The Storm before the Storm


We’re in Salvador de Bahia for Carnival. It’s just about to start, and in a normal world I’d talk about this being the calm before the storm – except this is carnival, so the partying in the streets has started early. And there’s been torrential rain on and off all day.

We arrived here very early yesterday morning after spending a week on the beach, first in the touristy but idyllic spot of Arraial d’Ajuda, and then in Itacare, which I first visited with Roland 10 years ago. It’s just as beautiful as I remembered, although the town is now huge compared to the small dirt track that was there before. On a couple of days, we trekked out to the fantastic Prainha beach, a 45 minute walk through the rainforest, past streams and alongside cliffs. The beach itself is a beautiful stretch of white sand surrounded by green rolling hills and palm trees – the most stunning coast we’ve been to since starting travelling. Hopefully the photos below will make you jealous!

We hadn’t known what to expect in Salvador, except that Carnaval here is meant to be the biggest in the world – millions of people, and many kilometres of parades (Rio is pretty short by comparison). I don’t think we’d quite prepared ourselves for the pre-festival atmosphere – the streets alive with people building stands and crash barriers, and the supermarkets packed high with beer. It feels a bit like Glastonbury the day before the punters get here – a race to get ready, and a sense of utter madness to come. The fairly small supermarket near us has lorries continually arriving to restock the beer, which is just as quickly leaving on flatbed trollies destined for beer sellers around the area. Each aisle has a line of beer crates 2m high down the middle, and there are teams of promoters from each brand trying to convince people to go with their deal. Right now, we can hear the echoes of the music starting in the distance, and the drumming starting up….

I guess we’d better go join them!