Juliana believes that 2014 is a year of parties here in Brazil, and it definitely does feel like it. A late carnival (the Brazilian year doesn’t really start until after it), followed by Easter, then the World Cup and you’re more than half way through the year and closing in on Christmas! She’s making the most of it, and took me out on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Even though she barely slept, she was up and out by 9am on the Sunday too but that was beyond me.
Saturday was the best of the three as we went out to the preview of the Amantes de Glória bloco. I’m not certain, but I think the only real difference between the preview and the real event in carnival is the number of people. The preview is busy, but during carnival you basically get carried along in a wave of people and good luck if you want to do anything extreme like moving of your own volition. Being taller than most people has meant crowds have never really bothered me, the claustrophobia that others suffer from is much less prominent when you can look over the sea of people without climbing up a tree.
The style of carnival in Recife is full of blocos, which seemed to be a big gathering in the street, the band started playing, and everyone follows them pied piper style around the neighbourhood. On the Saturday, I went out with Juliana, Galego, Renaldo, Jefferson, Duda, Robbie and… some others whose names I didn’t catch. Galego is from Recife but lives in Brasilia running a social network to help patients meet doctors and is the person to thank for the spectacular photos. He had a DSLR and knows how to use it. I had my crappy camera and barely used it safe in the knowledge that I’d get Galegos photos! Renaldo is from Recife too, but has been living in the UK with his partner for the last few years.
Jefferson speaks the least English of that group, but understands well and was crucial in me finding alcohol. The Recife carnival is sponsored by Skol and it seemed to be drunk by everyone there, I wanted to drink cachaça, the local liquor instead, especially as one of the biggest brands, Pitu, is from the state I was in (Pernambuco). It’s sold in cans, and for less than $2 you can get half a litre of 40% alcohol that tastes less than delicious. It come with a plastic cap that allows you to kind of re-seal the can after opening it, if for some reason you don’t feel like drinking half a litre in one go. I got a smaller can, of 350ml and made my way through it during the night. I was sipping slowly enough that I had no hangover the next day and Juliana – who kept warning me about it – was surprised that I didn’t even seem drunk.
Amantes de Gloria
Video of the bloco