All around Brasil and spreading throughout more of South America, a celebration known as Carnaval sweeps the nations engulfing entire cities in music, culture, dancing and of course colour.  Probably most famous for this almost week long party are Rio de Janiero, where patrons buy overpriced seats (around US$250 a day) to sit and watch a parade, or Salvador, where the streets fill with life and the party and parades consume all those in its wake.  For this reason, to be a part of the actual celebration, I decided on Salvador for the Carnaval.

  What an experience.  The actual festival is amazing.  There are floats that run through the street full of up to 3000 people, outside the barriers of the floats are thousands more people all dancing and singing to the same music.  Buildings are errected, just for carnaval, all along the footpaths of the main street which are three storied buildings called ´Camarotes´ where people pay (again too much) to watch the parade from a safe standing spot.  The streets, tho full of fights, pickpockets and occassionally gangs, are alive with thier own pulse.  Everyone dances, often together line dancing style only cooler, there are Capoeira huddas in the middle of everything, men dressed in drag, women dressed in very little and all to the beat from the enormous trucks.

  It has been 4 of the total 6 nights and what an experience they have been.  The first night we spent time in Pelorhino, the local african-brasillian, drum banging, bead wearing, entire family dancing carnaval renound as the most dangerous area, but which is nothing more than the most traditional area; really the family area.   Drinking and dancing our way through the colourful, highly decorated streets stopping at bars and dirnking beer with the locals.

  The second night we went to Porto de Barra, which is the gringo carnaval, where giant trucks drive down the middle of the street playing music, and people buy overpriced t-shirts to dance within a rope barrier held by over a hundred men and women all walking along with the truck.  We however, did not buy these t-shirts, and did what all the locals and other poor backpackers do, dancing through the streets just outside the expensive rope barriers.  The party here, tho not as safe, is just as good and the atmosphere spreads contagiously throughout the entire crowd.  Sure almost all of us have been robbed, punched in the head, or have made out with random brasillians, alot of us all three, but the party is continous and with your wits about you trouble is avoidable.  That night we walked and danced around the floats soaking the atmosphere and drinking from the mobile beer vendors that walk the streets and are extremely cheap.  We also saw U2 perform on thier hotel balcony.  That was a highlight, watching Bono sing Bob Marley and the crowd below errupt.

   The third night we went back to the same area and walked the streets again, inbetween the floats with a promise of U2 playing.  Again enjoying the festivites we drank, danced, made out with randoms (carnaval is the ´kissing festival´) and partied long into the next days light.  Probably my most fun night yet we all managed to stay together for the most part. 

  Night four, the third night of actual carnaval, the partying caught up with me and I could not hold down anything in my stomach at all, let alone go out.  For that reason I spent a night, reluctantly, in bed recouperating and drinking lots of water.

And finally, last night was another experience.  We headed into the other area ´Campo Grande,´ where the brasillians go to party like the gringos do in Porto de Barra.  Walking through the streets we were constantly pickpocketed and on 2 occassions I actually caught hold of a guys arm trying to open my pocket.  The funny thing was that 10 minutes before he was hugging me and warning me against other people.  We were the only white faces walking through the streets of ´Campo Grande´ and I felt the least safe from all the nights I have been here.  I was pushed out of the way by a massive black guy, only for him to rush past me and punch another guy in the head before his friend kicked him in the head and 2 people were punched in the head and 2 properly pickpocketed.  All part of the fun right?  Also it was more crowded, but a distinct part of carnaval and hence most definately worth checking out.

  Anyways, thats me up to speed.  Have another 2 nights of official carnaval partying which will be amazing and then a week or so recouperation before leaving South America for Europe.  But before then we are going to Porto de Barra for the last night of Carnaval to be a part of Fat Boy Slims Bloco.

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