"Carnaval In Rio" Rio de Janeiro by jorgejuansanchez
Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide: 3,676 reviews and 6,532 photos
I flew from Barcelona, in Spain, to Rio de Janeiro in order to participate in the world famous Carnival. I found a cheap accommodation in Rio and I went out to explore the surrounding area.
Rio is a beautiful city; if I try hard to make a comparison, the names of Quebec, Santa Fe in New Mexico, Sydney and San Francisco come to my mind. Rio, at the entrance of a great bay, with the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema, São Conrado and many more, with rocks erected in the center, the statue of Christ the Redeemer at Corcovado, gardens and jungle, palm trees, with its tropical heat, its happy people and its peaceful island of Paquetá is, without doubt, the most beautiful city of South America.
It takes a couple of days to adapt to the climate, especially if you have just arrived from the European winter. At noon, the temperature is 40 degrees Celsius, reaching at times 45, and at night, it rarely falls below 30.
During my first days, most of my budget was going on drinking. In Rio innumerable fruit juice stands exist, where they serve delicious milkshakes and juices of sugarcane, coconut, cashew, watermelon, mango, papaya, passion fruit?and so on up to twenty different fruits.
Soon carnaval would arrive, and excitement breathed through the streets at all hours; the samba schools practiced their dances during the day; the people looked very happy; the prices were rising, and at night, there were spectators on the beaches.
In Rio there are two kinds of carnavals: one is for people willing to spend lots of money, and it takes place in a kind of stadium named the Sambodromo, where the price of entry is very high. There, the most luxurious schools parade and all the spectators are seated. The other is called the popular carnaval and takes place on the street Rio Branco, being free, and where people remain standing. Many banners stated that the street carnaval is the real carnaval of the people.
I went to the street carnaval.
The whole street of Rio Branco was already crowded on February 7 at 9 pm, the windows of the businesses protected by sheets of wood. All we spectators were excited when in the distance we began to hear the first drums of the first group.
The members were dressed as savage Indians, pirates, fairies, caliphs, harlequins, mandarins, clowns, animals, ballet dancers, lancers, devils, buffoons, with feathered costumes and butterfly wings?, and each school numbered more than a thousand people, of which some two hundred were musicians with drums and tambourines singing, and a hundred older women called Bahianas with wide, full skirts, and puppeteers, and fifty girls in cancan costumes, and a hundred Indians and Amazonian girls, sorcerers, floats, and more girls, and more etc?, and the king and queen of each school dressed in the fashion of 18th-century nobility.
This huge spectacle surpassed any expectation, and as the hours passed, one felt the contagion of the samba rhythm, feeding on the heat and the impressions.
I had never seen so much widespread euphoria. As a poor comparison, I only remembered the celebrations of Chinese New Year in Singapore, with the participation of the Malays and Hindus.
Indeed, the carnaval succeeded in completely distracting you from your other interests in life; you only lived for it.
Each block had composed a song with a social message. Some of the lyrics said more or less the following:
Some blocks criticized the government, the excessive price of coffee; others denounced racism, unemployment, etc.
One night it soon began to rain in buckets; many people retreated for shelter, but the parade continued, and ignoring the rain, they kept on singing and dancing. Nothing could stop the carnaval for four days and five nights!
There was one factor always present in Brazil, especially during carnaval: theft. It is said that there are so many thieves in Rio, it is considered as something natural and one has to be careful every day, like when you cross a street and look to see if cars are passing by. Buses are one of the places where you have to be vigilant, and as everybody is crowding around to be the first to enter, it's necessary to get on with hands in your pockets and making way with your elbows. They tried to rob me several times, but my belongings and I formed a single person, and I always surprised the thief with his hand inside my pocket.
After the Rio Carnaval I traveled northwards, to Salvador, in Bahia.
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