Brazilian Carnival 2006-Olinda and Recife. Best 4 days (and nights) of my life! It all began one very early Saturday morning, the alarm began buzzing at 4am, Sarah, Caroline and myself dragged ourselves slowly but surely out of bed, dodging the cockroaches as we did so (slight infestation in Caroline's house!) The taxi arrived at 4.30 and we shoved our rucksacks in the back and set off for the football stadium where we were getting the bus. We found Paul sat on his own, with no buses in sight, luckily I had spotted a load of buses by the next-door stadium, so we managed to persuade the tÃ¡xi driver to take us there to make sure that wasn't where we were getting the buses, as he was adamant we were at the right place, even though no one was around! Sure enough, everyone was outside the other stadium along with 5 coaches all heading to Recife for Carnaval! So it could have been a very short and uninteresting carnival had it not been for persuading the tÃ¡xi driver to check out the other stadium before he left us! We loaded our bags on the coach, and felt rather ridiculous as everyone else had suitcases, and we had small rucksacks!!-got some strange looks. We settled down on the bus, ready for some sleep...................."#[email protected]&*);:@##$" before someone let off a foghorn that was! The rowdiness continued for most of the journey, as the Brazilians were ready to party, even if it was 5 in the morning! We were the only 'gringo's' on the bus (foreigners) and in fact on the whole excursion-which consisted of 5 bus loads of youngsters from Natal! We were expecting an 8 hour journey, as this was what we had been told prior to departure, so when we began to notice places and vehicles with 'Recife' written on them 4 hours into the journey, we couldn't quite believe our luck! We checked in at the hotel in Boa Viagem, a beach resort in Recife, had a few hours to unpack, grab some food and then we jumped on the bus. That is after Caroline and I sprayed our hair purple and put excessive make-up on and felt like idiots... until all the other people in fancy dress appeared!- We soon realised why everyone had suitcases, they really went to town on the fancy dress, and probably stashed in a lot of alcohol tÃ´o! The latter part was reflected on the impressive rowdiness of the girl's on the bus, put you English lads to shame! We arrived in Olinda, after about 30 minutes on the bus, immediately after stepping off the bus, the word 'gringo's' echoed all around us. It is a Brazilian 'thing' to say to any foreigner 'gringo'-meaning foreigner or something of the sort, and we were no exception. We followed some of the people from our bus, although we had no idea where we were going. We walked down a road with little market stalls, different music blaring from all different directions, mostly favella music at this point-which we were loving by now from hearing all the songs in the clubs in Natal. The crowds then began to form as we walked more and more, we followed one of the guys from the tourist group, on the 'quick' way to the Kamarote-which at this point were unsure of what it was! By the time we finally arrived at the Kamarote, we were needless to say, extremely hot. Nearing 40 degrees, and 1.5 million people in small streets are a good combination for a pretty sweaty state of being! We grabbed some drinks from the Kamarote, which we discovered was what could only be assumed as a disused house, with toilets, balcony Ã¡rea, dj, and a bar, and later...a medical centre for Sarah when she sliced her foot open from glass in the street-urrgh! We then went off exploring through the streets, we had been warned previously of 'Beijar circles' but weren't quite sure what to expect, but soon enough the words 'Beijar, Beijar' were being chanted and Caroline found herself forced to kiss a guy surrounded by all his mates in a circle, egging him on! A situation we afterwards tried to stay clear of as much as possible! If I had a penny for the number of times we were asked, "Hi, where are you from, Can I kiss you..." over those four days I'd be a very rich woman! The first day was pretty much a 'piss-up', we couldn't really find any music just a mass of drunken youths, so we got into the spirit and got our first alcoholic beverage of the day, but soon realised mixing alcohol and the heat probably wasn't the best idea, seeing as not even the Brazilians were coping...I'll leave the rest to your imagination! We found a few different Ã¡reas dotted around; a drug spot, where we probably got stoned just breathing, because of the amount of Cannabis wafting around! We found the Ã¡rea where all the guys went for a pee, again breathing led to an uncomfortable state of being! We found a street where there were A LOT of very attractive men, we soon realised why when we realised that the beijar circles consisted of only men, you get me...!? And our