Day 1 – 27 December
A couple of days before we were due to leave Morro de Sao Paulo, we came across a travel agency / tour company with a hand written sign about a bus to the UP festival, so we bought tickets immediately. On the 27th December 2013 we started our journey to the festival. First we had to hike all our bags to the pier on Morro, then we boarded a speed boat to Valençia, after which we caught a bus to the festival.
The bus was not able to drop us off at the gates of the festival, we need to hike our bags close to a kilometer down the road. We arrived at the area where the gates were and saw a massive queue of people. First you needed to get your arm band aka festival passport, luckily foreigners who had bought their tickets online could go to a special queue, which was not hundreds of people and hours waiting. After getting our wrist bands we moved to the gate queue, which was unavoidable and pretty long.
It took us a couple of hours before we got through the gates, once we got through the gate we had our bags searched for alcohol, they didn’t try very hard and we managed to smuggle in a couple of liters of vodka and rum. We were allowed to take water into the festival, so I brought along a 10liter bottle. The drawback of bringing all this liquid was it weight a lot on top of our already heavy backpacks. So I had to carry about 30kg of weight to our campsite.
A friend of mine from South Africa had been to the festival many times before and he had suggested we try find a camping spot right next to the beach. I was determined to find a good spot, so Barbara and I kept walking, we must have walked another couple of kilometers or maybe more before we found the beach. Sadly it looked like there was no space anywhere, the front area was packed like I had never seen at any festival.
We lucked out and found a spot about 5 meters from the edge of the beach, we could feel the cool breeze off the sea and there was a lovely chill out stage about a couple hundred meters away. We had found our home for the next 9 days.
We were told that the heat during the day was almost unbearable and we should look around for guys who helped build shade structures at your tent. We found two guys wearing UP staff shirts who were building the structures. They helped put up our tent so that we could build the bamboo structure with palm leaves on top.
The festival has its own currency, so to buy food, water and bar stuff you needed to purchase tickets that you could exchange for what you needed to eat or drink. Being the start of the festival everyone was queuing for tickets, so we joined the queues… We were starting to realize that queuing patience would need to be managed carefully, no point in getting frustrated, we were on Bahia time which seemed slower than African time.
After grabbing some tickets we decided to get some food. There were queues are certain stalls, for example the pizza place, but they had an organized system for the pizza queue. We really needed to get the hang of the festival, Barbara and I were quite overwhelmed at first by the sheer number of people and the size of the festival.
We walked around for a while, but it seemed like there were no English speaking people… Then we heard some Aussies chatting to each other, so we introduced ourselves to them and they were really friendly. Great to be able to speak to people and understand what they say.
We had an early night because the day had been long.
Day 2 – 28 December
We woke up fairly early due to the heat, there was no chance you could sleep in the tent after sunrise, which was about 4:30 to 5am. Once the sun pops out it starting getting hotter and hotter, by 6am it was fairly hot and by 9am is was almost unbearable.
There was not any specific music we were keen to see on the first day, so we decided to relax next to the chill stage, which had some really interesting music playing. Luckily we bumped into the Aussies near the chill out stage and decided to spend the day with them getting drunk and talking shit. What an epic day, from swimming to relaxing in the shade, we worked our way through the day. We were extremely happy with our camping spot, it had an ocean breeze and was close to both the chill and 303 stages.
The main stage opened in the evening, but there was not too much we were keen to see.
Day 3 – 29 December
We went down to see Juno Reactor around sunrise, but it was only a DJ set and pretty crap, so we went back to the chill out floor that was playing really awesome swing music. It was quite disappointing because Juno Reactor is one of our all time favorites.
We had ear marked some music on the 30th December that we wanted to see, so we just decided to relax on the beach, we were loving the beach and the sea, the waves were so friendly and beach was a beautiful long white beach kilometers and kilometers long.
During the day there was little chance of sleeping properly due to the sun and the shade moving constantly, so by the time the evening came around we were shattered and decided to just sleep early. Barbara slept in the tent, but I decided to try out the beach, which turned out to be a fantastic idea, I slept like a baby until the sunrise around 5am.
Day 4 – 30 December
Today was the first day that Barbara and I saw music on the line up that we wanted to see, despite the main stage being open, we decided to stick to the 303 Stage, which was right next to the sea, so every half an hour we dashed over from the dance floor 50 meters to the ocean for a quick dip.
We stuck around the 303 stage for about 5 hours and caught 4 incredible sets:
- Solar Spectrum
- Flip Flop
- The First Stone
After the sun dipped down Barbara and I decided to grab dinner, then sleep on the beach. We got. Comfortable on our mattresses around 7pm and listened to Circuit Breakers, which sounded amazing. We were really enjoying the fact that we could party for few hours and walk off a short distance to our camp site to relax or sleep. We felt like we were at a beach paradise.
Day 5 – 31 December
It was strange being at a festival for 5 days already before the highlight which was change over to the new year. It didn’t feel like a new years party, it felt like a laid back festival with some activities.
We didn’t have much on the agenda for the day. We knew that the new years night would be long, so we decided to avoid the sun and sleep as much as possible before midnight. We woke up around 10pm after a fairly decent sleep and got dressed in our white clothes. In Brazil it was customary to wear white to the new years parties as a symbol of a clean or new beginning.
