Josh´s Carnaval spiel part II - Witness the Spectacular

Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog

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Josh and cas @ Rio Carnaval Parade

So, after the excitement of our first expedition, we got ready for the second. This involved going to the Sambodromo with 50 thousand others and enjoying the parade of half the A-list samba schools.

After the previous scare, we decided to leave for the sambodromo in good daylight, and wear conservative dress (jeans, T-shirt, no jewellery or anything we couldn´t handle being lost) However, we forget a map of the area. We arrive close to the sambo dromo 2 hours before the action starts, it´s already a huge party. People are milling about everywhere, massive floats sit idle with people swarming all over them. Flowers, feathers and glitter abound in such numbers that I´m sure the refletsions can be seen from the moon, and that there are a lot of cold and naked peacocks wandering the country somewhere.

Rio Carnaval Parade

Once again, we are assaulted by shouts of "Coca, Agua, Skol!" A side note about Rio, you will be approached here. Always. Sitting on the beach, people come by with boards of jewellery, bags of cashews, cold drinks, watermelon, açai granola, ice cream, towels, unbrellas, whatever. If you even glance in their direction, they will soon decend on you and regale you with what a great deal they have. Being naturally curious, I am bread and butter for these guys. However, I am also not much of a jewellery person, so they soon leave when they realise I don´t want a feathered hair braid. Honestly, I didn´t. i was just checking them out for Cass. They still approach though. Walking on the street during a local bloco parade, every few metres is a guy with a foam esky shouting for you to buy from him.

Rio Carnaval Parade - there were about 6-8 of the big floats for each school. And we watched about 6 schools parade. No wonder it finished at 6am.
Apparantly liquor licansing laws here are as lax as their driving licensing laws. Still, these guys work, and earn an honest living. The very definition of entrapenurial spirit.

Also on the beach and main streets are the other people who approach you. The beggers and the prostitues. I put them in the same category as they often look the same. I´m usually a soft touch for street kids asking for cash, but after giving one a couple of real, and having them come back an hour later high as a freaking kite and doing the same "Por Favor Senhor, 1 real. Hungry." I realised that I´d been had. He´d just used it to buy some crack. He looks about eight years old. After that, as much as I hate to, I just shake my head and keep walking. It sounds trerrible, but it´s true.

Rio Carnaval Parade - Samba Queens
Give the kids food and they just trade it for drugs. Ditto for the prostitutes, though some must be doing very well for themselves, as they seem to be able to afford enough surgery to enhance their feminity substantially (even if they started out with no feminine parts at all). Also in the category of beggars are the able bodied men who cart around a kid that may or may not be theirs and asking for cash. I have no time for these guys, as the same looking guy shouting "Coca, Agua Skol" is in just the same situation as him, but is trying to do something. i know I sound like a prick here, but hey, it´s a fact.

Rio by day and Rio by night are different cities.

But, back to carnaval.

We arrive at sambodromo a bit lost. We wander one way, then another until seeing a sign to sector 7 (our section) It took us about an hour to get about 2 k´s to our section.

Rio Carnaval Parade - more Samba Queens.
Not that it was that thick a crowd (Though it was pretty crowded) but we just got a bit lost.

We find the stand and locate a concrete step that is apprantly our ´"Seat". We sit and wait for another hour as the place fills up.

As it fills, we notice that there are no other gringos in this area. We get a little worried. An extremely flamboyant gay guy and his obligitory female friend are in front of us. When i say flamboyant I mean he´d have people in the sydney mardi-gras telling him he´s just gone too far. He´s got on so much glitter, body paint, makeup and hairspray that he´s leaving a trail of metal flakes and aerosol fumes in his wake. His "Queens council" (Thanks Kat for the alternative name to "Fag-Hag") is a beefy woman who commands a space about four metres wide with her one metre wide arse, and unlike the typical non-cellulite brasllian booty, this chick has enough fat on her butt to deep fry a house.

Rio Carnaval Parade - the butterfly people.
She proceeds to dance to no music and bump into people until they move away, ensuring she has lots of space and an unrestriced view.


The cocky brasillian QC is hip and shouldered by several other agressive brasiliian women.  Blood seems imminent as the boyfriends come into the fold, though the newcomer´s boyfriend is about 6 foot 2 and pretty stocky. The QC´s friend however is full of attitude and bitchyness. I give the big guy the weight advantage, but the mean streak goes to the feathered friend. I breifly consider approaching the people surrounding us to place bets on the outcome, but then consider this a bad idea, as it would let them know that I have money on me.

Strangely though, everything settles down very quickly, and aside from some sniping bitchiness from the women (and the gay guy) evryeone seems to forget about it.

Rio Carnaval Parade
If only this happened in Australia.

Then, just as we were at our most paranoid what-did-we-get-ourselves-into phase of mind, the parade starts.

The first school is lead by girls with figures straight from playboy, wearing bright coloured feathers behind them, not like wings, more like... trails. I´ll post photos when I get the chance. They´re not wearing much else at all. (Throughout the night there are literally hundreds of these girls. Unfortunately I onyl managed to get photos of about 70 or so of them, so sorry guys, but I´ll post them soon)

after that is a group of costumed people wearing things only a drunken brasillian mind could imagine, then the first float comes, it´s a roaring lion, about 4 metres high with a big paw swiping the air, surrounded by scantily clad women, not unlike a scene you might see painted on the bonnet of a sandman panelvan.

Cassie at Rio Carnaval Parade

After the float there are about another three hundred more costumed people before another float that resembles fanciful horses pulling an extremely ornate carriage. This process repeats about 10 more times and takes another hour and a half. After this we look at each other in utter amazement. I could try to describe it, but it´s just not possible. You´ll just have to wait until the photo´s, and even those don´t really represent the scene, the sound or the feeling that pulses around the stands. I´m shuffling my feet in the gringo verios of the samba (Imagine brushing sand off your feet on hot concrete, and put it on double speed) While doing this... uh... "Dance" I look stupid, but no one gives a shit. Everyone is swept up in the atmosphere. After the hour and a half is up, we hear an english voice ask "How many schools was that?"

Her friend answers "One"

"ONE? How many more are ther tonight?" she asked

"Seven" he answered. This guy is a man of few words, but they hit us like a freight train. Seven more schools? All this big? No way!

Yes, it´s true. The scene repeats 7 more times, each school has it´s own song that we can´t really follow, dances we don´t know and costumes, floats, fireworks and dancers that are more amazing than the last. This goes for twelve hours. No shit.

After twelve hours of raucous celebration, and getting hit by cass for taking pistures of the hot women in the private box opposite (again lads, the phot´s will be up) we leave. It´s daylight and the taxi line seems to stretch to the horizon, but we couldn´t give a shit. We line up and wait fo about 45 minutes, get in  a cab and get home, going straight to bed, knowing full well that tomorrow night, not only do we have to go to sambodromo AGAIN, but we are actually IN the parade. Yes, we too get the opportunity to dress up like a very gay-incan version of batman and show the world our woeful samba ability, as part of the Portela school, the oldest samba school in Rio.....

But that´s another story.

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Josh and cas @ Rio Carnaval Parade
Josh and cas @ Rio Carnaval Parade
Rio Carnaval Parade
Rio Carnaval Parade
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Rio Carnaval Parade - there were …
Rio Carnaval Parade - Samba Queens
Rio Carnaval Parade - Samba Queens
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Rio Carnaval Parade - the butterf…
Rio Carnaval Parade
Rio Carnaval Parade
Cassie at Rio Carnaval Parade
Cassie at Rio Carnaval Parade