A northeastern Brazilian town has a different take on Carnival parades
Brazil didn’t need that. Economic woes and political scandals were already casting a threatening shadow on the 2016 Rio Olympics, the first edition of the Games to be held in a South American city. And yet since last May several millions of unwanted visitors have plunged Brazil deeper into distress. Forcing the country into a state of public health emergency, mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are drawing further negative press to Latin America's largest economy.
What Brazil needed to forget all this is a good party. And that’s what it got as its annual Carnival reached its climax last Sunday, exactly six months before the start of the Olympics. Economic stress did not completely go away: 48 cities gave up running the event on the back of reduced sponsorship and rising fabric prices. But the show unfolded with brio in Rio, where an estimated five million repellent-clad people revelled on the streets for a week.
Away from the razzle-dazzle of the coastal party, however, a more understated event also took place – as it has every year for nearly a century. The Caretas Carnival, in the northeastern city of Triunfo, sees inhabitants parade through the streets wearing colourful masks painted with dour expressions. The tradition began, the legend says, after two drunken men were forbidden from taking part in the official show. Feeling unfairly excluded, they took to the streets to protest - hidden behind masks showing their distaste.