As we walked down to the main stage we noticed that most people were wearing white, so exciting, this is what we had been planning for so long, the moment was finally here. The main stage was closed for a break until about 11pm when Etnica in dub started playing so very chilled out beats. The main floor filled up really quickly and it was no time until the final count down…. 10, 9….. 3, 2, 1 and HAPPY NEW YEAR or Felis ano nova as the Brazilians say.
Day 6 – 1 January
At the Main Stage we stayed to watch two of our favorite acts called Atmos who played from at midnight and then Cosmosis who played a little bit later. This was the first time we had really enjoyed the music on the main floor, wow, what an experience.
We got some rest in becuase around lunch time on New Years day we went to the 303 stage to see Cosmosis again, the floor was small and not to busy so we could stand up close to the front and watch him do his thing. He played all his old school music thatwe loved so much and played a guitar with classic for at least every second track. We were hanging with the Aussies and they were also loving the music! I can say that Cosmosis played the best set I have ever seen, he engaged the audience, he even came down off the stage with his guitar and played for us on the dance floor, incredible!!!!!
Rinkadink played an old school set after Cosmosis and he is a South African living abroad, so I went up and introduced myself to him, he sounded just like a saffa. Once Rinkadink started playing we decided to take a break and go for a swim. The Aussies were sitting in the shade, so we joined then for some much needed sitting time.
I saw Cosmosis walking down to the beach, so Barbs and I decided to go and introduce ourselves and thank him. His name is Billy and he turned out to be super down to earth, so I took a gamble and invited him to sit in the shade with us. He joined us and sat around talking for over an hour. Then Rinkadink, whose name is Werner also joined us and the Aussies, Barbs, myself, Billy and Werner all parked off for a further hour.
Hanging with the artists really made our day! The music was incredible, what more could we have wanted. After a long afternoon Barbs and I went off to get some dinner, which was followed by bed. Luckily our neighbor had moved that morning meaning we could move our tent and sleep under our bamboo and palm leaf shelter. Not so important at night, but in the morning it would be a blessing.
As we were falling asleep we had the privilege of listening to the chill out stage where Etnica in dub was doing another set, what a lovely way to fall asleep!
Day 7 – 2 January
The day started extremely slowly, we were tired and seeing we now had space at our campsite with shade we decided to stick around the camp site and just take periodic dips in the sea to cool off. When we were hungry we would buy fruit from the stall near by and Açai from another stall, nutritious and healthy sustenance.
A friend of ours from San Francisco who is living in Cape Town introduced us online with two of her good friends from San Francisco via Facebook before the festival. When we got to the festival and saw how big it was and how many people there were we were convinced we would never find Jill and Pandelis.
Late afternoon we headed Main floor to go and watch Rinkadink, when we got to the dance floor somebody I didnt recognize walked up to me shouting ASHLEY and it was Pandelis! How awesome was that, we actually found them! We then met Jill and a bunch of their friends. We all ended up having a phat boogie to Rinkadink’s new music and then after that Burn in Noise.
We said good night to our new friends and headed back to our campsite to go and sleep, tomorrow was another day!
Day 8 – 3 January
The 3rd of January signified our last day of music, so we decided to make the most of the our time with our new friends from Sweden, US, Australia and many other countries. We went down to the main dance floor after a hearty lunch. We specifically went to see the following acts:
- Shiva Shandra
What an amazing way to end off the festivities, when the sun dipped down and dark was upon us we said good bye to our new friends, then i took Barbara to go and sleep. That evening after Barbs went to sleep I walked to the band stage to watch a Brazilian band, they were incredible.
My last stop was to watch D-Nox at UP Club Stage, which was pumping, he played an awesome set. What a way to end my festival!!!!!
Day 9 – 4 January
We decided to wake up early and pack the tent before the sun started scorching us. We needed to catch a bus at around 9 to 9:30am. We grabbed our last festival pizza and açai as breakfast before boarding the bus. The bus drove us out of the festival and then dropped us off, just outside the festival gates, we were confused as to why we were stopping, well it seemed we needed to disembark.
We boarded another 3 busses and packed on then unpacked our bags, not quite sure why because the entire discussion was happening in Portuguese, this was highly frustrating. We eventually got on a bus that drove us to Camamue. Next we boarded a slow boat that was took us to our final destination which was Barra Grande.
When we arrived at the Barra Grande pier we were told the area was quite fully booked up with holiday makers and festival people. Barbs and I met an Indian couple Karan and Shaneez who also needed to find accommodation, so we teamed up. First things first, we grabbed a bite to eat where we could leave our women and then go hunting for a Pousada.
Karan and I walked around the entire area, we must have asked over 25 places if they had accommodation, but we got the same answer from all of them = NO! The sun was started to go down and we were loosing faith, but then we met a young woman who spoke English and offered to help us find a place.
The wonderfully helpful woman walked around with us for almost half an hour before we found an apartment that was available. The apartment was huge, it had a living area, big balcony, 2 bed rooms each with their own bathrooms, 3 airconditioners and a self catering kitchen. It was R$500 per night for the apartment, split four ways was not to expensive.
Karan and I went to fetch the women who were getting worried by this stage. We headed off to our new home for the next four days, where we could all have a decent shower and nights rest in a comfortable bed. We were all looking forward to a few days of relaxation and recovery, which was great way to end off after our incredible Universo Parallelo festival experience!