18 Jan 2008

Preparing for carnaval (who said Brasil is cheap?)

Posted by walterheck

I have been preparing for carnaval for a few weeks now. It is something I am really lookin forward to. We also celebrate carnaval in the region of Holland where I grew up (see: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=carnaval+(sittard+OR+maastricht)&search=Search ). Carnaval in Brasil is considered the holy grail of carnaval in that area, so you can imagine how excited I am.

First part of the preparations was finding a city to celebrate it. Major attractions here in Brasil are Rio, Salvador and Olinda/Recife. The choice was quite easy: Rio is too touristy, Recife and Olinda are supposedly very nice but would be 36 hours by bus from Belo Horizonte, which really is too far. So I knew reasonably fast that it was gonna be Salvador.

Problem with Salvador is that it is ridiculously expensive. The main way of celebrations there is something called bloco’s: big trucks full of sound systems with live acts performing on top. The area around the truck is marked by some guys holding a rope, and you can only be inside that area if you are wearing a shirt from that Bloco (it’s like a highly visible entrance ticket). These bloco’s can go from free to over 500€ per night. The problem with the free ones is that they are far less safe than the more expensive ones.

Then there was also the problem of accomodation. Luiz’s airforce friend Protasio had offered me a couch when I was in Salvador before, so I sent him an email. He replied saying he offered his place to 6 girls and I was too late. I can’t say I blame him, I would have picked 6 girls over a fat dutch guy 😉

Next, I didn’t feel like paying high prices for a hostel (prices are sometimes 10x the normal prices, even more than during NYE) and figured couches would be next to impossible. Stil, I sent out some couch requests. Lo and behold, one of the first requests was bulls eye!. I could stay at this family’s place but they were not celebrating. I was happy to have found a place but it didn’t feel quite right. One of the main pillars of couch surfing is to behave appropriately. I dont feel that I would be comfortable surfing someone’s couch going out every night and getting drunk and coming home late with the knowledge that they have a small child that is sleeping.

Then there was my friend Luiz again, my previous host in Salvador. When I was talking to him just to get some random information about the carnaval (I was very happy to have a local experienced person to help me!) he told me about this apartment that some of his friends are renting. It is located right on the main boulevard that all the bloco’s are on (see here: http://maps.google.com/maps?t=h&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=-13.007981,-38.516924&spn=0.002875,0.005879&z=18&om=0). The price was rather steep (600 reais or 225€) but actually a good deal when you think about it: I would be with trustworthy people in a completely safe environment, I would get to see all the bloco’s for free, I would have a place to stay and come back to for 6 nights and in the morning I would be able to take a swim in the ocean.

I decided after some thinking this would be my best option and asked Luiz to reserve a spot for me. As of now I have no idea who the people are that are going to stay there, except that there are gonna be 10 people, probably all brasilian and mostly girls.

I have bought my bus tickets for the 29th to Salvador and for the 6th to get back. So I haven’t celebrated a single day of carnaval yet and have already spent 950 reais (close to 400 EUR) on it. This better be the best carnaval of my life (I have a feeling it will be!) 🙂

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