Passionate, exuberant Rio comes alive when Carnival begins. As the temperature heats up, so do days of seemingly endless parades, balls and parties in Cidade Maravilhosa, or the Marvelous City, as Rio is sometimes called. It has to do with people, with the color, with the music, with the spirit of the Brazilian people. The whole country stops for four days. It is amazingly cheerful, and full of joy, like a perfect world wide party.
Carnival is a party where everybody lets it all hang loose. It is time to forget inhibitions, wear a wild costume, play a character, and live our fantasies. Carnival has a different effect on each person, but it was created just with one objective for everyone and that is to have a lot of fun, to forget our routine life, worries, responsibilities and to adventure at least once in our lives, because this experience no one will ever forget.
However, I have had the chance of being there with my friends from Ecuador, and it is just unbelievable and difficult to describe. All those bright colors, people singing, dancing samba as wild animals in a free place, make one thinks we are just at home. Nevertheless, this country is so warm, so full of friendship and emotion that it seems as if it is a jungle alive, and listening to the loud sounds of different animals. We feel the silence of the wind blowing in the body sharing joy as a group of kids with no worries in a playground. In the beginning one could feel pretty shy, anti-social, scared of what one is going through, like kids who have just come to a new place, or meeting new friends. Once they begin moving, they cant stop. That is how we were, just knowing one person in Brazil. But it was the most touching feeling ever.
As soon as we got there, people started inviting us to many places to see different presentations. One of the best was the floats that carried special guests named destaques. At the top of each float, we could find the main floatee. It was like the cherry in the ice cream. Framed by hundred of feathers, they wore costumes that were incredibly luxurious and expensive. For us, floats were the really feast to our eyes. Many had special effects such as a bird with flapping wings and a dragon spitting smoke. Every time a float passed by us, it was like kids who pass that unique energy to other people, even though most of the people who were in the floats were adults. The emotion, brightness, the feeling of freedom they carry with them is as contagious as a person who gets a cold and passes it to other people; one can not avoid that feeling.
The next day we went to Copacabana, a wild, unique and adventure beach. We could hear the waves breaking on the rocks, like glasses falling into pieces. The water was as clean and light blue as the peaceful sky. When we got back to the hotel, we decided to go to the Sambadrome. People were selling beer, food, and everyone else just trying to walk by. It did not take long before the scalpers found us and we bought two tickets for $6 each. There is no way to properly describe the colors and pageantry of Carnival at the Sambadrome. I will simply say it is one of those things that has to be seen in person to be properly experienced.
Each of the Samba Schools of Rio has its own turn to go down the street, with floats and costumes and its own Samba theme, in a well choreographed order. Each school has 85 minutes to get all of it is revelers from one end of the street to the other. It is all a huge competition with some sort of award and ceremony performed at the end of the two day event. On each of the first two nights the show starts at 7:00pm and does not end until after 6:00 the next morning. On this first night with our bad seats we mad it until 3:00am but agreed to come back the following night and get better seats.
For some reasons we could not go back the next day but we really enjoyed our time in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro taught us something; that smiling, happiness and no stress are very important to bring with you to this warm country, where they have the friendliest people on the planet, eager to meet you and share their wonderful Brazilian culture. For us, it was not a Carnival cruise, but a land tour and festival where we were part of the Carnival party.
Being in Rio was to reborn as a child, having that excitement when a kid gets the first toy, and will not ever forget it. Definitely, our heart pounded with excitement those few days and has been the most amazing days we have ever lived.