During summer 2017 – 2018 I went for the first time to Brazil. I felt so in love with the country, met amazing people, started surfing and learning Portuguese so I decided to change my return ticket just to stay a little longer. With the German passport, you can stay up to 90 days and my visa expired the 11. February. Carnaval started the 9. and lasted until the 13. (unofficial) so I had a few days to get my taste of Carnaval. Let me tell you something, these two days were not enough for me! The second I was back home, I already dreamed about going back for next years Carnaval and I did!
Official & inofficially; the official Carnaval is 4-days from Saturday until Tuesday and you will have a lot of blocos the Friday prior and still some blocos from Wednesday on for the rest of the week. Inofficially it already starts up to 6-weeks prior and you will have blocos during the weekends, so on Saturday and Sundays.
Even though the first blocos started weeks ago, I only managed to go to a bloco on the last Sunday before Carnaval. We went to Se Não Quiser Dar, Me Empresta at the beach of Ipanema, which is just an amazing location. Weirdly enough, I was not really in the Carnaval mood yet. I waited nearly 13 months for this period, everybody who met me during this time knows how much I love Brazil and people around me would always end up with glitter on themselves. Costume 1: A crop top I bought in Jericoacoara, my jeans shorts and a flower crown. Kinda hippie, kinda ..? The glitter, purple stones, bigger gold glitter and a mix of fuchsia as well as light pink glitter.
Blocos what? Whenever we think of Brazil we also think of Carnaval but we think more about the big Samba parade, which is one side of Carnaval. You can enjoy the biggest Samba schools from Rio de Janeiro every night during Carnaval at the Sambadrom. The other side of Carnaval is the blocos in the street. They can be smaller ones with a band (batteria) and just a few people, with a lot of drums (my favourite), artists dressed up or big trailers with live music, singers like Anitta (she has her own bloco though) and up to 700 000 people or even DJs‘. More or less everybody could start their own bloco. It is about fun, music and drinking but also to speak out about politics, this year especially about the assassination of Marille Franco one year ago (I tried to explain a bit more about Marielle in First 8M march – Rio de Janeiro) or other issues like racism.
Firstly, I was so worried because I was on my own. Yes, I had friends going and whom I could have joined but that is always a bit tricky because the city is crazy and crowded which makes it hard to meet up with someone, and it is just so much nicer to get ready with someone. Anyways, on Friday morning I was in my hostel in Recreio and saw that girl (we talked briefly the night before) preparing her costume and offered her help. We ended up drinking Caipirinhas before lunchtime. I present you Lau my Carnaval buddy but back then I did not know that. So after getting ready and leaving my luggage at my new hostel in the Center of Rio de Janeiro, we grabbed a beer and walked to Lapa from where we would try to find Bloco das Carmelitas which is in Santa Teresa and where we wanted to join some people. We tried and failed because it was just such a long walk away and we were not sure how long the bloco would last. But as there was a great atmosphere and music around the Escalera de Selaron we stayed there and quickly made some local friends. Being the first one to shake your bum bum when the drums start helps to make local friends! We walked a bit around, at this moment I did not know it but while writing this I realize how well we worked together. Lau always checked if I was good and helped me out of some situations. We ended up with a group of Brazilians and it started to rain like crazy. After a while, as the rain did still not stop, so Lau tried to get a taxi to Recreio which was crazy expensive, so my drunk ass decided to sneak her into my 18-bed dorm room haha. In the pouring rain, we walked back to my hostel and stopped in a bar to eat the weirdest food ever but at that moment we thought it was the best food (don’t eat dry fish when drunk) and even ordered more! Back in the street, we realized that Rio is not used to that much rain, we would have been quicker with a canoe as some streets were flooded. Once at my hostel the sneaking in did partly work out, the reception lady run after us to the second floor to ask Lau if she was a guest or not. As it was late and the room was cheaper than the drive back, Lau just booked a bed for the night. Costume 2: I felt a bit like a rainbow space kid as I wore a rainbow body, a pink fanny pack (which I lend from Ieva and would accompany me those coming days) and the tutu from last year, which is a kids size. The glitter, again the purple tones but this time applied in a line and gold glitter.
