One packed week and some serious partying
Trip Start Dec 21, 2009
43Trip End Jul 17, 2010
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After our photo op with Jesus Christ, the next port of call was the world famous Maracana Stadium to watch the semi finals of the Rio de Janeiro Cup (called the Carioca Cup)
As soon as the game was done, we high-tailed it out of there to get back to our hotel because we had to get over to Rocinha to collect our costumes and join our Samba school in the big parade. If that last sentence has you puzzled, then please go through our two previous blog posts before going any further. I don’t mean to dole out recommended reading but in this case, it’s kinda important.
So where were we? Oh yeah, getting a cab over to Rocinha so we could keep this party going. The four of us (Nic, Ilan, Carmen and I) caught a cab over to Rocinha while we briefed the Goldsteins about what to expect. Right on cue, as soon as we got out of the cab, we had a lady pointing a huge machine gun at us as a joke. We ignored her and kept walking, there wasn’t much else to do really. We made our way through the maze of Rocinha at night (a trip I had done many times after jiu jitsu training) and got to the house
Our big moment came and the Goldsteins bought some tickets from a scalper to watch us from the stands. A little after 3.30am, Rocinha Samba School was on the move and the singing and drumming began. We turned the corner, singing in Portugese when BAM, the Sambadrome hit us. 1.5kms of well lit samba stadium with thousands of people there to cheer us on. We Samba’d down the drome for nearly and hour and a half and loved every minute of it. It gives me butterflies just re-living the moment. Now I know why people do this year in and year out. There are people of all ages here
We met up with the Goldsteins after we were done and the four of us must have been blabbering like idiots, the Goldsteins telling us what they saw from the stands and us telling them what we saw from the runway. We caught the train back to the hotel, still floating on the high of Carnaval and the day that we had. To top things off, we were just in time for the hotel restaurant opening for breakfast so we put a decent dent into the buffet before retiring to bed for much needed rest.
The next evening had us visiting the Sambadrome again but first it was a quick stop at the local bloco (block party) around the neighbourhood of the hotel, Flamengo. A truck blasts live Samba music with musicians atop, going around the neighbourhood as the locals follow along and dance in the street. These blocos happen in many neighbourhoods during Carnaval time and at any time of the day. We made a smooth exit out of the bloco and caught a train to the Sambadrome, this time with seats in the stands of section 13 to watch the first night of the Special Group (this was the top flight league of Samba schools). The crowd in section 13 is made up of locals so it was great partying with them and hearing them cheer on the Samba school they were supporting and singing along
Again, we left late in the festivities and made our way back to the hotel in the morning. The customary stop by the breakfast buffet over, we had showers and slept just before the sun rose, our transitions into vampires now complete. We awoke in the afternoon and walked by Flamengo beach to recover from the festivities the night before. Nicole and I had another appointment with the Sambadrome, this time on the second night of the Special Group and better seats. The lighting was so much better and we were so much closer to the action and right in the middle of the 1.5km Sambadrome. I went a little nuts with the pictures that night and we had a blast.
True to form, we stayed until the end and caught the train back to the hotel. We woke the Goldsteins up and had breakfast just as the buffet opened again. Shower and sleep (seeing a pattern here?) before crawling out of bed to go to Sugar Loaf Mountain with the group. The views were again spectacular as the pictures should show. It’s hard to take a bad picture here. When we finished with the mountain, the four of us tried to find a bloco in St Teresa (a cool suburb in one of the mountains of Rio). By the looks of things we missed the bloco by a good 6 hours so we settled in for a nice dinner overlooking the city and the lit Sambadrome before heading back to the hotel
Up early the next morning today had us hang gliding off one of the mountains inside the Tijuca National Forest with Ilan and Paul and Bec (a lovely couple we met during our trip through Central America) and of course Nic and I. The mountain we would launch ourselves off was the mountain that we saw every morning when we woke up and looked out of our window at Rocinha. After signing liability forms (I’m not sure what the use of that was, like we had a chance of suing in Brazil we anything went wrong), we went up the mountain and had a quick briefing before running off a wooden runway and launching ourselves off the mountain. I went hang gliding and Nic went paragliding. When your instructor/pilot gives me instructions, the only thing that I remember from the briefing session was, "Don’t touch anything and keep running. Don’t stop, keep running". When he gave me the OK, I was off and running like Forrest Gump being chased by his local bullies (except thankfully, the metal bits stayed on and didn’t fall off my body like it did for Polio ridden Forrest). If I remember my words just after we left the platform, then went something like, “F#!*ing Hell, this is AWESOME!!!” All I heard was the pristine sound of wind on the glider and the sound of my heart pounding with exhiliration
The evening was spent going on a cruise around Guanabarra Bay on a massive boat with the rest of our tour group. The weather was great, the views were stunning and it was one of those evenings that we won’t forget in a long time. We smoked cigars, drank Capirinhas and talked about the great time we had. It was a fitting end to a hectic week of partying and activities. It was a very special time, full of great memories that we could share with great friends. Please, do yourselves a favour and get to Rio for Carnaval week. You won’t regret it. When you decide to go, be sure to drop your good buddies the Tans and email and let us know, we might just join you for a second run at it.
Please join us in our next blog post, we meet up with the rest of our Dragoman group, the vast majority of which we will be living in super close proximity to for the next 4 months. I’ll also take you around our truck which we will be calling home and the Tans actually pitch a tent AND sleep in it.