them. You just have to keep an eye out to make sure you don't get caught inthe middle of a fight by mistake. Oh, and never look like you're lost, and always walk with confidence.
Yesterday, I tried to find a abadá for the bloco party my friends were going to, but was unsuccessful. However, the night was anything but lost. I pre-partied in the apartment, then joined the pipoca, dancing and going crazy on the other side of the rope. I finally stopped and made some balloon animals, which turned into a zoo, as usual, and I continued until I was out of balloons and my cheeks hurt. The kids were ecstatic, and I was invited back off the street to play around with them for a while. What started out as a silly hobby has really turned into an amazing asset when I'm traveling.
I was coming home, when I encountered Gilberto Gil's bloco, which is always free, so I joined that for a few hours… I finally made it home around midnight, and one of my friends was angry because everyone came home so early. (Their bloco started first, so went from 6-12pm) So a few of us washed up and then went out again. After much craziness we came home at around 4, and today I've been trying to nurse myself back to health.
I've also been told that the REAL carnaval starts today, Saturday,… so I bought another abadá for the bloco "Cocobambu", and everyone from my apartment is going. In fact… my açai is done, and it's about time to get ready…


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