Carnival… the massive street parades. The drinking. The hugely inflated prices and endless surging masses of humanity all writhing to the rhythm of the drums. It was all a bit too much to think about to be honest, and so before I’d even gotten on a plane, I had already decided to spend the days around Carnival somewhere a little less extreme than Rio De Janeiro. The tiny little colonial town of Paraty.Please don’t think that I shy away from parties – far from it. On this occasion I had heard that this little town held a very unique and intimate carnival, and so it proved. As with any place in Brazil, the town is festooned with carnival related paraphernalia and everyone is ready to get in to the party mood. Carnival warms up weeks before the actual event – so much so that I attended two blocos, or block parties, in Rio alone – so in Paraty, the little group of people that had gathered together in the hostel I was staying at, followed suit. There were parades through the cobbled streets, replete with huge home made puppets and uniforms. The drumming groups, or baterias, were ubiquitous, and often clashed at street junctions as the themed groups moved through the town. There were public service groups (paramedics and firemen etc) with a huge ambulance that was carried around; there was a “tribal” group, all painted up and chanting; there was a horror themed group with some magnificently eldritch puppets being carried through town, and there was the “Bloco De Lama” which gets a lot of the press. On the beach outside town, there is a very muddy mangrove in which many a couple of thousand people cover themselves in the thick black mud and parade back in to town. There are drummers and muddy horses, muddy dogs and muddy cars. If you go in clean, don’t expect to come out the same way. Oh, and there was dick nose.
For five nights and five days, this relentless partying continued, powered by caipirinhas and sheer force of will. The locals can keep going all the time – I had to take the last night off. The previous ones didn’t finish until well after sunrise, so I hope I can be forgiven.
A great time, helped along by great people. The memories I have are of a great time and the memories I don’t have, I hope testify to also having a great time. The picture below is a surprisingly accurate first-person view of a parade after 6 caipirinhas.