Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Carnaval 2013 in Salvador, Brazil

Regardless of where Carnaval is being celebrated in the world, the word excites thoughts of people celebrating, endless dancing in the streets, colors from every sphere of the rainbow and continuous sounds that leave no doubt in the hearer’s mind that “there is a party going on.”  Carnaval in Salvador is no exception.
I arrived in Salvador on February 6, the day before Carnaval officially began in Salvador.  I decided to use the first day of Carnaval to gather information so that I could get a sense of what Carnaval was all about and what I could expect.  Gathering information first before attempting to enjoy the festivities of Carnaval turned out to be a good idea.  In Pelourinho, the area that I consider to be the “main old city center square,” there were representatives on hand to talk with anyone seeking information about the events and activities of Carnaval.  There, I received a very helpful guide that provided a schedule of activities and where they would occur.  That guide became my faithful friend.  Using the guide, I was able to plan what I wanted to see, although there were many spontaneous activities that I happened upon while traveling to my planned Carnaval destination.  Of the three areas, circuitos, where planned Carnaval activites were outlined in the guide, I experienced two of them and accidently stumbled on an area not listed in the guide, the Barra area, which actually turned out to be pretty amazing.

I started my Carnaval experience in Pelourinho, which the guide referred to as the Circuito Batatinha. That was a good place for me to start, since the area proved to be less congested and more tranquil than Circuito Osmar and the Barra area.  In both those areas, the crowd was innumerable, and while the atmosphere was electric, it was a chore to try to simultaneously see presentations by bands or performers, listen to the music and hold onto my valuables. 
While the crowds certainly presented some challenges, whether that was trying to navigate the crowds or attempting to catch a bus home, I found the experience as exhilarating as standing in Time Square waiting for the ball to drop at midnight on New Year's eve. 

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