February 14th - 19th. Carnaval is a national passion in brazil. It doesn’t seem to have a specific beginning or end, because pre and post parties abound, and different cities celebrate different dates. I spent a night and a day during Carnaval in Recife, but celebrations were happening the whole week i was there. Often the party is overwhelming, but not because it was over saturated with tourists, as I’d feared. I was happy to discover that its still a very brazilian celebration; it’s cool to see an entire country celebrating together. The grand opening in Recife was the highlight of carnaval, but there were great moments throughout the week and a half of parties. One of my best memories is also one of my worst, and also maybe the most Brazil-in-a-nutshell, if that’s possible. The first night out in Barra, the center of the Salvadorian Carnaval, I was with a group of 6. One of the girls, a sweet but tough looking German, was wearing a cross neclace worth about 20 bucks. But it was shiny enough to catch the attention of a theif, who tried to rip it off her neck. When she resisted, he punched her in the face. She bled a bit, but was mostly just shaken up. I saw the scrum and rushed over. I was too late to really help, but I dragged her away from the crowd while everything settled down. As bad as that was, the next 45 minutes showed what are, in my opinion, Brazil’s true colors. The number of people that stopped to help, the time they spent with us, and the ways they helped us were inspiring. Several women tried to get her to laugh and start dancing again immediately, almost as if her safety depended on it. That shed some light on Brazil’s famous “Joie de Vivre.” No matter how bad things get - and they get pretty bad - most people here fight it with laughter. And that’s never more visible than at Carnaval.