Rio Carnival to culminate with sumptuous parades

Brazil's famous Carnival kicks into high gear Sunday as the city prepares to hold sumptuous multimillion-dollar parades amid what is billed as the Greatest Party on Earth.

A light rain did nothing to dampen the festive spirit Saturday, serving more as a refreshing cool-down for bodies worked into a sweat as they danced and gyrated at the numerous "blocos," or street parties.

The monster of all the blocos, the Bloco Bola Preta, filled the center of Rio with a motley crowd of up to two million people wearing all manner of garb - or in many cases, little at all.

"Everybody is mixing here. There's no class differences. None. Everybody is here with the same plan, to have fun," said one young woman sporting Elton John-style oversized yellow sunglasses and a bouffant Afro wig.

Throughout the city, nearly 800,000 tourists, Brazilian and foreign, were taking part in the extravaganza alongside most of Rio's population of six million, turning the place into a bohemian sprawl buoyed by high-decibel samba music.

Although the focus was on Rio, which holds key parades Sunday and Monday, the whole nation was letting loose for Carnival.

In the southern state of Santa Catarina, though, tragedy struck in the form of a horrific road accident. At least 25 people were killed when the bus they were traveling in collided with an oncoming timber-hauling truck before dawn.

The carnage was by far the worst of a multitude of traffic deaths occurring as Brazilians moved around the country for the Carnival celebrations, which run until Wednesday.

Throughout Rio de Janeiro state, 50,000 police were deployed to clamp down on crime and ensure the safest Carnival possible.

Many were in the city of Rio, where this year some 30 surveillance cameras have been installed to improve monitoring, and where police have in recent months been chasing drug gangs out of some of the most lawless slums.

The re-taking of the slums "has improved the Carnival atmosphere a lot," said Paulo, a 22-year-old smiling broadly at the Bola Preta bloco. "Before it was a problem, there were muggings," but now people feel much safer, he said.

Nearby, Vanderleia, a 47-year-old nurse from a slum who was partying before starting her hospital shift, said: "We feel safer in the bloco than at home."

Although the crackdown on the gangs started in 2008, Rio authorities have stepped up their actions in recent months as they try to repair the city's reputation for crime ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

They have launched a cleanup of the police force, identifying and kicking out officers - some of them very senior - believed to have links to violent militias that also operate in the slums, executing rivals and extorting money from residents.

"You can't just fight the drug gangs but also the corrupt police," said one 20-year-old student, Tais.

For the majority of those taking part in Rio's Carnival, though, the attention was on fun, leaving behind the grime and grind of ordinary living for a five-day frenzy of drinking, kissing, dancing and beach-going.

"I'm looking for a girlfriend," affirmed one 29-year-old, Erivaldo, who had been knocking back beers since 7:00 am. He confided to AFP that he was especially interested in girls wearing Minnie Mouse costumes.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment