Carnaval (yes it’s spelt with three a’s in Portuguese) is a massive parade and party in Rio, right? Yes, that’s true, but it’s so much more than that because the whole of Brazil celebrates for the 5 nights / 4 days before Ash Wednesday (so Brits, when you were busy scoffing pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, that was the last day of carnaval over here). Read more official facts here or here.
My experience of carnaval was utterly different to the Sambadrome images from Rio (which I watched some of live on tv from my hotel room in Joao Pinheiro on Sunday night), since I was in central Brazil cycling across the state of Minas Gerais – see my previous blog post. Apologies for the poor quality photos taken on my phone, but here’s a glimpse of the carnaval venues that I visited:
BUT… my real experience of carnaval was with Kico’s family at his mother’s home in suburban Paracatu, where this celebration took place:
Imagine Christmas day without the presents, so the whole family getting together (with friends also calling by) to eat, drink and be merry, but for four days and in hot weather so you can all sit outside on the shade-covered patio with a bbq, fridge full of beer, paddling pool, sound system and fancy dress! Marvellous.
I didn’t take enough photos to do it justice, but here’s a few things that went on:
I can’t thank top man Kico and his wonderful family enough for making me feel so welcome, for a great time, and for all the lovely food and variety of drink (including beer, wine, cachaca, pisco, frangelico and absinthe!).
What is ‘carnaval’? Whatever kind of celebration/good time you want it to be.
PS. Kico also helped me map out my route towards Brasilia and then on to Salvador later, based on his great knowledge of cycle touring in Brazil (and elsewhere – check out his incredible Nova Origem adventure if you missed it before).