Entertainment

12 Reasons The Brazil Carnival Should Be On Your Bucket List

Forty days before Easter, Brazil draws in people from around the world to celebrate its biggest party: Carnaval. The Brazil Carnival is, without a doubt, one of the biggest events in the world, full of people wanting to live, eat and breathe the party atmosphere that takes over the country for a whole week. From the over the top costumes to its insanely fun block parties, it’s an event that should be on everyone’s bucket list and here’s why:

1. Brazilians are some of the friendliest people on earth.

Credit: Bee or bear /  Flickr

No matter where you go in the country, Brazilians are welcoming and warm. Most of the locals you’ll meet during the Brazil Carnival are generally accepting of tourists, but make sure you understand their playful, sometimes sarcastic, humor or you’ll be left out of the conversation.

2. It’s an authentic cultural experience.

Credit: Pré Carnaval /  Flickr

Although the Brazil Carnival has garnered worldwide fame, it still stays true to its original spirit. The celebrations begin on the Friday before Ash Wednesday and finish on that day, marking the beginning of Lent.

Credit: Orange Blur /  Flickr

Because of this, many Catholics abstain from consuming meat. The word carnival stems from carnelevare, or “to raise meat,” and refers to these days of epic celebration.

3. It’s considered the biggest party in the world.

Credit: @pearlluxe / Instagram

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Brazil Carnival is considered the world’s largest carnival. With parties happening day and night, the country comes together to celebrate in epic proportions.

Credit: Digital Image /  Flickr

It’s believed that almost 2 million people a day take part in the festivities and, in 2011, the Rio de Janeiro celebrations brought in an estimated 4.9 million people alone. From ticketed events to street parties, the country really goes wild with excitement.

4. There are celebrations scattered all throughout Brazil.

Credit: Encontro de Maracatus e Carnaval Mesclado /  Digital Image

Although the Rio de Janeiro carnival might be the most popular with foreigners, celebrations take place all around the country.

Credit: Partido Brasil Noreste /  Digital Image

From Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo to Salvador to Bahia, every region has a special way of celebrating during the Brazil Carnival, and each city brings a special something to the party. Whether it’s different music, costumes or events, you’re sure to be surprised no matter where you go.

5. Samba is KING!

Credit: Digital Image /  Flickr

One of the most popular music genres in the country, samba remains king of the carnaval. Once considered as slave music, the genre has developed over the years and is nowadays closely associated with the Brazil Carnival.

Credit:  @ticketriocarnaval / Instagram

Deeply rooted in African culture, street parades and special performances are all choreographed to the beat of the drums that enthuse dancers and spectators alike. It’s impossible to sit still once the music starts playing, and you’ll be shimmying along with the dancers before you’ve made it out of the hotel.

6. A visit to the Sambódromo might cost a small fortune…

Credit: Vila Isabel. Digital Image. Flickr. February 20, 2012.

Rio de Janeiro’s Sambódromo is arguably the most representative thing about the Brazil Carnival. The arena hosts the most iconic events, and the seats are filled to the brim with Cariocas (locals) and foreigners alike who want to catch a display of pure samba talent.

Credit: Vila Isabel /  Digital Image

That being said, scoring a ticket to the Sambódromo during the festivities is definitely not easy or cheap: It can set you back almost $1,600 for one of the “Luxury Suites”. With Carnival Sunday and Monday being the busier days, your best bet at snagging a ticket is on Saturday.

7. …but the shows are unbelievably worth it!

Credit: Mocidade 3 /  Flickr

Nonetheless, buying a ticket is definitely worth it for the sheer talent of the dancers alone. The dance shows are an incredible example of the work, money, and energy that go into preparing a performance of this caliber, and the performers leave it all on stage.

Credit:  @salgueiroraiz / Instagram

It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience, made all the better thanks to the energy of the locals who dance along too. Being at the Sambódromo is truly an immersion of culture, and it’s a must-do for anyone visiting Brazil at the time.

