Carnival 2007 Chaos: Day 3
Salvador da Bahia, Brazil
Carnival, Day 3
I awoke relatively early, intending to bus home to my apartment in the Historic Center this day, but I was easily convinced to do otherwise…
Brodie awoke to find me watching last night's Carnival highlights on television, remote in my right hand, sipping on a cold Carnival with my left. That pretty much set the tone of the afternoon right there.
We hung out in the apartment for some time, laughing about events of the previous evening, exchanging opinions on circuits, women, thieves, and blocos. The television now showing the live events unfolding on the street a few blocks away, we decided to go back out and see what type of mischief we could get ourselves into.
We only had a few hours to run around and get back to the apartment—Christoph, the German friend of Brodie's (also living in Japan) would be arriving from the airport to take his spot as the 2nd occupant in the apartment. In the meantime, we would play.
Back in front of the Farol da Barra (Barra's Lighthouse) we found a crazy crowd of blocos already dancing their way down the street—although significantly more sober than what was scene the evening prior. We were in great spirits, and enjoyed flirting and beer-bargaining our way through hoards of smiling people.
The daylight scene in Barra can be enjoyably intense, but I vividly remembered getting that WOW feeling the night before—that sensation where you need to stop moving and focus on processing the images in front of you.
Easily one of the best purchases made during the Carnival happened this afternoon—a pair little red devil horns for my head. Lord, I thought I got attention before, but these things went perfectly with my style… actual visible horns for my blond head—fallen angel turned naughty little devil.
As we danced in the street I noticed some happy man squeezing liquor into Brodie's mouth from a water bottle—coming over and doing the same to me. The drink must have been most fire water—burning as it scored its way towards my stomach. Moments later I though: Shit. We've just been drugged. But moments later saw him squeezing off shots for local Brazilian bloco rope workers and several other non-targets. No worries.
Time blurred by, and with the setting sun appeared a truck with a beautiful Afro-Brazilian woman atop it, the pretty thing wearing absolutely nothing but the body paint on her skin. Teased enough for one afternoon, we headed back to the apartment to welcome Christoph to Salvador.
As we're waiting for Christoph to arrive, Brodie says to me: You get two girls up to this apartment (in the next 30 minutes), and you drink for free for the rest of Carnival. I look at him—Done.
I grabbed the caipirinha ingredients that we had just purchased and headed back to the supermarket at the corner of his apartment building. I knew damn well how to make this drink (it's the national cocktail), but I played the ignorant tourist and chatted a bunch of girls up—most giggling and running off when I ultimately invited them up for some additional clarifying help and a drink on the house.
I eventually had a pair willing to go, but the quality was lacking substantially, and decided I'd rather go back alone than bring the two up just to collect on Brodie's wager (see what a nice guy I am?).
I walked through the door and Christoph (who had arrived while I was playing downstairs) greeted me warmly—my reputation already proceeding me (thanks to e-mails from Brodie and his reading of Travelvice). Tasty Carnivals were prepared and consumed, and with a quick motion my horns were adorned and we were out the door.
Christoph was new to the circuit, but this was round three for Brodie and I. He would later described watching us smile, wink, and kiss as we worked the crowd, and used entertaining methods of non-verbal communication.
I had awoken after the first night out with Brodie to shredded vocal cords. I was yelling so much that night I could barely speak the next morning, and had since adopted hand and facial gestures that practically removed the need for me to speak (especially with women). More on the wildly successful flirting techniques later.
The three of us couldn't have been mixed up in the crowd for 30 minutes before Christoph and I lost a very intoxicated Brodie. He was wearing these big white Indian feathers on his head, so you'd think I'd be able to spot him, but no dice. Christoph and I kept weaving and dancing through the madness.
Then, directly in front of me, smiles from familiar faces—the people from my apartment. The look of shock and joy on their faces was warming, and as we jumped, danced, and celebrated in our reunion, Brodie appeared out of nowhere. This was the first the apartment folks had seen of me since I stepped out of the door on the first night of Carnival, having never returned.
Everyone was screaming and shouting and jumping and drinking and dancing—joy dripping out our bodies with every bead of sweat—when the most lackluster of things happened: My sandal broke.
These aren't you ordinary cheapie flip-flops, but a very comfortable pair of Reef sandals that were less than two months old (and delivered to Buenos Aires by a friend and co-worker of my father). I had jumped fiercely when someone happened to be standing/landing on my foot, and that was the end of it. My entire Carnival wardrobe was disposable, except for these sandals—I was heartbroken and barefoot.
