Well last night Vilma's sister gave her a free "abada" to go to a camarote for the first night of Carnaval. For those of you who aren't familiar with Salvador's Carnaval, an abada is a t-shirt that you buy and which acts as your "ticket" to go into either a bloco or camarote. Last year I only went out for one night of Carnaval, and we just hung out on the street. Vilma decided that she wanted me to go into the Camarote and that she would stay down on the street since it would be safer for me to be in an area with security.
When I've daydreamed about spending a lot of money at Carnaval, I always thought I would prefer a camarote to a bloco. When you are in a camarote, you get to see the whole Carnaval parade go by. Plus you are up high and can look down on the crowd, giving you a great vantage point for fights and other madness that goes on. Blocos are the groups that follow the individual bands as they make their way along the parade route. The bands are up on this big truck/stage and there is an area that is roped off (the ropes are held by people who walk along and act as security) that the bloco folks hang out in to dance, etc. There's also another truck that goes along behind that has a bathroom and a bar selling drinks. Blocos are good if you like a specific band a lot, but a camarote gives you the chance to see all the bands.
So off I went into the camarote, with Vilma down below waving at me. I felt kind of awkward about this, as I wanted her to be with me. But we didn't want to pony up the R$170 it would have cost for another abada. So when the trio-electricos went by, I went upstairs for the view and safety, but when there was an interval I went out to the street to hang out with Vilma.
I have to say that it was really fun and the camarote that I was in had the added bonus of an ocean view on the other side of the structure. I had the chance to see about 4 bands pass by before I got tired and we decided to go home. We picked a good time to go home too, because when we got to the bottom of the hill leading up to our apartment, a downpour started. We ran up the hill, got kind of wet and were in bed by around 12:30. I saw 2 guys get taken away by the cops, and Vilma saw 2 guys running who looked like they had just stolen something, but overall it was a super mellow first night to Carnaval and I'm glad I went out.