8. You can watch samba schools compete for a shot at the crown. 

 

Credit: Passista da Portela. Digital Image. Flickr. February 25, 2012.

More than a stage to show off their talent, the shows at the Sambódromo are also a competition – a very fierce one. Samba schools are similar to sports teams, and they compete against each other during carnaval to be crowned champion.

Credit: @carnavalsperj / Instagram

Samba schools are judged on their dances, music, costumes, and their parade float. Each performance lasts up to an hour and, depending on the size and fame of the school, can cost millions of dollars to organize and produce. Talk about high stakes!

9. The costumes are unlike anything else you’ll ever see.

Credit: @caarolinaribeeiro / Instagram

The Brazil Carnival has always been closely associated with scantily-clad women wearing huge headdresses and rhinestones that move to the rhythm of the music. While this might be true, there’s a lot more that goes into these outfits.

Credit: Purple for the Camera / Flickr

While part of the costume is sewn with a machine, most beads, feathers, and accessories are all usually made by hand. A typical carnival outfit can range anywhere from $200 – $1,500 depending on the detail and complexity of the attire. While it’s nice to feel like a local, we recommend going for the cheaper option: beads, wigs and maybe a few feathers. There’s no actual dress code, so don’t worry about not splashing out.

10. There’s plenty of Instagrammable moments.

Credit: @carnavalsp_ / Instagram

In today’s digital era, capturing the moment has become an essential part of our daily lives. If you went to the Brazil Carnival but didn’t post about it on social media, did you actually go? While the answer is obviously yes, there are still plenty of camera-worthy moments waiting to be captured.

Credit: @carnavalsp_ / Instagram

From the eccentric costumes to the street parties, passing through the giant parade floats and the iconic carnival-women, the Brazil Carnival is a photographer’s dream.

11. Missing out on blocos will give you serious fomo.

Credit: Munguzá do Zuza e Bacalhau do Batata /  Flickr

Even though the sambódromo might seem like the star of the show, there are plenty of other celebrations happening around the country that don’t require a ticket. Tourists and locals alike can show up to blocos, or block parties, wherever they are.

Credit: Bloco da Cidadania /  Flickr

These events usually involve a truck, huge speakers, and extremely loud samba music blasting through them. Being outside and on the street, these parties are generally more relaxed than the other carnival events, and usually, everything goes. Rio, for example, hosts no less than 587 blocos a year that cater to everyone:  it’s a party based around the principle of acceptance, love, and the desire to have a great freakin’ time.

12. It’s an experience you’ll always remember.

Credit: Bloco Eu acho é pouco /  Flickr

With all its colors, sounds and smells, the Brazil Carnival is truly a once in a lifetime event. If you’re one of the lucky ones that do get to be a part of it, take it all in — even the low moments. Keep an eye on your valuables, stay close to your travel buddies and stay aware of your surroundings. Carry only what you need for the day and make the most of it without having to worry about a case of curious fingers.

Puerto Vallarta Has Long Been An LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Destination And Here’s Why

Culture

Puerto Vallarta Has Long Been An LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Destination And Here’s Why

ThatGayGringo / Instagram

Puerto Vallarta is one of the favorite Mexican tourist destinations of the LGBT community. There are hotels, bars, nightclubs, beaches, and even drinks specifically for LGBT travelers, and due to the safety and welcoming environment for these guests, it is the first city in Mexico to receive the Gay Travel Approved distinction by GayTravel.com.

But why PV? What made Vallarta Mexico’s top gay destination?

Let’s start back at the beginning.

Credit: thatgaygringo / Instagram

In the south of Puerto Vallarta you will find the “Old Town,” also called “The Romantic Zone,” the tourist area favored by expats and foreigners who want to soak up local traditions. The Old Puerto Vallarta is also considered the gay neighborhood since 1980, when the gay community and retired Canadians and Americans bought land and properties in order to create gay-friendly businesses. Today there’s a wide variety of attractions with this focus, including bars, restaurants, stores, nightclubs, and both budget and boutique hotels.

