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June 29, 2003

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No roads lead to Parantins, only boats and planes, but thousands of people find their way to this remote rivertown and hold a festival that rivals Rio's Carnival...
The Parantins Folk Festival rages for the last three days of June. It's actually a competition between two teams, Caprichoso (the blue bull) and Garantido (the red bull). All festival goers choose one team, approximately 7000 people for each, and they march into a stadium with the blue team seated on one side and the red team on the other. The performers dress in outlandish costumes, supported by dance bands, elaborate floats, fireworks, and light shows. Every audience member cheers, chants, and dances in the stands for their team. Judges decide the winner based upon the music, dancing, costumes, performance, and audience frenzy.
The stadium provides props - flags, candles, colored paper, towels - for the audience to support their team. It's astounding to see a stadium full of people wearing white plastic bags.
Gala costumes - a member of the Garantido team.
Well over 10,000 people descend on Parantins for the festival and fill up every nook and cranny of accommodation. We sleep in the Hotel de Redes, literally, the Hotel of Hammocks. Bring your own hammock.