Josh´s Carnaval Ramblings Part 1 - Bloco Attempt

Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog

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The above word is pronounced much like GOOOOOAL! in a local futebol match. In the last 52 or so hours, I have heard this often. Almost as often as I have heard the locals toting foam esky´s announce "Coca, Agua, Skol". This is referring to the fact that they are selling Coca-cola (coca) Water (Agua) and a rather watery imitation of everyones favourite amber fluid (Skol, a local brand similiar in taste to a watered down corona) .

So, Carnaval. In Rio, this event takes place over about 2 weeks, with unofficial block parties (Blocos) going day and night every day for an extra week pre and post the main celebration dates.

Carnaval is (allegedly) a way for staunchly catholic brasillians to get all their sins out of their system before lent, where they have to behave. I don´t see any evidence of behaviour change, but then again, I saw more than ample evidence of the skill of the local plastic surgey battallions in the parade and the stands, so as far as I´m concerned, it balances out. No, it´s not logical, it´s a guy thing. Boobies = Right. And don´t pretend you girls don´t already understand this. Those times you´ve been berating us for a mistake, we weren´t hanging our heads in shame, we were merely looking at your chest to remind us why we put up with this stuff. Ask any male. He´ll tell you the same. Unless he has or is intending on sleeping with you, then he is duty bound to discredit this statement solely to appear "nice" and "trustworthy" though you´ll probably think he´s a "pussy" for wimping out like that.

Back to Carnaval.

On The Friday night, Cass and I went to Centro to go to a local bloco. These are parties of about 10-15,000 people dancing and drinking with various people dressed up in miniature parades with no real rhyme or reason to them. Most groups seem to be representing some sort of organisation, though one had the mascot of a rubber chicken (I couldn´t make this up) and seemed to be campaigning to have them set free. I don´t get it either.

We arrive at a friends hotel in what I described as the "Shittiest, dodgiest part of South America known to man". Within 10 minutes, some friends of our friends come into the hotel saying they´d been mugged. In the next block. In broad daylight, with 2 big guys and 2 girls in a crowded area. The girl was slapped silly, the guys threatened and no one did shit, even the local turista policia. This made me a little on edge, as I would soon be escorting three girls to a bloco that we knew was in a certain general direction, with no real knowledge of the crowd type, the safety of the streets there or even the availability of taxi´s there.

Anyway, setting fear aside, we start out. We get two blocks and it´s seedier than we´d imagined. Syringes are on steps, people look at us in the "You lost Gringo" sort of tone. I look longingly at pipes stuck in the local bin and imagine improvising one into someones ribs if they pull us up. Pretty soon the girls decide that no party can be that good and that they´d rather go back to the hotel. I act reluctant to agree but then decide to high-tail it back asap. My rubbish inspired martial arts skills notwithstanding, I decide discression is the better part of valour and take the women-folk home. I doubt they beleived me when I said I´d have gone on if they wanted to.

So, anyway we soon forget any regrets we had, as after about half an hour, the unmistakable sound of four gunshots rings out into the night. Near by. The street, previously gridlocked and packed is suddenly empty, except for a dozen or so black clad SWAT style police waving around automatic weapons.

We collectively convince one of the more timid girls that it could have been a car back-firing. four times in two seconds. She didn´t really beleive it either, but the illusion was comforting.

So, eventually, we venture to the lobby, ask for a cab to the door, get in and get the fuck out. The other girls move out the next morning, despite having paid for four nights. i don´t blame them at all.

Thus endeth our first carnaval celebration.

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