chasing carnival

Rio Grande Travel Blog

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distant, shrinking mountains seen from the dunes

We´ve been on the road for over 6 month now, since Rio de Janeiro we´ve ridden over 2000 km with only 5 days of, from Torres we raced south -450 km in 4 days- and just before carneval we clocked up 10000 km. At times it´s difficult for me to combine being a long distance cyclist with my aim of being a nice girlfriend; Exhaustion is wicked, It sneaks up on us and we don´t know it was the cause until after we´ve argued! So, just as well that this, most southern state of Brazil is flat! The beaches are endless and the countryside consists of equally endless fields; very much wide sky country...

We cycled from beachtown to beachtown until our road ran out, then we just cycled on the beach. It was supposed to be a shortcut but a wrong turn added 50 km to our day.

A passing face at carneval
30 km of it on a corrigated dirttrack. Luckily back on the BR 101 we found it had changed; From being a ruleless motorway in the north it has become a countryroad with kneedeep potholes, connecting villages that have become smaller and much further appart. The houses are wodden, ancient and with tiny terracces dotted in the middle of the green amidst cows and horses. The gouchos (cowboys of Rio grande du Sul) use horses to tend their cattle. Eventually the pineforrests took over from the fields, the road smoothed out and the ride was perfect. In amongst all this it felt like we were a lot further away in a different time and it was beautifull.

Rio Grande maches this tranquil world: It is a city that seems to have forgotten it´s purpose and the peacefullness of the surroundings appears to have sneaked in and turned all city noises off.

Marcio, Mario, Junior, Daren, Mageli, Clara, Lucas and Matheus.
No people, no cars, no noise, no carneval. Just old colonial buildings silently wondering were all the people went that are supposed to light their dark windows.

However rumour had it that 20 km further south, on the worlds longest beach, carnival would be happening in a small town called Casino. We rested up in hotel Paris -a colonial building with endless corridors and magnificent breakfast, before continuing our search for a good carnival. On arrival we found there was no accomodation left and stayed on a campsite which was more like a family festival site. Jampacked, families going about their daily buisness, seemingly merging to one big family as they all chated over cooking, dishes, in showerques etc.... I had high hopes as I have only been to one carnival before.

Beatriz,me, Danielle and Daren
This was in Padstow in the UK; Moody spectators wached as 10 angry farmers were paraded past us street traders, ready to kill us with their hay forks. No fun at all! Carneval has roots in pegan traditions but now it´s a celebration of excess before the long fast. Whilst padstow carnival only managed to celebrate the sin of prejudice -which i doubt they then fasted from-, Casino carnival celebrated life, love and excess in style. The deafening noise of sambadrums, trumpets and  tamburines was magic. All nights chaotic parades of musicians and dancers pushed down the mainstreet with hundreds of people following, all bobbing up and down to the samba rythms. The local caiparinhas were mindblowingly strong and surrounded by music, happiness and tons of men in drag i was flying!

As i crashlanded the following day we were resqued by Beatrice and her family and Junior and his family and their friends. They invited us to lunch and then promtley adopted us. "You must eat all your meals with us" Junior proclaimed. So lunch extended to a daytrip: The camping and party atmosphere is extended to the beach as people drive on the beach, park the cars cars for shade and music and are bbq-ing and chilling out everywhere. We drove 14 km along, all packed in the back of an open pickup, to an old shipwreck were we sunbathed and played football and then headed back for supper and carnival. The next day we had breakfast together followed by a fabulous bbq. As the families were leaving Juniors mother in law, Clara,  and her daugther, Magelli,  got tearfull and we were given hats as presents. When i told Junor how at home they had made us feel he explaned the philosophy that they so truely lived by. "We are al the same, all one and we must teach the children this." Most of us claim to believe in equality and kindness, or our religion claims it for us but these people actualy actively act on this belief with their whole heart and thereby create a more beautifull life. One to learn for me...


Rob-drew says:
Dearest Tati keeping us amused in the depths of winter uk style. Keep safe.
Posted on: Mar 01, 2009
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distant, shrinking mountains seen …
distant, shrinking mountains seen…
A passing face at carneval
A passing face at carneval
Marcio, Mario, Junior, Daren, Mage…
Marcio, Mario, Junior, Daren, Mag…
Beatriz,me, Danielle and Daren
Beatriz,me, Danielle and Daren
Rio Grande
photo by: roadtrampz