World’s biggest party & we lug heavy stuff
Trip Start Dec 21, 2009
43Trip End Jul 17, 2010
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Firstly a bit of background about Carnaval. Every year in the 4 days before Ash Wednesday, Brazil is thrown into party mode before the solemnity of lent is supposed to take over. The 4 days of partying madness is called Carnaval. There are also plenty of events in the weeks preceding Carnaval which all add to the festivities. Each part of Brazil has different ways of celebrating Carnaval
In the weeks preceding Carnival, the samba schools of Rio hold practice sessions to get their dancing and singing ready for the big show. Whole blocks are closed off by police at night, the whole neighbourhood comes along to watch and sing along
Back to the story at hand. So we went along to the beach and sung along with the samba school (everyone is given lyrics to the song) before Sue-Ly saw us and dragged us into the practice with the rest of the school. We had such a blast and gave the locals something to laugh at as we worked on our Samba skills for nearly an hour. Dancing down the street with the locals and feeling the thunderous beat of the batteria was totally awesome. At the end, we were dripping in sweat, slightly exhausted but on a complete high. The next day, Sue-Ly asked us if we wanted to be a part of the parade with Rocinha’s samba school. Sue-Ly is one of the warmest ladies you will ever meet. As soon as you meet her, you know that she was made for social work. She infected us with her enthusiasm for the Samba school and it didn’t take us long to agree. Before we knew it, we were handing over our clothing measurements and shoe sizes for our costumes to be made. We were going to be Ritual Lunars. You’ll see our costumes in the next blog entry
Life continued for us at the favela. Work at the day care, jiu jitsu at night and now Carnaval practice with the Rocinha samba school. The days flew by and before we knew it, we were into our last week working there. During our stint there, a couple of times I went down to the markets to help the ladies to carry the fresh fruit and veges up to the day care. Once we did a massive shop for stuff like rice, beans and veges so that we could get a bulk discount. The problem with that was that we had to cart the stuff up to the day care, the very same walk that nearly claimed us when we first got there. In the past they have had to pay guys at the bottom to help them carry it up which essentially negated any discounts gained by buying in bulk.
Nic and I wanted to leave a gift for the day care centre that was a little more personal than just money so we decided that every afternoon for our last week, we would buy non perishable food at the markets and cart them up to the house. During our lunch breaks, we would walk down to the markets with empty backpacks and march back up with kilos and kilos of food
On our last day there, we organised with Paulo to borrow his keys to the day care and we carted all the stuff down to the school at 5.30am, in time to surprise the ladies when they arrived to start the day. Even at 5.30 in the morning and walking downhill, you break a serious sweat. We also wrote them a note that we used Google Translator to change from English into Portugese. The combination of the gift and the note made them all extremely happy. For the afternoon, we also organised chocolate cake for the kids to have. All in all, it was a successful surprise. We thought we were the only ones that had a surprise up our sleeves but the ladies of the day care had other ideas. They put together books of art that the kids had done and got the kids to give it to us just before we left. There were a few tears shed from Nic and I must admit, I nearly let one or two go myself. Nearly. Those books meant the world to us and we will never forget the time we spent living and working at Roupa Suja.
We left Roupa Suja that evening with our bulky bags, walking down much fitter and happier than when we came (if that was possible) and made our way to our hotel to meet the rest of the Dragoman group for Carnaval week. But first, we had a meeting with a couple of Goldsteins who were flying in from Argentina. Our dear friends Ilan and Carmen were flying in and we were going to be spending Carnaval together
In our next blog, we pack more into one day that we ever thought possible and start sleeping during the day so that we can party well into the morning.