In this zone is nestled the popular beach Playa de los Muertos, which, although not exclusively gay, for the last 20 years has been known as a gay-friendly beach (also called Blue Chairs, because of the many blue chairs placed by a gay resort which bears the same name), mainly in the high season, from November to March.

Why is this pristine beach the LBGT meeting point? Because the gay-friendly beachfront hotels in the area causes—and guarantees—a concentration of LGBT tourists, bringing a multicultural ambience where members of this community will be respected without discrimination. In the morning they can socialize and enjoy the party atmosphere, and in the afternoon walk holding hands under the dazzling sunset, in a romantic atmosphere free of hostility. Such is the high demand for LGBT-friendly vacation spots that the area has been extended to include the green chairs and as far as the north coast, in the elegant Oceano Sapphire Beach Club, owned by gays.

But it’s about more than just the beach.

Credit: David Stanley / Flickr

Unlike certain countries, laws against homosexuality never existed in Mexico. There is, however, a strong macho culture and religious influence which disapproves it—nonetheless the locals show respect. Under these circumstances, the growing community has led LGBT organizations to work to promote a change of culture in the pursuit of equality. Their work has gotten results: they have achieved recognition of gay rights, and implemented laws against the provocation and incitement of hate or violence against LGBTs, and also to guarantee equality in employment and public accomodation and services. Even more, in 2013 Puerto Vallarta legalized civil union between LGBT couples, followed by same-sex marriage in 2016.

This city organized its first Gay Pride March, and has hosted the Pink & Proud Women’s Party—the equivalent lesbian celebration—for the last four years, with assistance from the local Canadian and American communities. The multiple events in support of the LGBT community have marked out Puerto Vallarta as the “Mexican San Francisco.”

Now, there’s a giant and flourishing LGBTQ tourism industry that welcomes people from around the world.

Credit: Kristopher Roller / Unsplash

For the last 10 years, the number of LGBT visitors has increased in Puerto Vallarta and Jalisco, and in order to meet demand, the number of LGBT-friendly resorts and touristic attractions has also increased. Now three of every 10 hotels in Puerto Vallarta are LGBT-friendly, and most also offer weddings and other symbolic ceremonies.

Bars, nightclubs and other amenities are already focused on this market, and there are also tours—like the Gay VIP Bars Tour—and even drinks—like the Gay Tequila and the Gay Energy Drink—to make these guests feel extra welcome. As a result, Puerto Vallarta now hosts International LGBT Business Expos, with important conferences and events, including fashions shows, beach parties and music festivals to celebrate this booming market.

Puerto Vallarta remains the gateway to Mexico for many LGBTQ travelers.

Credit: kwhigam / Flickr

Some other cities have recognized the demand, and are now attempting to attract LGBT tourism to their destinations. Puerto Vallarta is not letting it happen: diverse businesses—no matter the sexual preference—are joining forces to create organizations to promote this targeted brand of tourism. The market gives consumers what they want, and they have identified this growing target and will not let it go.

Beyond the marketing, Puerto Vallarta became a platform to support gay rights, and the LGBT community knows it and feels welcome here. What really keeps the LGBT community hitting Puerto Vallarta is the activism, respect, and freedom they find in this beautiful paradise.

Indigenous Women Of Brazil Are Refusing To Keep Quiet Over The Country’s President’s Policies

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Indigenous Women Of Brazil Are Refusing To Keep Quiet Over The Country’s President’s Policies

Last week, hundreds of Indigenous women took to the streets to protest against the policies of Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. According to BBC, indigenous women occupied the building of Brazil’s health ministry in the capital of Brasília and demanded better healthcare for the Indigenous people of the country and called for an end to the destruction of the Amazon. 

