Salvador- Carnaval Party & Violence

Salvador- Carnaval Party & Violence

2 Mar 2015

I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it.

Intelligent SurfI have been stabbed at a party and have had two different bar fights end up with guns being pointed at me. I live in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. While not a meathead looking for a fight, I am not a complete stranger to making bad decisions. Carnaval in Salvador is the first time in a long time, I thought "Oh Crap, I'm about to get my a$s kicked".  As a fraternity brother once said, "Live for the Story".  

First night, I wrote about in an earlier post. Great fun, but ended up getting frisked spread eagle in the middle of the street with guns drawn on me by the Military Police. In the morning, everyone in the hostel swapped stories.

  • A German girl was punched in the face and bloodied up, while trying to stop a guy from ripping her necklace off her neck.
  • An English girl was telling us that a guy was shot at the party she was at.  But 30 minutes later, everyone was dancing again like nothing happened.

Stories like that were plentiful.

Group Pic2 shrunk

Second night, a small group of us were waiting for our party (called a Bloco) to start and decided to hang out with locals at a street party. About 5 minutes in, we are crammed butt cheek to crotch in a throng of thousands. We immediately start feeling people try and pick our back pockets. I drop my beer on the ground and grab both my front pockets in a death grip. About 10 minutes in, people start, for lack of a better term, "aggressively dancing". Imagine a mosh pit with better music, but multiply the level of intensity and people by 10X. My group wisely decides to get out, but find ourselves about 200 people deep from where we started.

The crowd starts getting more aggressive.  Guys are trying to forcibly rip my wrists away from my pockets. I am defending my pockets, while getting pinballed by people crashing, jumping, throwing elbows, and shoving into our group to separate us. You have to make the call to either get smacked around and elbowed in the head or defend yourself and lose whatever you have in your pockets.  

My decision was to tuck my head, drop shoulders, and beast-mode out. Guys are clawing and grabbing at me, while I crash through the pit legs pumping and churning. I feel a hand down the front of my underwear, as someone is trying to get at my money that I hid in my junk. So, 2nd night in a row, I get an involuntary handy from a dude. Awesome.

My group finally breaks through to the relative safety of a side street. Joseph tells me that 5 guys were about to jump me from behind, but suddenly stopped short. I guess a guardian angel was looking out for me.

We do a quick inventory. No injuries, just scratches, and only things stolen were non valuables. Adrenaline crashing and hearts still racing, we group hug and Tania​ offers to buy everyone a round of beers. She reaches into her travel wallet, which is tied to her belt, zipped up, and tucked deep into her front pocket---Empty. Someone was able to get at it, unzip it, steal about 100 bucks, and politely put it back in her pocket.

The rest of the night was filled with dancing, drinking, craziness, and vicious beat downs. Police with no regard or empathy swinging baseball bat sized batons down on anyone and everyone. Peep the video for an idea of the fun and chaos that is Salvador Carnaval.

Pictures are few, as most of us left our cameras, wallets, and watches back at the hostel for safety. Special thanks to Petra, Céline, Idan, Claire, Tania, and Joseph​, as I used their pics for the video.



blococarnaval em salvador

Roughly speaking, a big truck, driven very slowly, loaded with thousands of watts of sound equipment and with a band playing on the top. Surrounding the truck, there is a big rope carried by hundreds of security guards. This structure is organized by a private company, called “bloco”. Each Bloco sells a different T-shirt called “Abadá”. This T-shirt is your entrance ticket and allows you to get inside the rope area. The biggest Blocos have over four thousand people, dancing, drinking, kissing and having fun during Salvador Carnival. 

Marco Sison

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Marco Sison