Overwhelmed trying to figure out Salvador carnaval?
All of these famous groups playing, but … surely you can’t just show up? How do you get into these viewing stages? What time do things start? Why is everyone dressed in the same clothes?
Unfortunately, the carnaval websites in Brazilian Portuguese don’t really help — even with the aid of Google Translate. Or, maybe you got to the point where you are ready to buy, but the site won’t accept your US address format. And … what is a CPF?
I totally feel your pain, and I was you just a few years ago.
I remember landing in Salvador for my first carnaval — full of excitement to finally be a part of this ginormous event I had heard so much about. My Brazilian Portuguese was iffy, but I had been to Salvador twice before — once, just two months earlier — and knew I could figure it out.
Little did I know just how wrong I was.
My first morning I went to meet a girlfriend from the US who was also attending her first carnaval. A local friend of ours said that we needed “fantasia” (Portuguese for costumes) so we went to the lower city and bought masks and feather boas. We showed up on one of the carnaval circuits with our costumes, pleased as punch with ourselves.
But our pride quickly turned to dismay when we realized that this was not what was meant by fantasia (costumes) — we actually needed to buy specific clothes from the group that function as admission tickets. As you can tell, we eventually sorted it out and had a FANTASTIC time, but I became acutely aware that without a good working knowledge of Salvador and Brazilian Portuguese, carnaval is really hard to navigate.
If you have been reading and nodding along thinking, “this will totally be me,” I would love to help.