Posted by: Larzizou | May 16, 2008

Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

Carnival time ! For more info.

For the occasion, Ouah-lait shaved his head…

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…and I wore a red bandana…

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Both pictures were taken after the first carnival night, maybe the craziest. At about 3am, when the parade came to an end in Barra, it started pouring. Imagine thousands of people running, dancing, singing, screaming or running under the rainy starry sky, and you will only have a faint idea… On the way home, we mistakenly ran into a gay party. Ouah-lait wanted to stay (for the music, or so he says) but I really felt out of place and insisted that we went home. Whatever happens in Salvador…

The next morning, still in Barra, the street carnival resumes at 10am. Every year in early February, tens of thousands of people (if not more) rush to the biggest street carnival in the world. The lucky, or rather wealthy ones, buy ”abadas” (t-shirts), that allow them to stay within a close perimeter of the truck they selected and wish to follow, based on their musical preferences (each truck features one or several band(s)). This privilege comes at a hefty price. The music played is mostly “axe” (Daniela Mercury, Ivete Sangalo, etc), but are also present and spinning or singing world-class artists, such as Fatboyslim, David Guetta, Tiesto or Gilberto Gil, the acting culture minister for Brazil !

The ”pipocas” (in English, “pop-corn”) follow the trucks, outside of the perimeter defined by a rope held by ”abada”-wearing persons, for free. Youri, Ouah-lait and I are pipocas. Needless to say that in Salvador, at this time of year, everybody is sweaty and being a pipoca results in being sweat on by everybody around you. It also results in having your pockets thoroughly investigated by the same person whom, when caught, display two thumbs up as a genuine expression of friendliness. Sweating against each other (and sharing the wealth) create bonds. I say sharing the wealth because these “investigators” were kind enough to leave his camera and Blackberry to my cousin (but not the 40 reals that were in his pockets).

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Still in Barra, everybody get warmed up. There are three parades : one in Barra, one in Pelhourino (the historic area) and one in Campo Grande. The three areas are within walking distance to each other, but the impossible traffic is such that you have to choose either one for the day or night. Luckily, our apartment is facing the sea in Barra. We are right at the center of the action. We paid for it.

Rents are much more expensive during carnival week. Due to late planning, Youri and I arrived two days before Ouah-lait, and visited several apartments without him. We finally opted for a three bedroom apartment facing the beach (but without the ocean view) in Barra, for 3000 reals (about 1600 USD) for a little more than the whole carnival period. A luxury : 17 Israelis crammed in a similar apartment one floor below us.

Contrary to what we told Ouah-lait (basically, “it’s the only apartment we found”), right before this apartment, we visited another very decent two bedroom in Barra, nearby, that was renting for 2000 reals. The catch ? Only mattresses, no bed-frames. And sort of dirty. Anyway, Youri and I agreed not to tell you – tightwad – about it.

Below, some more Barra action.

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From right to left, let me introduce you to 0723A, 0723B, 0723C, 0723D and 0723E. All the squads are so numbered and for nothing in the world would they switch order, sitting, walking or arresting. Stunning : a fight burst in the parade. Within two minutes, a police squad apprehended the trouble-maker and walked him through the parade to the police precinct. The squad was welcomed by the crowd with a warm round of applause. I do not recall of any other time in my life when police officers were applauded by the crowd.

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With the blue-green shirt, Ouah-lait, sweating (as always). Youri insisting on being constantly half naked came as a surprise to us (and people around) as most Bahianeses are super muscular, which generally prevents such inconsiderate behaviors.

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“Lata, 2 reals”… but sometimes less.

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Emblematic of the carnival : the sponsor balloons flying in the air, the street vendors, the seven-year old kid smoking a cigarette…

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Same scene at night. Most people stay in the street from noon to 2am. Navigating the crowd is a subtle science. Lines of “elbow dancers” elbow-dance through the crowd. If you get hit – which is very probable and widely believed to be the primary motive of the “dance” – you’d better shut up.

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Dinner at the marina. My cousin is holding to his stringent kosher diet, but for me, once more, it is not kosher (and delicious). Sin tastes good.

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The only real “parade” we saw, in Pelhourino. No samba costume or wild dance. Rather disappointing.

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The second to the right. Remind you of someone ? Maybe San Goku ?

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A video.

A narrow Pelhourino street, the historic (and most touristy) area.

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A gem of colonial architecture (or so does the Lonely Planet guide say).

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This picture should be at the definition of back-alley in the dictionary.

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The other carnival. Here, the view from the camarote Salvador 2008, the most exclusive, where the young, beautiful and affluent go. Golden cages to enjoy the carnival…from afar. Also a drastic change socially as racially : in the street, 90% of black people; in the camarote, 90% of white people. A hefty price must be paid for open bar, open food, open kiss… I have to thank my cousin who invited me in wonderland the last night of the carnival.

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My cousin and his girlfriend in the private nightclub of the camarote. Who is coming to the carnival…for the carnival anyway ?

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Bringing the French touch to the carnival. A remarkable display of “tecktonik”, “tektonik” or “tektonick” however it is spelled.

Love (in the wrong place, at the wrong time).

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” Ah ” ! or ” help ” ! Youri had to cope with the various (though always negative) reactions his ”peculiar” physical appearance triggered.

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That’s Bahia.

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That’s Bahia (bis) !

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This guy was a god – by Salvador standards. Undefeated.

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In Brasil, beach raquet is a very serious matter. Bahianeses play as if their pride (and maybe lives) depended on it. Two to one.

Picking up the cans, an ungrateful job thousands of Bahianeses perform, from 7 to 77. The beach was pretty disgusting in the morning, smelling pee, filled with empty coco shells, straws, cans, etc.

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The thong, the beach, the latin passion.. Welcome to Salvador.

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At night, people would gather and applaud the sunset. So would we.

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Next comes “resaca” (“hangover”). As usual, for more info, witless depictions of the time we spent together or unflattering pictures of me, you can check Youri’s website and Wale’s.

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Responses

  1. Bold Phil!
    and when I say bold, I mean that u’ve got more hair on ur butt than on ur head!

    As fotos sao increivels meu amigo! Especially the one at home after your coming-out at the gay back-alley party!
    One of my top 5 craziest nights in my life

    Salvador carnival is the biggest street party in the world : 2 million people a day man! Way more than ten thousands…

  2. […] le sais, tu peux check les blogs de Wale et Phil si tu es un vrai […]


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