street we discovered seemed to be the hot-spot for kissing, so it was often a struggle to get through, 'kiss me' coming from all directions! It was not what I expected the first day as by the time we had left we had only found one Ã¡rea where a band was playing, but as we walked to the bus we saw a stage and realised that we had gone in completely the wrong direction when someone told us where all the music and bands were! After a great day, we were all in high spirits, apart from the headaches from the heat. However this was all about to change...I think it would be unfair to go into full detail but I will give you a small idea of the events of that dreaded Saturday night, bearing in mind that we had been awake since 4 in the morning!... To cut a long story short, Sarah, Caroline, Paul and I were all sharing a hotel room. Before leaving Natal we had had problems with Paul, and basically none of us were of the best of terms with him, but we had all agreed to let bygones be bygones as much as possible and just enjoy carnival. However by the time we got back to the hotel Paul was already a little drunk, and with this drunkenness forgot his manners somewhat, he sat back necking a bottle of rum, whilst smoking a cigarette (bearing in mind the rest of us are non-smokers), and with his music blaring-through Caroline's speakers. A good mix with our headaches especially when asked to turn the music down and smoke somewhere else he refused. We left on a bad note and by the time we got back from dinner the bottle of rum had taken it's effect, and he was in a bad way, as was the state of our room. We eventually left him be and headed for the evening carnival celebrations in Recife old-town, vowing to not speak of him until we returned On our return we were accompanied by someone from the tourism agency, and basically weren't allowed to go into the room until they said it was Ok to do so, so after being up for basically 24 hours were were very grateful to get into bed, apart from the fact that Paul was conked out on the floor underneath the table! But as one of the girl's from the tourism agency reminded us, 'at least he's not dead'!-they thought he might be for a while! Recife old town, however was a good place to take our mind off things and we found some weird and wonderful places there too, including the now named-FREAK STREET! We were drawn to it by the upbeat music, all popular American/English music, from Gasolina, to Call on Me. It was a shock to us when we found the only people dancing to the music were Goths, all wearing evanescence t-shirts, and doing a 'really weird type of dance', a demonstration is probably needed as I don't think words can really describe! However, me and Caroline just blocked out the other people dancing, and danced like 'crazy fools'! to the music we had been dreaming of hearing for a good while now, after all the samba beats, which we couldn't quite train our feet to dance to.-I speak for myself more really as Caroline is a much better dancer than myself. However, I think we probably did find the most dangerous street in Recife, but we loved it anyhow! We also found a big stage where there was a circle of break dancers having dance-offs, which we watched with admiration for a good while. Caroline and I also purchased some funky gear-boob tubes with foam shapes, beads etc. stuck on to get in the crazy dressing up spirit of Olinda Carnival! Sunday 26th February- (probably boring you now so I'll just break down what we did for the next few days..) • Managed to get Paul to book himself into another hotel. • Headed to Olinda at 10.00, didn't realise we could have gone at 12.30, and how we needed that sleep..never mind! • A lot more music, a lot of blocs going around the streets (blocs being, where there is a big band, and people pay money to be part of the bloc and get t-shirts and walk around (well dance around!) with the band through the streets.) So we followed a few of these, and the best part of the day was when a bloc stopped outside the Kamarote and we watched it from the balcony, again dancing around like crazy fools. Then Caroline was throwing water over all those below, who were worshipping her like a queen! • More 'kiss me..' propositions, well many more, and unfortunately some forced upon us, even when you were holding your mouth shut as hard as possible-this was really quite unpleasant on this day as they were quite aggressive, and didn't care whether you gave your consent or not. • Also realised on this day how people get crushed to death in crowds, as it was so jam-packed on the streets-quite scary at points. • When we arrived back in Boa Viagem, Recife, we stepped off the bus and as we did so, all the lights in the Ã¡rea turned off-the power had completely gone, was really strange to see! So we sat outside our hotel room as we couldn't see in the room for an hour or so. • Then went to grab something to eat, not na easy task, ended up in the hotel restaurant, and with only two other tables in the restaurant, they managed to lose our order!! So we got room service..felt like a movie scene! • Went to Recife at night, on a fairly empty bus, and it was then that we realised that the reason we were sooo tired and everyone else seemed fine, was not because they were super-human, but that the Brazilians either did carnival in the day, or at night, not both like we were doing!! The next day we were asked whether we were on drugs, because we were only drinking water but were partying all day long, and all night long tÃ´o! Monday 27th February • 40 degrees today-extremely hot, especially amidst the crowds.