Viva São João

Today I’m off to Brazil for 10 days to spend São João which is this weekend! Yes, it’s their winter, and it might rain the whole time I’m there, but it’s one of my favourite times of year. Other than carnival the other biggest music related event in Brazil is São João – St John’s, also known as Festa Junina or June Festival.


The festivities originated during the colonial period to celebrate the nativity of St John the Baptist, and are historically related to the European Midsummer festivities. The Northeast of Brazil has very dry and arid landscapes and the festival was an opportunity for the people to give thanks to St John for the rains. Although closely imbedded into the North-eastern culture the festival is celebrated nationwide.


Now a days the festival has evolved into a celebration of traditional rural life, with big street parties in rural areas and now capital cities, with traditional clothing, food, and dancing.


Clothing – guys dress as farm peasants in straw hats and patched up chequered shirts, and girls dress in colourful frilly dresses, their hair in pigtails and freckles painted on their faces.



A little school friend and I in our Sao Joao costumes for our school party
A little school friend and I in our Sao Joao costumes for our school party

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The Sun Has Got His Hat On

This morning was nat pleasant. Power walking to the station in humid mist meant I got to the station covered in sweat. NOT HOW I LIKE TO START THE DAY. But look now! It’s bright and sunny. My bones are warm and I hope this is the lead up to a wardrobe change!


Whenever I think of the summer I think of this song by Roy Ayers ‘Everybody loves the Sunshine’. It should always be on your summer playlist. Perfect at BBQs and mid-summer night drinking sessions. ROLL ON SUMMER!


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Carnival in Salvador 2013 – top 3

I know Nissa recently posted about carnival in Brasil last year, but I can’t lie that I’m still on a bit of a high from carnival this year which was almost two months ago now booo!


So I thought the best way to share a bit of it with you was to share videos of the three most played songs in Salvador this year.


The first song which, I am not exaggerating, must have heard at least once every ten minutes is Ziriguidum by a band called Filhos de Jorge. I heard somewhere that it’s a version of a Columbian song, but don’t quote me on that. What I must warn you though is that this song will get stuck in your head! As soon as the intro to the song started playing everyone in the street would stretch their arm out and start doing the choreography, which is dead easy so even the most rhythmically challenged could join in…enjoy…


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Morro de Sao Paulo aka Paradise

Friends and family had been telling me to go and visit Morro de Sao Paulo over and over again, but until this year I’d never got round to it. Every time I go to Brazil I have a full diary of people to see and a list of things I want to do and eat. So when I went in February for carnival I decided not to make any plans for after carnival to give me a chance to finally get to visit this paradise island.



The island doesn’t have any cars on it, so the only way to get there is by air or some kind of boat. I decided to go by catamaran, the ticket cost R$70 (about £22).

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Reminiscing Salvador Carnival 2012. Tear.

So carnival in Brazil is the bestest. I am bias, but it is true. For your information, carnival in Rio and Salvador are very different (Salvador is better also). To help make up your mind…If you want to sit back listen to samba and watch a phenomenal show with half naked tanned bodacious buff bodies, Rio is your gal. BUT if you want to be part of the show and listen to samba, axe, reggae, samba-reggae, pagode, baile funk and even the occasional bit of house, SALVADOR IS YOUR GIRL!



This year’s week long affair ended a month ago. My mum, dad and sister were all there absorbing the sun, sea and music with family and friends at our Barra flat – literally right next to the festivities.

In Salvador, there are 2 routes for carnival: Campo Grande in the old city and Barra – next to the beach. I used to spend my childhood in a big rented room in Campo Grande with family and friends. I have some amazing memories sitting on the window ledge watching the floats go by.


Awww when Natalie was the ‘big’ sister at Campo Grande!


As Campo Grande is the more traditional route with Afro-Brazilian groups passing by, I especially remember Filhos de Ghande bloco (group) and Ilhe Aye parading down in their costumes (I will explain ‘Bloco’ in a bit).  If you didn’t know, Salvador is heavily influenced by African culture due to it being the main port during the slave trade and first capital city of Brazil.


 These guys are dressed in the Ilhe Aye costumes

   The famous Gilberto Gil dressed as Filho de Gandhy ‘Son of Ghandi’


Last year I went to Brazil for 3 weeks. During which my best friend Hannah came for 2 weeks and it was magical. I’ll tell you about the holiday in another post but let’s concentrate on carnival for now!

So a week of sunbathing, drinking, dancing, partying: F*CKING BRILLIANT. Minus the sleepless nights….but napping is for the day homies! So what is it all about?

Well, carnival is made up of ‘blocos’. What you do is you choose the artists you want to see at a particular time and then buy the t-shirt called an ‘abada’ or costume in the case of the above. This t-shirt will allow you to follow the custom built trucks surrounded by rope holders. If you aren’t wearing the right t-shirt, you’ll be led outside. The surrounding areas of the truck are so packed it’s hard to follow them all the way, but it can be done!



We followed Banda Eva, with Saulo singing on one night and Claudia Leitte another night. I have to say Saulo was absolutely amazing. The four of us went out; my two cousins and Hannah and we had a blast. My cousins and I got emotional a few times…it’s not everyday I get to see my cousins…and the mix of powerful music, beer and love was too much!





This was the song of the year, and it still makes me smile thinking about Hannah attempting to sing it in Portuguese…very entertaining. (Fast forward it about 40 seconds in).


Claudia Leitte is one of the most famous Brazilian female singers at the moment and with her amazing beauty, booming voice and upbeat songs it’s no wonder. But I thought I would share one of the most iconic female singers of Bahia, Daniella Mercury. She empitomizes Salvador’s Afro-Brazilian culture in her music and has been around since before I was born.


When we weren’t following blocos, we were chilling out in the front space of the flat. Perfect view for the passing blocos with looooads of space to drink and dance.


 My cousin Laura and I 


 Our view


Me and Hannah drinking Capirinhas! Mmmm


In the morning through tired eyes, it’s time for the beach or pool…whatever tickles your fancy! Time to top up the tan! I think I went a bit overboard…but it’s bitter cold in England…got to make the most of it!