Tag Archives: Brazil

Colorful Sambodromo Parade

Colorful Sambodromo Parade

Carnival season 2014 is just finishing up across many parts of the world. Among other things, Carnival celebrates the exit of winter and the entry of spring. The largest and most famous of all —  the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — took place this week. The city’s six million residence and more than 900,000 tourists crowded into the streets for days of rowdy, joyous parades and extravagant processions by the city’s best samba schools.

In 2011 my wife and I traveled to Rio to celebrate Carnival and take part in one of the world’s greatest festivals.

Part of the celebration is the various samba schools from in an around Rio build floats to march through the Sambódromo. The parade lasts five or six hours and each school has about an hour to do with what they choose.

In the image above, members of the São Clemente samba school perform during their allotted time at the Sambódromo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Colorful Floats of Carnival

Brazil’s Carnival parades in the Sambódromo maybe aren’t what you’d expect. They aren’t full of firefighters and politicians, and it certainly isn’t like anything the Pixar film “Rio” depicted. Each Samba school gets 90 minutes to perform and they take up their entire time slot using dozens of elaborate floats and thousands of volunteers dancing their way down the nearly half-mile (700m) stretch of street.

The colors of the floats are mesmerizing, as are the stories they depict. We were fortunate to be going the night of the two biggest schools performing and at about four o’clock in the morning, exhausted, we made our way back towards our hotel. The parade would last three more hours with two more schools parading.

In the above picture, members of the Imperatriz samba school perform at the Sambódromo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during the 2011 Carnival celebration.

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Young Reveler at Carnival in Brazil

My wife and I love attending different celebrations around the world. It’s interesting to see so many similarities between so many different cultures.

In Pamplona, Spain, we watched a small boy and his grandfather keeps tabs on things while the Running of the Bulls took place below their balcony.  In the above pictures, taken in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a father carries his daughter through mayhem on the safety of his shoulders. She was dressed for the occasion, but still wide-eyed as the revelers celebrated around them.

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Cristo Redentor

Having spent “a long weekend” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for Carnaval, I really, really wanted to charter a helicopter to go take a few shots from above Christ the Redeemer; essentially the picture would be looking over Christ’s shoulder at the city.  Mother Nature, on the other hand, decided to throw cloudy and foggy conditions during our time there and made it impossible to see 100 yards in front of us, much less the city a half-mile below.

My wife and I still made the trek to the top of Corcovado mountain to see the statue up-close, however.

As a hockey fan, I had been referencing Christ the Redeemer the entire trip as “No Goal Jesus,” based loosely on Ohio’s “Touchdown Jesus.”

In the NHL, when a goal is reviewed, the referee will skate shy of center ice and point to the scoring team’s bench to indicate a goal.  If the goal is reviewed and it turns out to not be a legitimate goal, the referee skates shy of center ice and extends his arms out to his side, parallel to the ice — basically the stance above.  Since hockey is my religion, Christ the Redeemer was quickly renamed “No Goal Jesus” in my book.

As if God was taunting us for renaming the statue, the weather was picturesque and charming the day we flew out.

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Helicopter Over Rio de Janeiro

While in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil the weather was unpredictable; the forecast for the next day would change three times in the 24 hours prior.  Like every bride planning a wedding, we were hoping for that iconic day with sunny skies and perfect clouds.  What we got, instead, was deary weather that was mostly cloudy with a light drizzle half of the days.

I had plans to go up into one of the site-seeing helicopters to circle Christ the Redeemer and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, however Mother Nature got in the way.  Instead, Alisha and I took the much-cheaper train to the top of Corcovado and took pictures of the iconic Brazilian statue in between the enveloping clouds.

The entire time at the summit of the famous hill, tour helicopters were taking paying customers up and around the stature for a speedy seven minute tour.   As a result, Christ the Redeemer sounds like a war zone between the choppers and the hustle and bustle of tourists … not to mention the security guards blowing their whistles at disobedient visitors.  My favorite was one helicopter run that we could hear but couldn’t see because the clouds were so thick.  I hope the customers received some sort of discount.

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Colors of Carnaval

A few years back I threw my 30th birthday party in Pamplona, Spain at the Running of the Bulls.  While we were there, we chatted with an old Spaniard at a bull fight and told him the Festival of San Fermin was quite a party.  He replied “(The Running of the Bulls) was no party.  Carnaval, in Rio, is a party!”

So Rio we went!

The colors.  The pageantry.  The samba school parade.  It was all fantastic.  The weather could have been better, but it also could have been much worse!

After getting our Brazilian visas in the nick of time Alisha and I hustled to the airport.  We flew in Thurday mid-day, which was good because (according to the local news) traffic was backed up for 200km getting into Rio de Janeiro on Friday.  Saturday the party opened with fiery as gallons upon gallons of beer were chugged, like prohibition started at midnight.  Men dressed as women, women dressed as men, and the party spanned the length of the city.  On the street, children sold beer out of coolers for R$5, while their mothers’ sold corn on the cob the next block down.

Sunday night Alisha and I went to the Sambadrome, a nearly half-mile stretch of performance space designed to accommodate the local samba schools and their 90-minute long parades. It is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before in my life.

Each of the four nights during Carnaval, six schools compete in front of judges (and 90,000 others).  The winning five teams are selected to perform the following weekend.  The samba parades start at 9PM and go until they’re finished — usually six or seven in the morning.  (Remember, each samba school gets 90-minutes to perform!)  During the daytime, the street parties were slightly more reserved, but when a local neighborhood community started their own parades, a party quickly ensued.  At Ipanema one evening, Alisha and I were engulfed in a passing parade.  We found a great spot under a palm tree to watch the spectacle pass by.

I’m not sure if the old Spaniard was our kick in the pants to go to Carnaval or if we would have eventually made it on our own.  Either way, we had a grand time at, quite possibly, the world’s greatest party.

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