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Published: April 7th 2010
Rio. Sam and I got off the bus, took a cab from the bus station to the hostel in Copacabana (humming "at the copa, copa-cabana . . ." in my head). We get there, check in, and go up to our room. Our keys don't work - it's not just that they don't work, they're the wrong kind of key. So Sam goes back down while I wait with the stuff (lots of stairs to be carrying our stuff up and down), and eventually they come back with an employee who confirms that our keys, are, in fact, wrong. Then she goes back down, gets a key, and lets us in. They only have two copies of the key, so they say they'll have one made and give it to me that afternoon. They don't. In fact, I never got a copy of the room key because they gave their only other copy to our later-to-check-in roommate.
We bought our tickets to the Carnaval parade from the hostel's tour guy (Section 4). This was a good idea. Yes, we paid a small markup, but it was easy, and much much much cheaper than buying them online ahead of time would
have been (really, I'm glad we didn't get caught in that trap - buying online from tour companies targeted at foreigners you pay a 300% or more markup). Although the seating for most of the parts of the Sambodrome are general admission we ended up sitting in basically the front of the section, so we had a great view. For the actual parade, which we went to see on Monday (Feb 15), we arrived just as the first school was ending. That was around 11:30pm or so. There were five more samba schools. Each performance is about an hour of people walking and dancing by, with 8 or 10 floats interspersed. As the end of the group goes by, the maintenance crew comes and sweeps up the confetti and fallen costume pieces up off the ground. Really quite an operation. One of the highlights: in between one set, one of the broom guys starts dancing - really quite well - to the delight of the crowd. Not sure if he got fired immediately, since he didn't do any sweeping, but it was pretty awesome. Oh, and so were the floats and costumes. It's a competition, for those that didn't know
- and there were clearly schools that put on a better show than others - better choreography, costumes, themes, etc. I'm not going in to detail here on the parade - you can see some photos or read up on it on your own - but each school chooses a theme, writes a song (that is sung/played continuously for the entire school's parade), and then has floats, dancers, and the like.
Aside from the parade we spent some time on the beach (the water was cold! only a couple hours north of ilha grande . . .), overlooking Rio from Sugarloaf, and, of course, partying. In the hostel - actually, in our room - we met a guy that Sam had stayed with in Iguazu a few weeks prior - and a guy from California. We went to Lapa most nights to enjoy one of the big street parties. Then, during the day, we went to a bunch of block parties, which were basically a big truck with a band playing samba music and vendors selling water and beer everywhere, plus a bunch of people dancing. We did go to one alternative sort of party, where they played a
Lapa Arches in the background.
whole bunch of American music (everything from "Rock Around the Clock" to Greenday) but in a somewhat samba-inspired style. We have our back-home network and Facebook to thank for that - an old schoolmate of Sam and my brother's who moved to Chicago when they were entering first grade had studied in Rio and started dating a girl there. Although he's moved to LA, Sam had been in contact with him and got put in touch with his girlfriend, who met us and took us to that street party (and a few others as well). So yeah, we partied in the streets. A lot. Because whenever one party was ending, another one was starting somewhere else. Continuously, all over the city, 24 hours a day.
And yes, Jay, I kissed a girl.
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