This morning we woke up to the sound of a woodpecker pecking the hell out of a nearby telegraph pole. But that was the only sound – bliss. We have moved on from the massive campsite at Cabanas and we are now about 15 miles inland at Moncarapacho. Complete contrast here with only 6 vans on a little site at the side of a villa, its really like camping in someones garden. The owners are a lovely Norwegian couple whom we stayed with last year, sometimes when we go back to a place it isn’t quite as good as our memories told us – not the case here, just as good if not better.
It was warm enough to have breakfast outside the van in our pj’s today so we did. Sian kindly bought us about 3 kilos of oranges yesterday from a road side seller, so we had freshly squeezed juice with our weetabix and decided the diet starts today after eating out for the last 3 days.
We were extremely energetic this morning and moved all of 5 feet after breakfast to put the chairs into a sunnier spot, then did some catching up with the sunbathing and reading for a few hours. After a quick lunch we decided we should head into town as its the local Mardi Gras Carnival this weekend in most towns and villages.
Moncarapacho is a smallish town, a fair few shops and loads of bars but more like a market town than a touristy town. We thought the carnival would be a few groups of people parading around and a couple of floats, how wrong could we be. We walked in and it was due to start at 2.30pm. Speakers had been attached all over town with wires running all over the place, music was blaring and it seemed like everyone was in costume, even those who had just come to watch. We thought before it all got going we would get a quick coffee, popped into a bar and whilst Iain got the drinks I headed for the loo, narrowly missing have a dart embedded in my head – why put the loo door right next to the dart board?? Well it amused that dart players but I was a little nervous off how to get back out again.
We found a space in the square and settled down for the start, by 3pm nothing was really happening but we could see a big JCB at the bottom of the road with several people in the ‘bucket’. We realised they were lifting people onto the top of the floats from the JCB! Portugal does not do health and safety that is for sure. The floats were amazing but they looked like they were made from plywood. Kids were hanging onto little poles and there were women dancing 20ft on top of some of them with nothing holdiing them on. Each float was pulled by a local on a tractor, each of which was being steered with one hand and holding tightly to his bottle of beer in the other as they merrily drive round the tiny streets. The floats fitted through the streets with literally inches to spare, but no one seemed to bothered and the crowds just stepped back a few paces each time a float was coming to make sure it could get through.
The floats themselves were all covered in thousands of tiny pieces of crepe paper, the costumes ranged from homemade bits and bobs to really elaborate outfits. Behind each one were groups of people dancing, it was fantastic. I guess that’s why they call it a “Carnival Atmosphere” as there was no other way to describe it. I did feel the need to get in with the crowd and have a quick salsa, Iain on the other hand felt it was best I didn’t!! so I was duly banned from showing him up:(. Iain on the other hand was quite entranced with the Brazilian show girls – he was muttering about the lovely float but think the outfits (read – lack of) had more to do with it, so whilst his mind was on other things a group came along doing the Macarena so I managed to get into the swing for a few minutes and even knew the words 🙂