Did you know the first blocos start at 7 AM? At 5:30 AM the first people in my room got up and a friend called me to let me know he will be leaving soon. No way I’ll go to a bloco at 7 AM, I stayed in bed and had breakfast at 8 AM. Lau joined me there to let me know that she would stay for another night. YEEEESSSSSS 🎉🎉🎉🎉 We got ready and grabbed some beers on the way to Parque do Flamengo where the bloco Amigos da Onça (a lot of people dress up as Jaguars as ‚Onça‘ is Portuguese for Jaguar) took place. So this was one of the blocos that started at 7 AM and after staying there for 30 minutes, randomly meeting people from last night, it was over. Maybe next time I will go to a bloco at 7 AM who knows!? We stayed a bit there, had the strongest caipirinha in the history of caipirinhas after which I was drunk at 1 PM and then went with friends to Bloco do Barbas. On the way, Lau feed me some Salgado with mustard haha can you believe we knew each other for only one day? Once we arrived we lost everybody but that’s Carnaval. This bloco was different to Amigos da Onça, more touristy (when referring to Carioca I am talking about locals from Rio de Janeiro, tourist are all Brazilian people who are not from the state of Rio de Janeiro and gringos are all foreigners, no matter if from Latin America, Europe etc) but so. much. fun. and a lot of kissing ooopppssss. Being the Girl Power Girl I am, I was fixing costumes, applying more glitter if needed and told every second person how great their costume is. What I love about Brazilian girls is that they are super friendly and easy to have a conversation with (especially when you speak Portuguese), so we quickly found new friends. God knows how many pictures I have with girls I just met and how many I followed on Instagram! Some memorable costumes we saw were a guy dressed up as a shower, Alan from Hangover which we only realized when he was running like crazy in-between cars and my favourite, a referee (football)!! He took his costume so so serious, we could not stop laughing as he would run around and give people yellow cards, people started arguing with him just like during a regular football match to which they received a red card, in short, this guy was super extra and amazing! It was only around 6 PM but being tired and as it started to get dark, we went back to the hostel where we had some food and went to sleep. Well, I already slept on the kitchen table while Lau made dinner. Costume 3: My idea was to be a mermaid as I love mermaids. So I did wear a light turquoise sequin top, a purple tutu and a shell crown. The glitter, bigger light blue stones and some looking like pearls, silver and purple glitter.
Early Sunday morning Lau went back to her hostel to pick up some stuff and would join me again a bit later. A friend of mine joined as well and we wanted to go to Cordão do Boi Tolo which is a 15 hours bloco. It started at 7 AM and did pass by my hostel at around 9 AM but by the time the girls were in the centre the bloco obviously had already moved. As usual with a beer (this is why I love Lau, we always had beers or caipirinhas no matter the time), we tried to find Boi Tolo with the help of Instagram but we did end up in an LGBT bloco (I only found out 2 days later that it was not Boi Tolo but another bloco though), after a few caipirinhas we decided to go to Leblon. Never take a bus during Carnaval, it took us ages to go from Flamengo to Leblon and just a bit after we arrived it started raining. We started dancing in the rain but that changed to a storm and it did not look like it would stop anytime soon. (There were heavy rain showers during the evenings these past weeks). But this time was extreme, on the way to the metro we had water until our knees! In the pouring rain a guy who sells corn passed by and we ended up eating corn. Priorities! In the metro back home I found the love of my life and lost him there as well. Costume 4: Some friends used to call me Tinkerbell, so this was my attempt at being her. A kinda neon green top with a fitting tutu and a flower crown. The glitter, some face glitter jewels added by green and silver glitter.
