Last days of Carnaval in Salvador

Saturday night I went to another bloco party, that lasted for a long time, and ended up with an additional 3km hike to find an unoccupied cab. We arrived home exhausted and happy… a state that was getting very familiar. The bloco was for Cocobambu, and I managed to snag a last minute deal on my abada for R$180. To be honest, I don't remember much specifically about the band… but the music was familiar, and we danced for hours on end. Many of the same songs are played in all the blocos (new songs each year, and almost all of axe music.) By Saturday, I knew most of the lyrics, (or more accurately, the sounds), and now that I'm back in Rio… hearing them is already nostalgic. The first attempted robbery occurred Saturday night… and to the largest (6'1" 240lbs?) member of our group. He was alone, outside the bloco, after accompanying some girls in the group to the bathrooms… someone cut him slightly on his left arm with an knife, and while he was distracted by this they cut his shorts twice, ripped the entire pocket out, and took off. (Luckly, we all carry our valuables in pouches in front, behind the beltbuckle.) Here is the result:

Sunday I woke up late, and went to find my friends who had just left for the paderia (bakery) for breakfast. I realized upon returning to the apartment, that the bloco for Sunday (at least the one my friends were attending) was in a different part of town. This was incredulous to me because it meant that the same madness I'd experienced with over a million people during the previous three days was happening in multiple locations around the city of Salvador. In fact, I later learned that the bloco for Sunday was Copo Grande, which was original: both bigger and longer! It started early, around 3 (no recovery time as I'd slept at 5 and woken at 11), and instead of 4 hours, it went on for 6, which meant we didn't get home until nearly midnight. Insane.
It's really tough to describe Carnaval, but last night after getting home from my last bloco I started to get that feeling you get when you are at the end of a great vacation. I know that I will return to Salvador at some point, but with the situation I was in, the atmosphere, the blocos, my 15 new friends in a small apartment… some things will be hard to repeat.

Two other things of note:

  • Sunday morning, I didn't find my friends for breakfast, but met another group of girls while waiting for my food, who invited me to join them, and later invited me to visit them in Sao Paulo. Later that day, I met some sisters during the bloco, who stayed with the group and invited me to visit them in Port Alegre. Meeting people in Brazil is exceptionally easy… I am constantly amazed. People are so quick to invite you to join them, doing whatever. I wish hospitality was like this in the US. My new friends from the apartment have invited me to go out with them in Rio (all live there or in Niteroi), and to use vacation houses in other parts of Brazil.
  • After getting back last night, I went out again, this time alone, to see some of the late night blocos. At 2am, some were just getting started, and I realized that there were many more than I had initially realized, and there were also many more variants in terms of pricing. The ones I saw late last night were much cheaper, which was evident from appearence of the people who had abadas and were inside the ropes. There seemed to be a gradation of blocos, and you buy the one you can afford, and therefore party with people in your socioeconomic class. The cheapest of course is to faz pipoca, which is to stay outside the bloco for free. I initially thought this to be a bit separatist… but then life is like that right? We buy houses in neighborhoods where we can afford them, and live amongst people in our socioeconomic class. The contrast was quite apparent in this situation though. The people on top of the trioelectricas (moving trucks with bands) were throwing free bandanas to the camorote who were watching from the rich hotels lining the street. If someone didn't catch it, it fell into the pipoca, where people were grabbing for what seemed like the scraps.

First set of Carnaval Pictures…


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