Carnaval starts tomorrow night. The party that so many folks have been waiting for is finally almost here! And the preparations are in FULL swing to be ready to go by the start of the first parade in Barra/Ondina. Here are some things that have been going on:
*Trimming of trees and grass along the parade routes.
*Putting up extra street lights. At night during Carnaval along the parade route it looks like it's daytime because of all the lights.
*Putting up lights along the telephone wires...these almost look like Christmas lights but are bigger. Vilma pointed out to me last night that on the hill going up to our apartment someone has already broken a row of these lights to make it darker. Preparation for robbing? Hard to say, but is the likely answer.
*Camarote building. Camarotes are structures that are located along the parade route. They are basically raised platforms that have been made into clubs/bars. You can hang out inside and look down as the parade goes by. This is the safest option to watch Carnaval, as you have to pay to enter and there is security to make sure that the people inside are safe. I wish I had some pictures to post of these structures because some of them are amazing! But I don't want to take my camera out on the street in these days leading up to Carnaval because there is a lot more crime happening right now.
*Tons of tourists arriving. Everywhere you look you see folks walking around who are not from here. The influx will continue for the next few days.
*Prices rising. Everything doubles or triples in value during Carnaval. I think that some folks make all their money for the year during this week.
*Vendors sleeping on the streets to reserve their places to sell stuff. This started about a week ago. I saw a bunch of folks with coolers, chairs, etc sleeping on the sidewalks in Barra. They have to stay there or someone else claims their spot. And Vilma said that there is definitely fighting that happens in the race to claim the best location to sell beer, etc.
*More cops. I'm surprised that the police are actually trying to make their presence known, but I have seen more of them patrolling around. Does it make a difference? I don't think it makes much of a dent in the crime problem leading up to and during Carnaval.
*More robbers. See above.
*More traffic jams. The neighborhoods where Carnaval will take place are filled with big trucks hauling supplies, which slows down the rest of the normal traffic. I hear lots of horn honking going on.
*More stress. Salvador is known for those t-shirts that say "No Stress". Well I think that is for all the other weeks of the year besides Carnaval. Everyone is stressed out by all of the stuff I've listed above.
The question...will I be participating in any Carnaval activities this year? Well, I might go out tomorrow night on the street by my house. The first night is the mellowest, and I went out last year. But after that I am not going out. I don't want to pay money for a Camarote or Bloco and it's not safe to stay on the street (in the "pipoca" as they call it). Let the festivities begin and I'll be enjoying a chill week relaxing at home.