The Carn(age)ival !

Trip Start Sep 18, 2004
Trip End Apr 27, 2005

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Monday, February 7, 2005

Well we did it - we survived the Salvador carnival and those who were there with us will confirm that this is no mean feat. Each year it attracts over 2 million people for the largest street party on earth, and Jonny confirmed on several occasions that it certainly rocked!

We were staying in a flat just down the road from the main action with several other backpackers - Raquel and Tom from Brighton, Steve from Norwich, Thomas from Norway, Justin the gooner (scum!), and of course Hans and Nico (the very bizarre belgian - the first thing he told me when he met me was he had crystals that he "used like computers" to give him increased powers.....)

The night before the carnival a dinner gathering had been arranged by Apollo from the Lonely Planet Thorntree website. For those of you who donīt what this is it is a site which backpackers log onto to ask and answer questions on the road. It is a fantastic website which makes it easy to pick up tips from travelling experts. At this dinner were about 30 people from around the world and it was quite interesting to meet up with the other backpackers in town for the carnival and steal their information. This meal of course turned into quite a large drinking session which did not finish until the sun began to rise - ideal preparation for the carnival!

After alot of sleeping we were ready for the first night - or so we thought! The streets were heaving with the masses nd when the immense floats went past it got seriously tight on the sidewalk. The floats were huge lorrie type vehicles and you could pay to be in a "bloco" which was a group of people following it. This group was kept seperate from the throngs on the street by a literal wall of security men holding a rope around them and the float. the outside of this, we discovered was flanked by pickpockets and muggers as when the first one went past Jonny lost all his money and I had someone have a good feel in my pockets! The lesson was learnt and whenver they came past we stepped back a little into a side street to enjoy it whilst still keeping hold of all our posessions!

On the saturday night we decided to go to a "camiroche". This is effectively a private party overlooking the carnival route that all the rich brazilians go to. It wasnīt cheap but the free food and drinks all night more than covered the cost (well done especially to Tom and Raquel for liberating 6 packets of oreos for the people!). The camiroche had a blacony overlooking the parade route so we spent some time there before heading inside to rule the dance floor until it shut at 5am.

Feeling a bit under the weather we had a chilled time on the sunday. A kiwi friend of ours was having a party on the roof top terrace of the flat she had hired so we popped along there. It was fully equipped with sunloungers and even a pool and more annoyingly was cheaper that the accomodation Jonny and I had!

Monday morning saw the departure of Jonny to Bolivia. I would like to wish him all the best on the final stage of his trip and say that his company has been an absolute pleasure over the last 4 months or so - I think one heated moment in that time bears testiment to how easy he was to get one with, Brownie and I managed that within a week of travelling together!

As soon as Jonny left the skies opened and the theme of the carnival for the next few days was of getting soaking wet! We visited the Campe Grande site on the monday (another parade route - less commercial and more ethnic music. On the way back we managed to get lost and the girls who we asked for directions were initially helpful but then held Steve hostage, demanding money for their aid!
By the end of the night we were soaked to the skin, not for the last time, and this took some of the edge off the last couple of nights as we would head home earlier rather than later - looks like Jonny escaped at the best time, getting out whilst the going was good.

All in all, the Carnival was an experience that I will never forget. It was a fantastic time and I have to thank Tom, Raquel, Steve, Thomas, Jonny and Justin for helping make it what it was.

It was sad to leave the house after bonding with all the housemates (well all but Nico the Shamen!) but I had a 30 hour bus ride to Rio to take for a weekend of shenanigans.....!
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