One thing I forgot to mention was that we were there for the start of Lent, which of course meant Shrove Tuesday – Mardi Gras! To mark this event, there was a carnival in Funchal which we all went to.
It was actually quite fun – lots of people walked by, or came by on floats, and they were all dressed up in costumes. These seemed to split between general sex/horror (men in drag, Grim reaper), society references we didn’t understand (the tramps’ parade, and lots of scarecrows), and political messages, particularly a lot of stuff to do with health and money. We couldn’t understand the slogans, as there were in Portuguese, but could get enough of a grasp to get the basic message…
Had to swiftly distract my little boy a couple of times – first when a gallows came by that had someone being strung up ready to be hung (just pretend, but looked real), and second when a car came by with a sex orgy going on – again just pretend, but nevertheless with two men in drag standing on the roof gyrating and performing oral sex on a dildo. I looked a bit like there was a young lady in the back with her legs in the air, but – perhaps fortunately – the crowd got in the way.
To be fair, in the space of over an hour of people passing by, these were the only two I felt were inappropriate for a three year old – the rest was all either based on imagery that would pass him by, or good clean fun.
We also got a free DVD from the Ministry of Tourism (or something), that was a review of all the attractions on the island, including the 2006/7 New Year fireworks, which looked absolutely breath-taking. While I wasn’t there, it looked by far the most impressive and sustained display I’ve ever seen (this record was previously for me held by the Sydney 2000 fireworks, which again I didn’t see live, but looked pretty good on the telly).