Solo in Sao Paulo

Trip Start Jul 06, 2005
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Trip End Mar 10, 2006


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Saturday, March 4, 2006

Well amigos, I suspect this will be my final entry from the road, although Iīll hit you with a proper wrap-up on everything once Iīm home. For now, just an update on ripping it up at (surviving???) Carnaval and the aftermath.

Carnaval

Insanity. Abolute, unbridled madness. For 5-7 days, depends who you ask and where you were, this city just lost its mind and threw the biggest no holds barred fiesta on the face of the planet; people in crazy costumes everywhere, water guns, spray foam, everything decorated, EVERYBODY drinking, performances and street art all over the place. We were front and centre and I can assure you are still not recovered several days later!

Rockinī the Bloco - Olodum

Salvador Carnaval is split into several routes. Our neighborhood was used by all the traditional African drum blocos pretty constantly, meaning a free show from our window or side streets, and a constant rumble of drums to keep the energy up. Two other major routes were essentially used by massive trucks with crazy loud sound systems - on top you find all the biggest music (pop mostly) stars in Brazil right now. Surrounding them are dozens-hundreds of people holding a rope and security policing who gets inside to follow freely and party like crazy without being bashed around in the wild crowd outside.

We ended up joining the Olodum bloco, which meant for about $70 US we got to get inside the ropes and follow their band/drummers as they paraded around the city. Itīs impossible to describe, but there are seriously over 2 million people in the streets and its damn near impossible, and occasionally dangerous to try to follow a group from outside their ropes. They provide security, a mobile bathroom and drinks truck, and a big ol' party.

To add to the fun, if you pay to get in you get a t-shirt identifying you as with the "in" crowd - or in our case a whole crazy-ass outfit. Massive shorts, big shirt, a hat, and a sash - all in white decorated with the red, green, and yellow colours of African pride! First night they left really late, but went off with about 110 drummers at 2 AM with a body pounding rhythm that Iīve never seen/felt anything like, lasted until 6 AM. Second night they ditched the full drum group and it was more of an all out dance party with just their singers and band on top of the massive bloco music truck and thousands of us dancing along with it for another 6 hours, this time in the afternoon.

Popcorn

So called because if you donīt join a bloco you just bash around in the crowd trying to follow, or just watch them pass, from the outside. This can be fun too, if you have the energy - we did it on our off days from the bloco (only went 2 of 5 nights with Olodum). It involves a constant barrage of hands in your pockets as we each got pickpocketed about 50 times a night (most had SOMETHING stolen, but we were smart enough not to carry much we didnīt have to). It also involves keeping your head up for the inevitable fights in the crowd or just random assaults.

These kids fake fight/dance through the crowd constantly, mostly along the ropes, and eventually someone just lets go and theyīre off. I got punched in the jaw once, and everyone else in our crew was hit at least once if not more on different nights. That said its still a lot of fun; its free, you CAN find safer places to stand, and for the most part you come out unscathed. Half the crew followed fatboy slim like this on the last night, didnīt make it but sounded awesome.

And then it was over

The rest of the week was a blur of our own little side parties, very late nights, and WAY too much fun. Rounded up our time there with a great party on our street for ANOTHER local holiday the day after Carnaval. Danced our arses off until the wee hours with the locals and everyone just had a wicked time. Perfect end to an amazing time, and essentially the end to our groups time together.

I have to tell you, I was not prepared at all for how HARD it was going to be to say goodbye to these kids.

Mark was first off in the morning, and neither of us slept after the party before I sent him off at the station at 6:30 AM. Strange, Iīve spent EVERY DAY for 8 months with the kid, and thats it...gone until London. It was unreal amigo, couldn't have had a better companion and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Roya was next off, and this time with Simon and Tyler in tow we took her off to the airport. So sad, again, to see one of my new very favourite people on the planet head off back to London. I know you touched all of our hearts and Iīm sure we come out of it as better people for the experience.

So yeah, by hear I was getting pretty down... The rest of the crew however, had my back. As I prepared to leave to find my 36 hour bus to Sao Paulo, pretty down and out, it seemed that EVERYONE was going to come with me! How cool is that, and how very much in the character of this incredible group.

Simon, we go way back to the beginnings of this trip and canīt tell you how lucky I feel that things worked out to have you with us for the end. Tore it up in the beginning and tore it down in style to finish off.

Alan my friend, you are one of a kind...not that I think the world could handle another. When I think back to fond memories of the trip our times in Patagonia are right at the top of the list, wish weīd had you longer in Salvador but sure as hell wouldnīt have been the same without you. See you in Vancouver - to our new prince of mint!

Tyler - So now what do you think about changing your plans to stick with this nutty bunch?! Wicked to have you along and a perfect complement to the group. So awesome to meet someone on the trip you know youīll keep as a good friend at home. Hope you get some damn surf in Costa Rica! Catch you in a few weeks T-huck.

Danielle and Becky, SO glad we managed to catch up again in Salvador. Great to see you again - Danielle, thanks so much for coming to the terminal and happy belated bday, really sorry I missed it. Becky, hope you feel better and look forward to seeing BOTH of you when you get home! Scott and Husseni, as newbies to the group it was well beyond the call of duty to come down as well. Great to meet you both, and Scott we WILL see you in London.

Saving grace is I get to see Simon, Roya and Mark along with some other crazy kids from the trip again once Iīm London side. For now, deal with the present I guess.

Homeward bound

Ok, not yet exactly, but feels like it. 36 hours on a bus later and Sao Paulo is a nice enough city. Lots going on, tons of restaurants and clubs, theatre and all that jazz I canīt afford right now! Its HUGE, and makes not so bad a place to just wander around by yourself and reflect on great friends and an amazing trip, and...well lets just say I have a lot to reflect on for the next little while ;-)

Just hitting a couple museums, grabbing a couple souvenirs and a lot of sleep...might try to catch the beach in the next few days...weīll see. Well, miss you all lots, but those on the homeward side, not for long! No pics this time as the computer leaves a lot to be desired, but will get some up sooner or later. Take care all,

--Shawn
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Comments

alalli
alalli on

Hey......
The Bloco sounds like one crazy party...a nice way
to finish up the trip.

In the end I think u sold off South America pretty
damn well...thats one area i want to hit!

Look forward to seein ya when ur back!

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