Posted: February 19, 2012 by Ben Weber in English
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Carnaval time in Brazil is a period of four days or so of pretty much constant partying and drinking in the streets. The country pretty much shuts down, with the better-known Carnaval parties in cities like Rio, Salvador, Olinda attracting millions of tourists. I went to Rio last year, not to the Sambodromo where the massively multi-coloured televised parade spectaculars go through, but to one of the “blocos” of the street Carnaval where there were just thousands of people dancing away to a band playing samba and various types of music at the head, leading us all on our merry way through the roads.  Away from these Carnaval hubs, there are also plenty of smaller but still fantastically traditional parties in the streets of other towns which maybe not so well-known for foreign tourists, but are still renowned for the colours and creativity of the peoples.

We are in São Paulo where there are still pretty impressive competitions between samba schools at the local Sambodromo. However, the city is not as famous for Carnaval as Rio for a good reason. The street Carnaval can be described as lacking a lot of the flare that its neighbouring city holds, and it is widely accepted that the city becomes much quieter during the period with the majority of people fleeing from the place to go to carnaval in the country towns or to the beach to relax. The city itself never really ceases to be the massive grey metropolis that it really is. The highways leaving the city transform from constantly busy to ridiculously overcrowded by 4pm on Friday afternoon and the one hour trip to the coastal region can transform to a 6-8 hour epic. A couple of colleagues went to Rio, but decided to drive or get the bus at around 1am to try to avoid the worst of it all. Hopefully they made it with not too much delay.

Not that I am complaining about São Paulo (too much) or that I would rather be in Rio where things are slightly more animated… but we are here with lots of things to do and we want and have to do them! After three days, we were back to the climbing wall yesterday, and it was good to be back, and we will be back again today. Am feeling slightly bad about those three days away from the place, though each day missed was unavoidable: the first night and I met with a couple of old colleagues to discuss the project and how it is going to happen with sponsorship and media etc; the second we met our nutritionist; and then on the third night a good friend (and now former colleague) had his leaving do, and it wasn’t something I wanted to miss considering I had missed lots of other nights out due to this project and this would probably be the last time for a very long time. We do need, however, to make up for the time missed…

…And the time that will be missed from our physical preparations in the future: We should hopefully have our first newspaper interview coming up soon – hopefully the first of many, which will also take time; then there is the small matter of sponsorship and having all the meetings with potential sponsors (got a short list of 400 companies or so, which we would like to expand a bit further..!), as well as time that will need to be spent organizing the logistics of this project.

When we said to friends that we were staying in São Paulo for this time, they looked at us as if we were slightly crazy party-poopers. However, not enjoying carnaval as we might have done otherwise is ultimately a small sacrifice and is worth it in every way imaginable: I know I won’t be regretting in a couple of years time when we leave São Paulo about the time that we are spending on this project instead of doing things like this. As I commented on in a previous article, this is a full-time job.

A little of what we are missing in the Rio street carnaval:

A little tired...

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