I never knew 10 days of solid liver abuse could result in such an elongated sense of being hungover, but obviously I have received an education as well as a good time in Salvador.

For those who do not know about it, shame on you,  Carnaval is the biggest party in the world.  Every year the whole of Brasil, and now catching on to other countries, celebrates the end of something and the beginning of another;  Ok so im not great with my local knowledge at the mo mo.  Basically, the entire country decorates thier streets, paints thier faces, dresses in traditional dress and fills the entire city with colour, music, laughter and dancing.

  Naturally, there are different types of Carnaval.  The biggest being Rio de Janiero and Salvador, the entire country celebrates tho not to the same tune as these two cities.  Choosing Salvador as my Carnaval location, I was able to participate in street parades and dance to the drumming rythyms of the Brasillian Africans.  Everyday was a party bigger than the last and the partying continued throughout all hours of the day. 

  The daily routine was loose during the day and mostly we spent time walking the streets and shopping at the various street stalls, but the nights were a musci filled all-night-fiesta.  We had so many options and the city was divided into three main sections.  Firstly, Pelorhino the Histoical Section, (which is where our apartment is) where the majority of the British Slave trading occurred in Brasil, where the houses were colourful and colonial and the people of mostly Afro-Brasillian origin.  Big smiles, loud rythym and lots of colourful dress.  The other area was Camp Grande, where the locals partyed with the tradition float scene, where giant trucks drive the road blasting music that a crowd inside the ropes dance to and the less safe, outside the rope area, dance to aswell.  It is very common in this part to be grabbed by a random girl and passionately kissed for as long as u´d like.  And lastly, Porto da Barra which sadly is the most expensive Gringo area where the party exists again with mostly white faces, louder more commercial music and bigger brighter lights.  In this area it is a certainty you will be grabbed by random girls to make out.

  This was thew area we spent most of our nights, where we saw U2 perform thier free 3-song hotel balcony concert and where we walked in the rain following Fatboy Slim for another free concert of a different type.  The biggest bands and the biggest parties was this area and the main area for Gringo because of its size and the level of safety.

  All in all out of our 13 people:

Everybody kissed many random girls

9 People were punched in the head, a few multiple times, one on multiple occasions

6 People were pickpocketed, loosing not necessarily too much at all

700 beers were consumed (not including street beers)

16 hours of sleep was averaged

72 Hotdogs were consumed

7 nights indulged

  I told you….. Its the biggest party in the world.

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.

I have recently acquired a henna tatoo of our address.  Quite an ingenious idea actually as I was constantly loosing the little piece of paper and getting home was extremely difficult.  Ironically, it was almost immediately after I got the tatoo that I memorised the address…. Least I look badass.

Im not saying its overly comfortable but its cheap. This is budget travelling at its peak!  Welcome to my life right now!

 

 

Naturally tho, we have priorities.  No food, no water, just beer!  Over 400 infact. But hey……13 guys. 

a wall of beer!

The fridge!

Like I say, welcome to my life right now!!

Though fleetingly reunited in Rio, the Guns of Navarone are back in full force and with new members picked up from the various exploits of guns on the trails blazed between Buenos Aires and the respective paths to Salvador.  Incorporating too many new members our apartment here, intended for 7 people and sleeping 13 is now known as ´The Armada´

  Hitting Salvador on the 22nd of Febuary, the carnaval celebrations kicked off on the 23rd.  Oh my god, if I didnt have such a hangover I´d tell you all about it.  Maybe tomorrow, maybe not 😉 

Inbetween Rio and the infamous Salvador lies coutless havens of sand, sun, blue water and palm trees.  Finding Itacare in the Lonely Planet, Martin, Simon, Bo and myself set off for a couple of days relaxtion between the pace of Rio and the debaucherously delicious festival of Carnaval.  We hit the jackpot too.

  Taking a lesson of Capoeira, the Brasillian high-kicking-lots-of-flipping martial art exhausted me for a couple of days to follow.  Doing coutless situps, countless pushups and more star jumps than one could poke a stick at, we were treated to a ´play´ (when they do thier practise play fighting) where I saw the best Capoeira I have seen the whole time I´ve been in Brasil.  Sweating and hungry we emerged thoroughly energetic high kicking at each other for the next few days.

   But, that beach holidayze came to an end, and tho I may return, I am now in Salvador for Carnaval.