Nuts

Trip Start Oct 02, 2009
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Trip End Ongoing


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Hammoks

Flag of Brazil  , State of Bahia,
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

After about a year of planning our trip, the central theme was to be in Salvador for carnival, yet being the organized bunch that we are we still had no accommodation booked a week before the carnival started. The prices for hostels were mental expensive so we decided in Iguazu we would bypass carnival as we had nothing booked and our budget was not looking good. However on the journey from Iguazu to Rio we decided that this could be our last chance to do carnival so we booked the last place available on the Internet and headed for Salvador. This would be the best decision we made in the whole trip.

We stayed in an area called Pelourinho or as the locals refer to it ¨¨The Pelo¨, this is known as the historical centre of the city with a lot of old architecture. This was a good base point as the area where the street performers would be located (Barra) was approximately 20 Min's away by bus.

According to The Guinness Book of Records the carnival in Salvador is the biggest street party in the world. 2 million celebrate along a 15 mile stretch of street with its carnival being much more street party orientated compared to the costumes and parades of Rio. We were in Salvador from the Thursday to the Sunday and the crowds got progressively bigger every night. The city itself has a bit of a reputation for being rough and this was plainly obvious as we witnessed several pickpockets and we ourselves were targeted a couple of times....although we are hard so there was no success for the Feeeeens. The carnival itself consisted of Trios Electricos (large trucks) with several bands on top, each with deafening sound systems. Each Trio then had security guards carrying long stretches of rope which separated the street from the people, you had to buy special shirts to be inside the rope, these areas were called the blocos. Inside these blocos was insane with a constant stream of people hopping to each tune that was blazed out. Some of the main performers for the Salvador carnival were Bob Sinclair and DJ´s Ferry Corsten and Laid Back Luke. Although after observing the blocos from the street for the first few nights we realised the craziest ones seemed to be the ones containing Brazilian bands.

On the first two nights we sampled the carnival from outside the blocos and to see the sheer mass of people participating was pretty amazing. We joined in with one free parade but quickly noticed it consisted of 90% transvestites so we made our exit and continued to observe from the street. We also bumped into the two other Sth Kerry contingents on the street on separate nights, considering there were over 2 million people at this carnival it shows that you cant go anywhere!!! EJ informed us of a very good bloco to go to on the Saturday which he was going to. We decided to bite the bullet and buy one of the t-shirts. This again proved to be a great idea as the bloco we were in was insane. For the first 2-3 hours it was like being in a mosh pit with feet being lifted off the ground and just a mass movement of people. Also when looking outside the rope we noticed it was by far the busiest night with people barely able to move on the street. Also we seen that things were far more rougher. This may be due to the fact to the way the local boys dance which is called Capoeira. Capoeira is a mix of dance and martial arts of Afro- Brazilian origin. The presence of capoeira in Brazil is directly related to the importation of African slaves by the Portuguese with Salvador being the centre of origin of modern Capoeira. The purpose of capoeira was to remind the slaves of their homeland through music and to defend themselves against aggression from their owners. The art of capoeira is identified by swinging hips, arm stands, head butts and sweeping feet movements. Also what was very apparent at this carnival was the racial divide, with nearly 95% of black people outside the bloco listening for free, while inside was mostly white. This no doubt was the cause of a lot of trouble as people from outside would rush in and attempt to punch people inside the bloco. A lot of people claim Salvador's carnival highlights the difference between the wealthy and the poor by this segregation of the people and feel it fuels a lot of the trouble. Bob Sinclair was playing in the bloco right in front of us, Brian Benitez went up to this bloco for a while and reported back that his set was pretty amazing.

This was a major highlight on our trip and we were all very glad we made the trip, the only disappointing aspect was the lack of photos as you would only be asking for trouble if you brought a camera out with you. But if we were to give advice to anyone about traveling Sth America it would be to plan it around carnival in Salvador. Unbelievable
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