Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
  Back        Home     Next
Sent: Monday, March 27, 2000 1:27 PM
Subject: Mar. 5-8, 2000 - CARNAVAL, Final Days.

Current Date/Location: Monday, March 27, 2000 in Recife, Brazil.

Current Itinerary:
Smile...Currently expect to spend another week in Recife under constant medical care and observation. Have been afflicted by peculiar heart condition...hmmmm...maybe it has something to do with a beautiful doctor named Luciana that I have met...one symptom of this condition is that I am very behind on my journal updates...further tests are required...I´ll keep you informed...smile...

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY for both CARNIVAL and WORLD FESTIVALS found at bottom of this journal entry.
 

JOURNAL -
 

March 5, 2000 (Sun - DAY 4 of CARNIVAL!)

Internet most of the morning...got caught-up for the first time with my journals...ever! (NOTE: This did not last long!)

Agustin and I walked around for quite awhile...we were going to go to Barra Shopping to get a new small backpack for Agustin. We ended up walking halfway across town...and the shopping center was closed by the time we got here...but we didn´t care...we had a great walk, talked alot along the way, and got good exercise. We ended up in he Barra area and decided to have a sit-down dinner at a local restaurant before joining the Carnival crowds. We sat down, had a dinner, and watched TV which was showing the Barra Trio Electricos (which were running only a few blocks from our restaurant). Left and joined the nearby throngs of people in the streets ...danced and watched
the Trio Electricos for awhile...but neither of us was really into it tonight. We walked back toward Pelourinho (looking for a taxi) and stopped at a cafe and watched the Carnival in Rio de Janiero...it was spectacular.

It is interesting to watch Rio´s Carnival on TV in Brazil...you get to watch it live, without interruption, and without Western Censorship...let me explain. Being from the USA, I have always seen clips of Rio´s Carnival on
CNN or other channels...and only a fleeting glimpse. To watch the Rio Carnival here, is to truly see what a spectacular display it is. The costumes, floats, music, and dancing is incredible...I hope to oneday visit
Rio during Carnival to experience this show as well...it is totally different than Salvador...but amazing just the same.

We took a taxi back to Pelourhino...we were feeling pretty tired...but upon arrival, we got a SECOND WIND! We were dropped off in a beautiful square that we had never seen before. It had lots of decorations...including a
huge rainbow at one end, large indian figures, trees, etc...quite impressive. We walked along...we figured we would head back to the hotel...we were pretty tired. Stopped in a shop, and I bought a new necklace...leather braided with a small black rock...don't know what it symbolizes...I just liked it. Anyway, our luck and energy changed immediately after that!

We found a 24 hour icecream shop across the street...where they made Coconut Milkshakes! I got one, and we left...continuing on to the hotel. About 40 meters up the road, we ran into Sally (who we had met in Belo Horizonte) and a couple of her friends...she laughed at the milkshake in my hand. They wanted icecream...so we accompanied them back to the shop. We met 2 other friends of theirs...and it was turning into a group. We sat and talked for
awhile...and then Agustin spotted our 2 Polish friends. We all danced in the streets for quite a while and had a great time! ...finally crashed around 4:30am...again, fell asleep to the sounds of Raggae...

March 6, 2000 (Mon - DAY 5 of CARNIVAL!)
Woke (as always, we had the ever present sounds of Bob Marley and other Raggae bands to assist in our waking)...went out to meet Sally around 12:30...we had intentions of going to the beach...but it didn't happen...no
energy. Internet, icecream, and aimless wandering around was in order.
Later returned to hotel room...Agustin and I sat in there reading (I am in the middle of the book, Wild Swans...very cool), napping, talking and relaxing for probably 4 hours...all the while, wearing earplugs and being innundated with Bob Marley by our downstairs Sound Machine...constant sound...starting to get tired of Raggae...

Finally, Agustin and I got somewhat motivated...went to the square...met Maciej, Ana, and James...had dinner...danced around the squares following various walking bands...another good night.

Late into the night (early morning) we ended up hanging out on the square in Pelourinho, we met 2 guys from Alaska, a Scottish guy, a girl from Australia, and innumerable Israelis (Note: Probably the largest travelling
population right here is folks from Israel...really...don't know if anyone is left in Israel!). Had a great time talking to all...got rained on several times...collapsed into bed around 4am again.
 

March 7, 2000 (Tue - DAY 6, LAST DAY OF CARNIVAL (Thank Goodness!)):

Well, I must admit...Agustin and I both are dragging at this point...Carnival has taken it's toll...we are both exhausted...but, as it is the last day, we rally and head out to meet the others (Maciej, Ada, and James) for breakfast, at 2pm. We hung out the rest of the day together...James got his haircut...we all found a new lovely plaza in
Pelourniho...followed bands around in the streets dancing. Back at the square, met up again with the Aussie and Scot.

