Tuesday March 4, 2014
Baianas greet a newly arrived tourist earlier today. Photo by Tatiana Azeviche/Setur. View full-size
Three cruise ships with 10,000 passengers arrived in Salvador today, part of a total 15,000 tourists arriving for Carnival celebrations at the Salvador port. About 526,000 tourists were expected in Salvador this Carnival season. It is estimated they would spend R$1 billion.
The MSC Orchestra was the first to arrive this morning. Other ships which made Salvador their port of call on Fat Tuesday were the Sovereign of the Seas and the Costa Fascinosa.
The group welcoming tourists included baianas in traditional attire, a band, and even Bahia's newly appointed Tourism Secretary, Pedro Galvão, who succeeded Domingos Leonelli last January 13.
According to Bahia's Tourism Secretariat, 87% of the tourists in Salvador for Carnival are from Brazil, especially from Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Distrito Federal and Sergipe. International visitors come mainly from Argentina, the US, Italy, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.
Salvador is still going to host some great events in its post-Carnival season, for example the Ilê Aiyê Ressaca, ("Hangover", or post-Carnival party) this weekend at the world-famous bloco afro's headquarters.
Sunday March 2, 2014
Toca Raul playing tonight. Photo by Walter Mesquita/Riotur. View full-size
Fundição Progresso, one of Rio's top cultural venues, hosts stellar musical events year round, and greatly contributes to the quality of Carnival in Rio with its annual marchinha contest and several shows and parties. Tonight, as a Carnival ball takes place at their headquarters (a former foundry, or fundição), there's free Carnival at the stage they set up for the festivities at Praça Tiradentes in central Rio.
Besides groups formed in their own musical workshops - Tum Tá Que Tá, Afluente do Céu and Bloco d'O Passo na Rua - the stage is featuring some of the top blocos in Rio de Janeiro Carnival. The performances opened yesterday and continue through Fat Tuesday. Rio Maracatu and Casuarina performed after Tum Tá Que Tá last night: tonight, Toca Rauuul, a Carnival bloco which celebrates the music of Raul Seixas, will start, followed by the great singers Teresa Cristina and Moyseis Marques, who many travelers probably know from Lapa nights.
Tomorrow, Afluente do Céu choir will open the stage with their unique take on marchinhas and other Carnival classics. Next, Banda Fundição, created specially for Fundição's first marchinha contest in 2006, will play hits from the constest as well as Carmen Miranda, Braguinha, Emilinha Borba, Chiquinha Gonzaga, João Roberto Kelly, Lamartine Babo and Braguinha classics. Cordão do Boitatá (feat. Luiza Dionísio and Aurea Martins) will close, with a version of their own street Carnival party - a great opportunity if you couldn't be there for it in pre-Carnival or this morning.
On Fat Tuesday, Bloco d'O Passo na Rua will debut in Rio Carnival and get everyone dancing. Orquestra Popular Céu na Terra will be next, bringing their bright costumes, puppets, percussion, acoustic guitars and brass instruments, with vocals by Bianca Leão and Alan Rocha. The stage season's will close with a Banga! If you missed the amazing Bangalafumenga this morning, here's one more chance to party with them before Carnival is over.
Fundição Progresso - Rio Marchinhas
Praça Tiradentes at 5 p.m. through Fat Tuesday
Photo of courtesy of Fundição Progresso
Friday February 28, 2014
You've arrived in Rio for Carnival and suddenly you realize that you really, really want to wear a costume to the bloco parades. You sure didn't plan ahead like these guys in the Suvaco do Cristo pre-Carnival parade a few days ago. If you're with friends or family, you might have decided it would be cool to dress up with a theme.
You might be hoping to buy a cute, fun ready-to-wear something. Some blocos, such as Cordão do Boitatá, which paraded in pre-Carnival and will have its big Carnival party this Sunday at 9 a.m. at Praça XV (Centro), are big on dressing up.
You bet revelers who "went out" (paraded, in bloco lingo) with Desliga da Justiça, which is exclusively pre-Carnival, have saved their costumes for one of the 400+ street parades which will take place this Carnival and post-Carnival in Rio.
Simpatia é Quase Amor will be back in Ipanema this Sunday at 4 p.m. Here's some inspiration from their pre-Carnival parade.
The primal rescue center for last-minute Carnival shopping in Rio is Saara, where stores selling costumes and accessories till about lunch time tomorrow include Buenas Festas (till 1) and Babado da Folia (till 2).
Hopefully Divinas Axilas (www.facebook.com/AtelieDivinasAxilas), Suvaco do Cristo-supported NGO, will open their shop tomorrow in Botafogo. I couldn't call them to confirm early enough today. On their Facebook page, you can see a photo of the Frida Kahlo and mariachi costumes their artists Tiago Luna and Cris Dutra created for Suvaco's pre-Carnival parade. Beautiful!
Face painting is an easy way to change your looks for your street Carnival experience.
No costume? No worries. Go as yourself. Just carry the bare essentials (I recommend leaving your passport and credit cards in the hotel's safe deposit box and bringing just another form of ID, such as your driver's license, and cash). And have a blast!
Find Your Bloco:
All photos courtesy of Riotur/ Rio de Janeiro Tourism Secretariat. View more photos of Rio Carnival 2014, often updated in real time, on their official Flickr.
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Many savvy Brazil beach lovers have already discovered the wonders of Morro de São Paulo and Boipeba. Beauty everywhere, laid-back people watching, beach hopping, bar hopping: there's enough to keep you enthralled for many seasons in a row.
What still deserves and quietly awaits more attention is the historic center of Cairu, the archipelago town of which Morro and Boipeba are districts. Make time in your explorations of lovely Bahia's Dende Coast for the old, subdued streets of this area on Cairu Island with history dating back to the 16th century. The main attraction, undoubtedly, is the St. Anthony Church and Convent (photo above).
Among its treasures is this crucifix in tile inside the cloister.
Central Cairu is on my mind often when I think of places with potential for tourism. There are colonial houses begging to be turned into lovely pousadas and restaurants. You will be hearing more about the traditions and celebrations in the historic area here on About.com Brazil Travel.
Today, I've been thinking about Cairu even more than usual because one year ago, on February 26, Friar Lucas Dolle, head priest at St. Anthony's, died in a car crash at the age of 83. A beloved spiritual leader to his community, German Friar Dolle had more than 50 years of ministry in Brazil and was deeply committed to the preservation of the St. Anthony Church and Convent. He kindly guided us journalists on a press trip to Cairu around the magnificent complex and shared a wealth of information about it with us a few months before he passed away. The church and convent are now under the guidance of Friar Augusto Dirksmeyer and Friar Hilton Francisco da Cruz Botelho. Friar Hilton worked with Friar Dolle - I didn't get a chance to meet him, but I understand he's the one who takes care of that bounty of lush plants and flowers in the inner courtyard.
Another beautiful church to visit in Cairu is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, which also has the best sea views.
Cairu holds its cultural traditions dearly. One of them is the coronation of Afro-Brazilian royals every Epiphany, a custom dating to colonial times under the Portuguese, tied to e 15th-century episode of resistance to the colonizers in Congo history and a symbolic affirmation of Afro-Brazilian heritage and pride.
The city's patron saint is St. Benedict, and every January there is a great celebration in his honor.
During Carnival and post-Carnival, however, the core of the action is on neighboring Tinharé Island. This year, Carnagamboa (March 1 to 4), the festivities in Gamboa, will feature four bands every night. And Morro will be crowded with tourists during its famous Ressaca ("Hangover"), or post-Carnival holiday.