The week running up to Lent is when Brazil really lets its hair down – this is “Carnaval” week. The most internationally famous carnival celebration in Brazil is in Rio de Janeiro, and footage of the incredible costumes and parades makes it onto TV the world around. But carnival is definitely not just celebrated in Rio. It is a country-wide celebration of music, dance and life itself.
Having done several carnivals in Rio previously, Pete was keen to show everyone a different type of carnival, so we headed to Salvador de Bahia where carnival is definitely a participatory event! Every day from around 2pm, the crowds wandering down to the parade routes started at a trickle which soon became a sea of people, many dressed in “abadas”, t-shirts that identify them as part of a “bloco”. A bloco is effectively a roped-off area around a 3-storey semi-trailer / articulated truck with impossibly large speakers blasting out the music from the singers and drummers performing on the top level. The truck then moves at a snails pace along the parade route for about 3-5 hours while those inside the bloco as well as those outside the bloco (who are called “pipoca” meaning popcorn) sing and dance and generally make merry. Along the way there is a constant supply of water, beer and other drinks available from an endless number of vendors – seemingly everyone in Salvador goes out and buys a polystyrene esky / cool box and sets up a stall along the parade route or in the surrounding streets. It is a crazy, noisy, busy, hot, sweaty, incredible experience and we had a blast!
Bob Sinclar Bloco – the international DJ was a popular option on Friday night!
Oludum Drums Bloco – the most famous of Salvador’s drumming bands, Oludum has performed with Michael Jackson and Paul Simon.
There’s always something going on on the streets around Pelourinho during Carnaval.