So we decided to pay a visit to the town in which we intended to spend Carnaval to scope out places to stay. Olinda was said to be more traditional and it takes place in the streets and everyone is free to join the party. Unlike in Rio and in Salvador where you have to pay huge amounts to sit in a stand and be a spectator or follow a popular rock group situated on top of a truck with giant speakers around, each group competing to drown the other one out, of course.
So we made our election via Brad´s innovative idea of searching on line. He had found a guy named Glauber Von something or other offering to rent a room in his house during the 6 days of Carnaval.Everything is rented as a 6 or 7 day package for Carnaval and the prices are more than doubled, but what can you do? Glauber seemed the best deal at 6 days for about $600 for a cramped and stifling room with a shared bathroom.... so it turned out. Before consenting to renting his room however we wanted to check things out...to see what else there was in the town.
The first night we spent in a very fancy hotel Los Cuatro Cantos at about $50 a night it was a great bargain. It had antique furniture and air conditioning and cable TV. AND a pool. We knew we couldn´t afford it during Carnaval and so we indulged for one night. Breakfast was the best part! A really great buffet with pancakes, fruit, the traditional cake, cereal, bacon,and other traditional dishes. It was the best breakfast we´ve had anywhere so far and Brazil generally serves really great breakfasts included in the price of the hotel.Alas, we could not stay for our second night. Instead we stayed at Glauber´s to test out his room to see if we really wanted to stay there. In the meantime we looked around for other places to stay at. It turned out that there was a place just across the street that had a larger room and a really high powered fan and free use of the kitchen and TV and what not. For a cheaper price plus one day extra.We felt rather bad for Glauber, however, because since we spent the night there he thought that we wanted to stay there during Carnaval,although we had told him what we were there to do.
His Mom was so nice to us sharing her special French desert recipe with us and chatting away to us about everything from Carnaval to pizza sauce recipes. She was going to sell pizzas during Carnaval and so to lessen the blow of not staying there we told her we would be sure to come back and try her pizza.
The second morning there they were having the inauguration celebration of the Carnaval marking the official beginning of the season even though the actual Carnaval wasn´t until February 12.This spectacle is the only time during the Carnaval in Olinda where other people from around Brazil are permitted to perform. So they come from major Carnaval centres like Salvador and Rio. It consisted of giant trucks with various musical groups atop them with giant speakers as I described earlier. They parade in file down the street starting at 11am and goes until the next morning. People were already out in force at 11am, drinking beer and partying. There many men dressed in drag, gay or not, having fun. It appeared to be the tradition...they would look at you and make lude gestures trying to get a rise out of you.Most people were just dressed in the usual Carnaval attire...a mask, a funny flower, blinking horns, funny hats, ect. And they danced around crazily, following their favourite truck and trying to ignore the other ones several feet ahead of the last. We grew bored of it rather quickly, unfortunately. We didn´t really like any of the music playing and it was really hot out. We thanked our lucky stars we had decided not to do Carnaval in Salvador, where following the musical trucks is the main event.
That night we took a bus to Salvador...the South American centre for black culture.Looking forward to an interesting time.