Monday, February 23, 2009


The first 2 nights I was in Salvador were amazing. The first night I was supposed to go out into the crowd to watch these big trucks of music go by (called Blocos) but there was a mixup in the hostel kitchen when preparing my dinner (they gave it to someone else accidentally so they had to make another one) and the gang left the hostel when I didn't notice.

It's apparently not safe for tourists in Salvador so I've been trying to go out with other people in general at all times. That night though, I decided to go and look for the others or just go it alone anyway, so I walked out and tried to blend into the crowd and follow my common sense.

I ended up walking about 3 or 4 kms down the parade path and watched the crowd on the way there. I was just an observer until I got to the end at a park with 2 grandstands on either side of the road loaded with people and people all over the street dancing to the blocos that go by. The whole way there, there were people all over the streets dancing, drinking, people watching, laughing, eating questionable shish kebabs of meat on a stick, and selling food/drinks.

The music of Salvador is called Axe. It sounds cool and a bit different. Sometimes I feel like it sounds like the horn led music you hear at Disneyland parades.

As I was dancing with the crowd, people around me noticed that I wasn't a local, so they were smiling at me and encouraging me to dance and have a good time. Some people spoke Portuguese to me but I didn't understand anything.

I danced like that for like 2 hours before I headed back to my hostel through the still crowded and dirty city streets. They don't feel that safe, but they don't feel that dangerous either.

On the 2nd night, about 20 people from our hostel had decided to buy tshirts for a bloco so we put on our tshirts before and walked outside to the blocos' starting point where everyone gathers.

The blocos are the part of the parade that are groups of people dancing to a band. It's like a moving group of people. You have to pay to be in a bloco. The reason you pay is because there are 100s of security people holding a rope around the bloco that keep other people out. You're paying for the security and the 2nd car that is inside the bloco that has a bathroom and a drink bar. If you don't have the security people, you're pretty much on your own (like I was the 1st night) and it can be dangeous for some people who can't do crowds.

When the blocos go by, being outside (called popcorn) is pretty dangerous because the bloco people push out the popcorn to the sides of the street and space becomes hard to find. Even so, people are still trying to move around the bloco and so things come to a standstill and then when you think there's no way to move, people behind and in front are pushing and mashing you into the neighbors (crowd mentality). If you are weak or claustrophobic this situation can get deadly.

So yeah, the 2nd night our bloco's name was Olodum dogons and it was a band and drum core. We followed them on the parade route in the safety of the bloco, but even that was pretty crowded, loud, and rambunctious.

In the blocos bathroom in the vehicle I found a couple of guys snorting coke too. First time I've seen that.

What I loved about the bloco was the drum line. These guys had great uniforms and just seemed so into their music. They sounded good, very very good. They seemed so dedicated to their tradition and were very serious about their jobs. I really enjoyed watching people that were so passionate about what they were doing. When they started up and the local crowd started cheering I teared up because I was impressed by their pride.

I had a moment on both nights where I was so happy to be at Carnaval. It was just an amazing feeling. I couldn't believe I was able to witness what I did. I felt so lucky.


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