We all had the ambitious idea of heading down to the center of the Trio Electricos...walked to Praca Castro Alvarez (just about 2 blocks from Hotel Chile) where several Trio Electrico trucks were congregated. The noise was incredible. James and Agustin called it a night and left, and I hung out with just the Aussie and Scot. We danced in the street until another Trio Electrico started down the road toward the Praca...this one had slightly more aggressive sounds...and it was amazing to watch fights break out in the street around us...just due to the music. Needless to say, we moved to the side to keep out of the fray.

Anyway, the three of us walked back up towards Hotel Chile, when I encountered my friend Mark (I had met him in Bonito, while snorkeling)...he had arrived yesterday with a couple of other friends (and Aussie Guy and Italian girl, Sabrina). This group was somewhat fresh...this was only their 2nd day of Carnival. Anyway, we went with them back into the Praca...danced some more...then we all headed down the Elevator to the lower city. There was a raggae band (not that I had to leave my hotel room to hear raggae, eh?)...the Aussie girl and Scot left...watched the sunrise with Mark's group...we had breakfast of cake and icecream at 6:30am...then I had to go back to the room to pass out. At this point, I was completely exhausted and literally was finding it hard to walk...Carnival was great...it was truly a marathon to be enjoyed and endured...but now, I was glad it was over.

March 8, 2000 (Wed):

Woke...no RAGGAE MUSIC!!! I don´t think I have ever been so happy to NOT hear Bob Marley in my life! Showered and packed...dropped off disposable camera for developing. Used the Internet.

Hung out in James´ hotel room for awhile before going to the bus station. It was cool, because we caught the results of Rio´s Samba competition on TV. It was interesting, the Samba Schools were judged in 10 different categories...each category having 3 judges. The scores were announced in order...with the suspense building as they got closer to the last judges scores...finally the last score was announced and the 2000 Rio Samba Carnvaval Competition was won by Escola do Samba Imperatriz...they went nuts! The TV showed a live feed from the Iperatriz school...the people were going beserk...this is the highest honor for these schools to win, and you
have almost never seen this kind of celebration...absolute mayhem and happiness...it was great to watch, and we were glad we had been fortunate enough to see it.

We eventually headed to the busstation and took the 11pm bus to Lencois. We had heard that Lencois was a beautiful little quiet town in the middle of nowhere...exactly what we needed! On the bus, we did not get much sleep...couldn´t see the road, but certainly felt every kilometer we drove...very bumpy and curvy trip! ...but atleast we were free of Raggae music!

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - CARNAVAL:
I enjoyed Carnaval in Salvador...but never really got into the center of the BIG Carnaval activities. They were just too much for me...I preferred the relative quaintness of Pelourinho with bands that simply walk around the neighborhood with their instruments and with folks dancing behind them...much less crowded and commercial. In retrospect, and in consultation with other travellers, I give the following recommendations: Recife/Olinda probably provide the best opportunities to enjoy a true people´s Carnaval with reduced violence. Rio´s Carnaval offers one of the most spectacular shows that you are ever likely to witness...but is less participatory.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - WORLD FESTIVALS:
I had reserved judgement on festivals, prior to experiencing Carnaval in Brazil...but now feel qualified to give a somewhat expert opinion on some of the World´s Biggest Festivals. ABSOLUTELY, my favorite festival in the
world is the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain...I have never experienced anything that rivals it for it´s festivities, fireworks, electricity, purity of spirit, friendliness of the participants and people, and for the sheer adrenaline...if you ever go to only one major festival in the world...go to this one (even if you don´t want to run or see a bull, this party is SECOND TO NONE!). Mardi Gras (New Orleans) and Oktoberfest (Munich) are hommages to drunkenness...which is OK and has it´s place and is lots of fun...but lacks a certain sense of grace (yeah, right!) and higher purpose. Carnaval in Brazil is amazing and involves the entire country...see notes above. For one hour of intensity that you will love and hate...go to the Tomatina in Bunol, Spain (the huge street tomato fight)...you will charge into it and then crawl out of it...happy to have survived and hoping that you don´t have to eat tomatoes for a month! Tradition is everywhere during the Il Palio Horse Race in Siena, Italy every year...a spectacular show and 90 seconds of adrenaline for the whole city. The best music festivals that I have attended are South by Southwest in my
hometown of Austin, Texas...world class event by anyone´s standards, and JazzFest in New Orleans...simply great.

FESTIVALS ON MY "TO DO" LIST:
Burning Man - Nevada, USA
Carnaval - Rio de Janiero, Brazil
Wine Festival - Riojas, Spain (wine thrown at everyone)
Full Moon Parties - Hat Rin, Thailand
Mid Summer´s Eve and Crawfish Festival - Sweden
New Years - Capetown, South Africa
Carnavale - Venezia (Venice), Italy
Any other Recommendations? ...I am always looking for a good party...

Doug
Texas Nomad