It has been reported that about 300 Indigenous women condemned the proposed changes to women’s healthcare and deforestation in Brazil in a peaceful demonstration that lasted over 10 hours. 

The Indigenous women of the country were protesting, according to a tweet by AJ+,  “rollbacks on Indigenous rights and efforts to open up Indigenous lands to minding and agriculture.” AJ+ shared powerful images of Indigenous women coming together to fight for their rights and to “cry out for help.” 

Under the far-right president Bolsonaro, Brazil has backtracked on rights and protections for the Indigenous community. For example, Brazil has let “agriculture ministry make decisions about Indigenous land, blocked any new reservations, [and] proposed to close specialized Indigenous health care offices.” 

“We’ve been left abandoned,” 43-year-old Teresa Cristina Kezonazokere told Correio Braziliense newspaper (in Portuguese, according to BBC). “They treat Indigenous people like animals.”

According to The Associated Press, Bolsonaro’s administration—since taking office in January—has continuously “clashed with environmentalists and others over possibly opening up the Amazon rainforest to development and agribusiness.”

The president wants to open their lands to agriculture and mining. The Globe Post also reports that President Bolsonaro has been warned by experts and activists about such policies that will have “devastating environmental impacts, particularly in worsening climate change.”

However, Bolsonaro continues to dismiss the facts and data showing that the effects of his policies will affect Indigenous land. “Bolsonaro has dismissed the data as lies and sacked the head of the government agency tasked with tracking tree clearing,” The Globe Post reports. 

Further, Brazil’s government wants to make towns and cities responsible for providing medical services to its Indigenous people—putting the pressure on community leaders and local officials. But community leaders fear that their communities lack the “infrastructure” to do this. According to BBC, the federal government is currently in charge of these responsibilities.

Tamikua Faustino of the Pataxó tribe told the AP that “if we don’t stick together, in the near future we’ll be eliminated.”

This surge in deforestation that occurs on Indigenous reserves would essentially eliminate Indigenous folks from the places they inhabit.

In an AJ+ video shared on Twitter, articulation of the Indigenous people of Brazil Sonia Guajajara said: “We will resist because we’ve been here for five centuries and we have a good experience in resisting.” The Indigenous community is being backed by thousands of community members and supports in fighting back against President Bolsonaro’s government.

When Indigenous folks took the streets of Brazil to protest, they didn’t hold back. Many did so carrying bows, arrows, and spears, and the Indigenous women advanced on Congress in Brasilia carrying a large banner that read: “Resist to exist.” Women leading the frontlines are demanding the protection of their land. 

A couple of days after the initial demonstration took place, about 1,500 indigenous women from 110 ethnic groups were expected to join a protest to defend their rights that are under threat under the Bolsonaro administration.

According to BBC, the president has “promised to integrate Indigenous people into the rest of the population and repeatedly questioned the existence of their protected reserves, which are rights guaranteed in the country’s constitution.” The president who favors development over conservation of Indigenous land and reservations has also said that the Indigenous territories are “too big in relation to the number of people who live there,” therefore making it okay to open land that does not belong to him, to agriculture, minding, and essentially destruction. 

Earlier this month, The Globe Post published an opinion piece highlighting the ways in which Bolsonaro and his presidency were destroying the Brazilian Amazon.   

According to data, deforestation in the Amazon region has skyrocketed and there’s no turning back. In June 2019, deforestation showed to be 88 percent higher than the levels of deforestation seen in June 2018. And in the first half of July 2019, it was 68 percent higher than the entire month of the previous year. 

It’s important to note that more than 800,000 Indigenous people live in 450 Indigenous territories across Brazil and most are located in the Amazon region and some communities live totally isolated. 

But the Indigenous women of Brazil are not backing down. In a video posted by AJ+ on Twitter, one of the women can be seen saying that they’re going to defend nature and defend the forest. “We are defending our children’s lives, but also the lives of the people on the other side of the world,” she adds. “Because the air we breathe is the air you breathe.”

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