Salvador is getting ready for Carnival—all supermarkets ordered massive stocks of beers and coolers, Avenida Sete de Setembro is being repaved, trees are being cut (more overhead clearance for floats) and the Farrol da Barra is being boarded up.
On Saturday morning, I heard from someone who heard it from
someone that there was a folia in Rio Vermelho in the evening.
I trust word-of-mouth info when it comes to party, so at 4:30 p.m.,
I started to walk towards Rio Vermelho, a fairly hip neighbourhood five
kilometres east of Barra. I took Avenida Oceânica along the waterfront and
crossed Barra, then Ondina.
I arrived in Rio Vermelho and spotted the first few clowns—yes,
clowns, because every “bloco de rua” (neighbourhood gathering) has a theme and
this one was the “Palhaços do Rio Vermelho,” the “clowns of Rio Vermelho.”
Revellers were getting reading around the campo,
putting makeup on if not done already, drinking a beer or five, taking pictures
and just having fun. Friendly atmosphere and friendly people, like in most blocos
(beer probably helps, mind you).
Blocos always look like impromptu gatherings but in
fact, they are carefully planned. It takes great organizational skills to bring
a few thousands (or several hundreds of thousands) people together, to create
The drummers showed up. The streets were filling up with
people coming from all directions.
The bloco was bigger than I was expecting. I’m always
surprised to see how inclusive they are—old, young, rich, poor, whatever, just show
up and party. A true “come as you are” experience.
Drummers started drumming at nightfall, a slow repetitive
beat soon echoed by other drummers picking up the beat and working with it.
The crowd started dancing, moving like a giant wave.