A perfect samba score, that was our trip to Rio. Food, beer, food, beer, beer, beer, samba, samba, samba, samba, samba, water, water, water, food, food, food, food, champagne, beer, caipiroskas, food, etc.
There is too much to write about to post it all in one go so I will start from the beginning and post in chunks. When we pulled into the Orthodontist’s driveway early Saturday morning, he was still packing his bag. Maria and Fernando had been to a churrasco de avestruz (ostrich barbeque) the evening before and Maria had told me she would be home by 10:30. Although I seriously doubted this, I refrained from calling her at that time to see if she was home. She came home at 1:00 a.m. and started to pack her suitcase. By now, the ostrich was not settling well in her tummy and well, you can figure out the rest.
However, when she came out of her bedroom Saturday morning, Maria clapped her hands and screamed “VAMOS ANIMAR!” This became the refrain for the trip. If someone showed even the slightest lack of enthusiasm, Maria’s hands would clap with a sound reminiscent of a firecracker and she would yell at us to perk up. She especially liked to do this from the back seats of taxis, to the dismay or sometimes, amusement, of the taxi driver. She was the trip leader and chief decision maker, a role that the rest of us greatly appreciated.
The weather upon arrival in Rio was perfect. While I had prayed for safe travel, Maria prayed for no rain. Both prayers were answered. We were met at the airport by Sr. Carlos, a taxi driver Maria had arranged previously to take us to the hotel. Half of the trunk of his car was taken up by a gas tank leaving very little room for luggage. Maria’s suitcase was eventually shoved into the back windowshield, resting on the back of my, Maria’s, and Fernando’s necks, a position we decided was not suitable for travel later in the week to the town of Petropolis. And this was before we had even seen the costumes.
The Hotel Gloria was once one of Rio’s grand hotels. A little faded, perhaps, or maybe even dingy to travel snobs, but we had a beautiful view of the Sugarloaf and Guanabara Bay from our windows and the price was right. (We had decided that the $8,500 US dollars for 4 nights at the Copacabana Palace was out of our price range, both in this lifetime and the next.) We adjourned to the pool to drink beer and wait for our costumes. The pool, featured above, is the best part of the hotel and I would venture to guess, better than any other in Rio. Better even than the Copacabana Palace which lacks charm and tropical vegetation. When it became apparent the Edmilson, the costume deliverer, would in fact not be there for several hours, we piled into a taxi and went to Braccarense, a famous street bar in Ipanema populated with middle-aged Rio cognoscenti (those in the know). I recognized several faces from my avid reading of the magazine Caras, Brazil’s answer to People. The people watching was over the top. Maria and I bought pink headbands with feelies (?) on the top to get us in the mood.
Upon returning to the hotel, we met Edmilson on the street outside the hotel and collected our costumes which had were stuffed into big black garbage bags. We asked him if we should try them on. He said no. Both Maria and I thought this a bad idea but we went with the flow – he looked harrassed enough already. If there was a problem, he said, we could call his mother Nea, the person in charge of the Depois Eu Digo samba wing and we’d sort it out later.
Here is what you need to pack if you go to parade in Rio for Carnaval:
1) hot glue gun and extra sticks
2) sewing kit (Maria had one!)
3) elastic and safety pins
4) sunglasses – no stores are open (an item Mr. Understanding forgot)
5) a sense of humor
The next day Edmilson brought us elastic. We had already been to the one open store and they had none. Mr. Understanding was able to purchase, later on Monday, a nice pair of $4 sunglasses at this fine store, Lojas Americanas Express.
And now, dear friends, I am off to do some laundry, buy cat food, and make my bed just like regular folk do. I will post more tomorrow as I have not even gotten to the good parts. The party is over but I am still living it in my head and it will be enough to carry me through Lent, while Mr. Understanding is humping luggage throughout Asia and I am missing him in his fantasia.