This free time has enabled me to get some more writing done with posting about teaching and trips (seems to be the life goals at the moment). As such, I've decided to post about my trip to Rio which just happened to be during Carnaval. Carnaval is kind of like Mardi Gras if you live on the American coasts, you never think you're going to go, but if you do go then you get to see some of the craziest celebrations you'll ever see. While Carnaval's purpose is like Mardi Gras - celebrate debauchery before you get really pious - it is different in that the entire country of Brasil celebrates it. Rio is one of the three cities (the others are Salvador and Recife) that celebrates it the most.
I would arrive in Brasil on a Saturday evening wading my way through blocos, local mini Carnaval block parties that are free, in Botafogo (boat fire) before I got to the hotel. Due to Brasil, being another Portuguese-speaking country, I had a great time practicing my Portuguese with the hotel staff. For the first night, I really tried to find an ATM, which was difficult as only Citibank worked (figure out what your cards work with before you go!) and that was several walking blocks away.
While I saw some strange moments in the night, my vacation didn't really kick off until the next day in which I would head up to Corcovado (Cristo Redentor) with some South Africans and a cool jeep tour guide. Afterwards, we ventured into a little bit of the Tijuca forest which is filled with lush vegetation and back through the beaches (Leblon, Ipanema, and Copacabana) to my hotel. Now, if you look at my other travelblogs you'll note that tours are rare for me; however, let's just say I learned how to travel if I ever went with a significant other.
After, I would meet up with a Brasilian friend of a friend who showed me Lapa, Escaderia de Selaron, and Santa Teresa. In Santa Teresa, we stumbled on my first bloco (the metro even tells you when and where they are) with strobes, music, floats, batterias, the entire age spectrum dancing from 8 to 80 years old (I've never seen so many drunken old women), and pure wildness. I would also try Acai -a glorious amazonian berry- and Mate here both wonderful food/beverages in Brasil.
The next day I would embark on a favela tour of Rocinha which was not only extremely safe, but intriguing as well. Ever since the World Cup and new female president Dilma, the favelas have become safer with continued police presence, better internet, electricity, water and structure building guidelines. This is impressive as is the organic pricing and extremely long walks up and down stairs to get to the top of the favela - prompting some motorcycle taxis. During this trip, I met some kind Australians including a lady who I shared caipirinhas with. I would then see the Rio beaches and churrascarias (yum!) at night (fine because it's safe and celebratory during Carnaval) and become convinced that Australia was completely worth my time to visit.
The following day I would enjoy the cable cars of Pao de Azucar (Sugarloaf!), the floats for the main Sambodromo of Carnaval, the beach and garota(girl) from Ipanema - if only people were as free-spirited on the beach here as there- and a bloco that went right by my hotel. The day after I would finish up with a trip to the World Cup stadium Maracana and meeting some wonderful Brasilian women before I headed out.
Note about the women in Brasil, they are gorgeous and easy to get along with; however, it is different how many have had plastic surgery for their bottoms as it is so important that most women young and old have had surgery there. This is a contrast to what the most surgical alterations in America are.
Overall, I had a great time with the great people and food (empanadas, frutas e sucos!) and would enjoy going back for the Summer Olympics, Salvador or who knows when as it is a fun and entertaining city & country. Also, if you want to go to Carnaval, go now as you will probably be too old to handle it later on....or will you.