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Carnival

While the rest of the Christian world celebrates the beginning of Lent with a day of eating pancakes, Brazil holds a five day carnival party with nonstop music and loose sexuality . Everyone lets themselves go wild and this perhaps explains why so many kids are born around Christmas in Brazil, 9 months later.

In Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo the carnival is most famous for the exotic parades through the streets. Samba floats shake their thing in front of huge crowds in the stands in one of the greatest shows on earth.

However, it seems kind of corrupt that the tickets are way beyond the reach of the poor in the favelas where samba originated.

Although everyone stands to watch the samba blocos pass by, it’s the sambodrome is essentially a spectator affair and not quite the wild part you might have expected Carnaval to be. On the other hand, if you’re willing to shell out the cash there are Carnival balls which often border on orgies and also free street parties all over the place.

Many travelers head up to Salvador to party through Carnival in the street. It’s definitely a happening place in Carnaval but it’s open season on tourists; the population of Salvador is mostly black so white backpackers stand out a mile and are often the target for beggars, drunks and rowdy kids. It’s not uncommon for youths trailing the blocos to punch any white face they see. It’s kinda hard to relax and enjoy yourself when so much shit comes your way.

The other traditional centre for Carnival is Olinda when a million people crowd the streets of this sleepy colonial town. Everyone is in fancy dress and there are hundreds of processions to trail and dance in the street for four days. It gets a bit messy by the last day though and you should be careful at night on each day of Carnival.

In the south and other small towns Carnival is a much more subdued affair with barbeques and house parties.

During Carnival prices rocket like you can’t believe. This is, after all, when everyone makes their money and they’re out to fleece the dumb tourists for all they’re worth. Every hotel in Rio is booked full for weeks beforehand. Find out where you want to be and arrange your accommodation as early as you can.

Carnival in Brazil can have a kind of a lawless atmosphere in some places so especially don’t wander around with your camera or watch or wallet sticking out of your back pocket.