7 things you’ll see at the Lavagem do Bonfim

The Lavagem do Bonfim,  Salvador’s second-biggest street party after Carnaval, consists of an 8-kilometer procession through the lower city, up to Bonfim Church. Bahian women bring flowers and wash the steps of the church in honor of Jesus (if you’re Catholic) or Oxalá (if you’re of the candomblé persuasion).

Here are seven things you’ll see along the way:

1. People dressed in white

The white is either because it’s Oxala’s color… or else because it’s so darn hot!

2. Baianas in traditional dress with flowers

3. Big-ass political balloons

I counted at least eight different political parties
If you’re lucky, you’ll even see some real-life politicians

4. Dozens of random bands

Playing exuberant/chaotic music, and one band is often right behind another, thus resulting in a giant mess of SOUND
It wouldn’t be a party without some percussion!

5. People you know

I’m always amazed at the fact that somehow, over an eight-kilometer stretch with tens of thousands of people, I always manage to run into friends. Over the course of the parade, we ran into no less than six people we knew, including Christian’s parents and fellow Brazil blogger markuza. But we didn’t take any pictures  🙁

6. Random stuff

A sustainable automobile?
WHY is there a donkey head on top of this car? I’ll never know.

7. Bonfim Church

Careful not to get your pocket picked while listening to the sermon…

Jesus is watching you

This is the second time I’ve walked the procession, and I’m not really crazy about it. The Bahia tourism brochures describe the Lavagem do Bonfim all romantically as “a blend of the sacred and the secular” – but what that really means is that the party starts off with some religious ritual and then turns into drunken debauchery and violence. It’s pretty much the same as all the other street parties, and I’m not a huge fan of navigating through crowds of sweaty people while listening to crappy music and trying to avoid getting beer spilled on me. Call me a stick in the mud if you want 🙂