I had thought about buying a pair of cheap thongs for the event, but the rubber on the inexpensive variety gives me blisters on the tops of my feet. …and now I was in trouble, as I had to participate in the event without the mobility I was accustomed to, on overwhelmingly questionable ground.
The apartment crowd disppeared—as did Brodie. Christoph and I were together for less than 30 minutes when I turned around after kissing some girl to find that the man had up and vanished from my side without a trace. No tap on the shoulder or eye contact, he just walked away.
Christoph later told me that he left because she didn't have a friend for him—baffling me that he wasn't in the wingman mindset. I told him that her company was fleeting and without value, whereas his was not. The scene is crazy, and it's very enjoyable to have someone by your side to share experiences with and watch your back—the foundation of a friend/wingman. Besides, he and Brodie had the only keys to their apartment, and without either of them I was forced to find my way out of Barra with a bare foot.
The girl was worth hanging onto for a bit, but the trouble of pushing through the crowds was starting to wear on me. Pickpockets had been rampant all evening, testing my patience and tweaking my nerves.
People were annoyingly grabbing at my little horns (which I promptly removed after too many attempts from a particular crowd), and then one thief had the audacity to steal the broken sandal out of my pants—forcing me to search for it in the street amongst the chaos and garbage.
For one reason or another I thought a restaurant/bar on the beach would provide a temporary reprieve—apparently forgetting about the litter box condition of the sand in my agitated state—slowly making my way with the Brazilian towards an access point.
I'm at the top of the landing of some concrete stairs, getting ready to turn right and head down, when I catch yet another guy fishing in my pocket. We make eye contact and I give him a dirty/pissed look, and push him off with my shoulder. Nano-seconds later another does the same thing from the opposite side of me, and that was it—the straw that broke the camel's back. The specific memory of what happened in those brief following seconds that caused the situation to escalate is missing from my brain, but I can recall the events thereafter.
I quickly came to realize that there were three of them—thugs, about my age—at arms length from each other on my left, front, and right.
A punch is thrown—I dodged it completely. I counter to the guy directly in front of me with a left-hook that doesn’t connect. My right hand still grasping my busted sandal and little devil horns—my brain forgetting to drop them to free up my stronger hand.
Another fist thrown at me, connecting squarely on my left jaw. Then another, a moment later, slamming into my head above the ear from a different punk. With each strike my vision bursts into nothing but pure white for a split second, like a lighting bolt clapping down in front of me. I don't falter—all they're doing is making me more upset. They look at each other, seemingly confused by the sight of me (standing, unwavering) after the blows, and wisely decide to split before another round started up (most likely involving the police and their batons this time).
I spent a few minutes down on the beach cooling off, away from the street scene. I hated walking in the urine-soaked sand with my single bare foot, not knowing what else was lying in wait (glass, a needle, …who knows). The 30-minute walk home would be worse—God only knows what combinations of excrement and dangers my soleless foot would come in contact with.
The pushing and shoving, the bruised and filthy feet, the broken sandal, the missing friends (who had the only keys to the apartment), the thieves, the fight, the headache, the throw-away local girl on my arm—I was done.
I retreated to Brodie's apartment building, even though I had no key. It was always a possibility someone was there, and the last thing I wanted to do was go roaming out of the festival zone to search/claw for a cab with a missing sandal.
The doorman let me in, and I spent the next hour or more waiting in the stairwell next to his door. I was in a pretty foul mood when the two came home, discovering Brodie was pretty pissed himself—his upper-lip already beginning to swell from a fight that he got tangled up in.
Brodie's night found him twice on the ground, in a mobile police station, and at a hospital. Somehow he fell with a teenager who had his hand in his pocket, and the police stepped in and swooped them up. He watched the little punk begin to sob as the troopers dismissed him.
Another incident came when a fight erupted next to him, and he was pulled in by proximity. Sometimes people take advantage of the fights to punch and/or rob the tourists. Brodie tells me he got tangled up in the mess, receiving a good number of kicks and punches. Someone whacked him something fierce in the lip, and he would've had a medic tend to him at the hospital, but was turned away when he refused to pay BR$50 to enter the complex.
There was a lot of tension in the apartment as we went to sleep. Brodie was naturally pissed at his night, and with the memento that could very well keep him from receiving any more fun Carnival kisses. Christoph had taken a fall sometime in the evening (attempting drunken capoeira), and of course I was imposing myself for the third night in a row at their apartment.
I closed my eyes, wondering what we'd look and feel like in the morning…