As yesterday was Carnival, we decided to celebrate by having lunch chez our French friends, whose flat turned out to be about 10 minutes walk away from our own — uphill, of course.

Inside, their flat was huge and beautifully redone, with room after lofty (and currently cold) white room, a walk in closet, two bathrooms, and a kitchen with a tiny stove tucked into what had formerly been a massive hearth. As with many of the remodeled places we’ve seen here, great attention had been paid to keeping original details intact while making it modern and livable: the stove in the hearth, the molding on the ceilings, the exposed structural beams in the living room, the small stainless sink in the bathroom. One of my favorite flats we’ve seen here so far.

After an excellent lunch, we all got into costume. I helped transform the two kids, who were visiting their dad from France, into a pirate and a cat using the makeup that our friend had bought for the purpose. Gabe and I donned our masks, and our hosts became a fortune teller (complete with crystal ball) and another pirate. We had a great time improvising costumes out of things they had around the house: the crystal ball was a lampshade, the pirates’ eye patches were sleeping masks, and Gabe became a huge hit when he created the cat’s ears and tail as well as a pirate sword out of construction paper.

Fully costumed, out we went into the cold afternoon, ready for the festivities. We didn’t see anyone else dressed up for quite some time, and were worried that we would be the only ones in costume. Not to worry — we soon found the Carnival parade, and even joined it, winding slowly along the gridded streets of Baixa along with a huge crowd of other people, young and old, all in costume and having a grand old time, despite the rain that started falling almost as soon as we joined the parade.

We got soaked, and our masks soon looked the worse for wear, but we had a great time watching everyone else having a great time. It felt just like Halloween in Santa Cruz, people dancing around and singing, drumming, totally liberated in their anonymity.

As for the rest… I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. I probably won’t write again for a few days while our guests are here, but am sure that I will have many stories to tell afterwards!

I’m not sure if all of my pictures loaded on the slideshow below, so you might want to watch them here on Flickr to make sure. (And then for a total contrast, check out these photos from other Carnival celebrations around the world!)

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