-This was not helped when we walked as far away as possible from the Kamarote when trying to find it, even though we had just picked up a map from the tourist information! • Danced once again, like 'crazy fools' in the Kamarote, with the dj doing his 'thang!'-especially to the Crazy Frog tune, for some reason it just sounds so much better here! -Really! • Caroline lost her flip (not her flop) in a huge crowd surge, but luckily so poor beggar picked it up for her-you should see the state of it! And to add to her distress as we got out of the crowds, someone walked pass and squirted foam right in her eye!-lovely. • Decided to take it easy that night, as we were shattered from the heat, oh..and the lack of sleep! So we just got a taxi to 'the best restaurant 2005'. Although in 2006 I think we all agreed they let their standards slip, as the waiter's all ignored us and it was only thanks to the manager that we got any food at all. A nice big pizza, and the biggest portion of pasta you've ever seen, ate a bit of what was in front of us, and as quickly as possible went back to the hotel, for fear of falling asleep in a bowl of pasta! Tuesday 28th February • Last day of Carnival • Again very hot, followed some giant figures around for a while-see pics! Danced a bit more, dodged our way through the 'beijar' chants, and kissing propositions. Watched some bands, wondered the streets, danced again, looked around the little market stalls and just soaked up the last bit of Olinda Carnival. Which had been such fun, hopefully given you a glimpse of the great time we had there. • When we got back, we did the tourist bit, and walked around the market by our hotel, and I purchased a few Brazilian souvenirs. We then met a group of 3 Canadian guys, was nice to be able to have a proper conversation with new people, as we had been pretty much the only 'gringo's' at Carnival, which was actually really good as we felt were getting the proper Brazilian experience, not the tourist perspective. Even if it did cause us to be harassed every 5 minutes or so! I don't know why we stood out so much, I mean we look Brazilian right...! • We grabbed some dinner at a self service restaurant, I piled the bolo(cake) on my plate, mmm bolo...! And then headed back to the hotel to grab our things before getting on the bus. • We wanted to go hardcore, and get not the 1o'clock, nor the 2 o'clock, but the 3o'clock bus back that night, but to our disappointment, FREAK STREET stopped it's music at 1/1.30am, scandalous! • I had the strongest capirinha I've tasted yet-bearing in mind I'm usually drunk on one plastic cup full! But for some reason this one just conked me out, and my eyes were so heavy with tiredness we ended up getting the 2 o'clock bus back, sorry we let you down Brits!-think all in all we did a good job of showing the Brazilians, how to party though! Wednesday 1st March • We woke up, had our last buffet breakfast, Caroline crammed it in as the food supply in our house is slightly lacking to say the least! And then decided to let OPERATION TAN commence. Went to the beach, which took about a minute from our hotel, and were obscenely offered 3 chairs, with no parasol for R$15, (usually about R$4 with an umbrella!), so we settled for the sand! • At 2 o'clock, we then all got on the bus for our return journey, which took a few hours longer than the journey there, mainly as we stopped for breaks this time. The bus journey was less rowdy this time, instead we had Troy playing on the tv's-in portugese unfortunately, and later probably the worst concert in the history of the world. A Brazilian singer named Tati, who's show consisted of a few disco lights, her shouting words, to the same beat for every song, but with a huge crowd-don't know who would pay to watch it! Anyhow, we finally arrived back in Natal at 8.30ish, and Caroline and I headed back to her house-very strange feeling to be back, but we had a lot of fun reminiscing, and re-telling all the funny stories to Caroline's host sister Priscilla. We settled into bed, with a huge smile on my face, I looked back very fondly on our time there, the best 4days and nights I've had yet...