*the days aren’t actually in order, carnival lasts an entire week. I tried to go everyday and take pics, but living directly on a parade route and crashing at a friends place who lives directly on a crazier parade route made it hard. SO, I’m blogging about Carnival in three different installments because honestly, that’s all I remember.*
Campo Grande was packed to the brim last Tuesday night. All of the blocos culminated in the streets. Shuffling feet crushed beer cans as the faint smell of urine wafted in the air. I got to be in the midst of it; surprisingly safe from the street harassment that Carnival is known for when a woman walks unaccompanied. People were really nice, it was a party, as long as you were moving and dancing in the bloco, you were fine. There was also a lot of police, who walked through the large crowd like a gang whenever they pleased and searched young black men constantly. In fact the only violence I heard about over Carnival was the massacre of 15 young black in Cabula at the hands of the police. More on that story here.
I got to take a few pics on Olodum’s float, unfortunately I was late and only got the tail end of the show. The band members were accommodating and gracious.
I descended the air conditioned float back into the sea of fans and we all swayed down the street. I reached the front of the bloco where the dancers were performing a dance inspired by the last few days of Christ. In keeping with the Ethiopian theme, the dancers were dressed in white robes covered in coptic crosses. They lifted one man in the air as if he were Christ on the cross.
It was all very beautiful, but a little strange and AfroDisney as large balloons that read “Petrobras” and “Caixa” (a bank) loomed in the background. The media wary American in me is turning my nose up at the blatant and somewhat tacky display of the sponsorship. The practical side of me understands what sponsorship means. But still, watching the dancers dance, and seeing the huge balloons revolve to reveal the name of the oil company that’s sucking the Amazon of it’s oil but also responsible for much of the money that allows this country to develop it’s economy, made me remember how big tourism and “culture” is as an industry. Then I remembered, I’m American. Who am I to judge another country and the way it makes money?