THE BIGGEST STREET PARTY OF THE PLANET: OLINDA CARNIVAL

I think of , “Every mortal must experience a carnival at least once…” In the company of different melodies emanating from every corner, I had been drifting away having been swept away and stuck in a crazy crowd most of whom were in costumes.

The carnival in Brazil is something like this. What you hear and see are insufficient to understand the carnival, and feeling the atmosphere of the biggest street party of the planet with hundreds and thousands of people singing and dancing together could only be possible by experience.

Do not object to stating, “Where else could someone go for a carnival except Rio de Janeiro?” If you happen to go to Olinda, a historical coast village located in Pernambuco region in Brazil, you will better understand how having a carnival in a small place could offer you a colorful and artless world. Indeed, while going to Olinda, I was dreaming of a carnival that is not so touristic, away from the advent of technology and where I can be lost in crowds. In reality, Olinda has the sincerity that is difficult to find in mega cities of the country teemed with such kind of festivals. In the picturesque and colonial town dating back to the 16th century, it is not difficult to enjoy the carnival while keeping up with the daily rhythm of the town without staying out of life.

Settled around a hill covered with trees, Olinda deserves to have the reputation for being one of the most beautiful and well-preserved colonial town of Brazil with its bohemian neighbourhoods, art galleries, artisan workshops, museums, and churches of colonial period. With its historic center on a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, winding streets lined with colorful houses, and with its more impressive appearing view above the hills, trees, church towers and tiled roofs, Olinda is a special place.

It’s easy to walk in
It is both easy and tasteful to walk in Olinda. Though it is not culturally satisfying, walking in cobblestone roads of the beautiful town by visiting some churches and and unpretentious museums strengthens your intimacy regarding this place and its people. It is also possible to run across young people from different countries of Southern America coming here to sell some jewellery and to visit the continent with this little income.

The enthusiasts of museum could visit the Museu de Arte Sacra de Pernambuco to see sacred objects and old and new photos of Olinda. Another museum worth seeing is the Museu de Arte Contemporanea, an old prison from the 18th century used by Catholic Church during inquisiton. In Igreja da Misericordia built in 1540, there are Portuguese tiles and gilded carvings.

Giant puppets
In the course of Olinda Carnival, you come across huge puppets called “Boneco.” Men carrying Bonecos made from paper pulp roam the streets of Olinda at specific days and times. Makers and carriers of these puppets are specialized in this regard. To have a closer look at these huge puppets exhibited frequently during the carnival and to get informed about the history of the tradition Casa dos Bonecos (Boneco House) is a significant place. Art galleries and shops selling souvenirs are all in place in Mercado da Ribeira dating back to the 18th century. Mosteiro de Sao Bento, a monastery from the 16th century, is in vogue with the carvings on its chapel as well as the rites performed on sundays. It is also the first law school of Brazil.

11-day lasting carnival
Olinda is admittedly more colorful during the carnival period corresponding to february. Here, the carnival lasts for 11 days. Samba is organized at nights, bands playing Frevo with dancers parade in narrow streets. As Bonecos roam in Olinda in cheers for hours, carriers of these puppets are lauded like heros.

The best-known chief is here
During the carnival, not only entertainment spree is experienced, but also food. Though Brazilian cuisine is not so flashy, there’s a place in Olinda to think over your prejudices in this respect: Oficina do Sabor. I sat at one of the scenic tables in the restaurant of whose reputation I’ve heard and asked the waiter about the specialty of the chief, “Jerimum recheado com lagosta ao coco.” he replied. I looked up the keywords in the dictionary; pumpkin, lobster, coconut sauce… The dish made from pumpkin by filling inside with lobster cooked in coconut sauce might be one of the most special tastes of Brazilian cuisine. By cooking other seafood such as shrimps, crabs and calamari with different ingredients like ginger, grapes and peanuts and with exotic fruits like mango, the chief is cathing up delicious flavors.

INFORMATION
If you happen to go to Brazil, even if it is not during carnival, Olinda could be in the list of your destinations with its architecture and loveliness.

PHOTO BREAK
To have the most beautiful panoramic view of Olinda, climb up the hill, Alto de Se (Cathedral Hill).

SHOPPING
On Cathedral Hill, wood carving trinkets and jewellery made from fruit seeds are sold in the crafts bazaar.

DO NOT MISS IT OUT!
On Rua Saldanha Marinho street, huge puppets called Boneco are being exhibited.

TASTY BREAK
Seafood dishes cooked by the Chief Cesar Santos are honor of Brazil.