The lesson of Monday morning, it is not a good idea to let me wait with glitter because I end up covered and also cover people I just met in the bathroom of my hostel. As it is Carnaval I went out in just a bra and a tutu. It’s CARNAAVAAAAAL guys!!! After covering my poor new friend Kenza in glitter we went to Lapa where we would meet Lau. From there we went to our caipirinha lady, gave Kenza a little sightseeing tour as nothing is better than sightseeing in costumes and starting chasing blocos again (I learned from my mistakes!). As we could not find any we ended up going to Leblon but the bloco there also already ended. Only because the bloco is over does not mean there is no more party. There is always someone with a big bass who will play funk carioca, which I love ❤ . You can often hear ‚3 para R$10′ meaning, 3 small beer cans for R$10. Later we joined a friend in their little local Carnaval celebration close to Leblon beach. We were the only gringas surrounded by Cariocas in the middle of drums. Once the drums started, you could feel that energy and so many emotions, my face hurt from smiling. I found some Cariocas who taught me how to samba and I failed but they are happy whenever someone tries. Got never-ending refiles of beer and got made fun off because I drank my beers ‚hot‘ as Brazilians drink their beers ice cold. We were supposed to go to another bloco but stayed, it was just too amazing. This was a moment I will never forget in my whole life! Costume 5: A girl from my room gave me this feather hairband and that tutu, I just added my bra and glitter. A lot of glitter! Some silver and light pink jewels with a lot of differently shaped gold glitter and even more fuchsia glitter. Please, do not let me too long alone with glitter!
On the last official day of Carnaval, my Carnaval buddy Lau did abandon me, she had to work. I found another friend I could join and met him at Largo do Machado, where we had Açaí at Tacaca do Norte and then walked along the beach of Flamengo to find the bloco Orquestra Voadora. We were somewhere around Av. Infante Dom Henrique in Glória close to Praça Paris and there was a crazy amount of people. Going closer to the bloco itself it got super crowded, people pushing from every direction but we got the chance to see it from close. I loved the messages from the artist on stilts, as they were about racism like ‚Black lifes matter‘ or marking the length of women clothes and their deifniton in our society like if she wears a long skirt she is a prude and a short skirt is a slut. As it was getting more and more crowded and people started pushing from everywhere, I neede to get out of there. After sitting on the lawn and having some water, I decided I would just walk back to my hostel. You see what happens when you are without your Carnaval buddy?! Costume 6: Stay Gold! A black bikini top with a yellow tutu I got from a girl from my room. Around Largo do Machado I found a guy selling golden earrings I have been looking for (you could also easily do them yourself). The glitter, I cut some of the bigger face jewels and added a lot of golden glitter.
Official Carnaval is over but Rio de Janeiro keeps on celebrating another five days!
Even though it was not officially Carnaval anymore, we were still in the mood and wanted to give it another try. The reception lady told me about an amazing bloco with only women. Sounds good! I met Lau and Ju in Lapa from where we went to Largo do Machado, even though the bloco already left we found some people who were looking for it as well and thanks to their friends, who send them the location, we found it! This bloco called Mulheres Rodadas was only women artist and musicians and left quite an impression on me, this is why it will get its own post (I will try to do it in the coming days). After this bloco, our day was not over yet. We had a quick lunch at Tacaca do Norte again (remember I went there yesterday!), it is always crowded and a bit more expensive compared to other places but the food is really amazing. You should definitely try their Açaí and the Coxinha de Caranguejo or Casquinha de Carangueijo both crab-based meals. From there we walked to Santa Teres to go to the bloco Me Enterra Na Quarta (Bury me on Wednesday). Santa Teresa is on a hill, so always a good idea to walk up there but we have not been to any blocos in Santa Teresa nor even been there. It was about time and Santa Teresa is amazing! Little narrow streets, street art like graffitis and paintings, little shops and art galleries. After stopping at an art gallery where we got a refill in caipirinhas, we went to the meeting point of the bloco. The bloco started and we went through the narrow street of Santa Teresa (pro stay in front of the bloco as there is usually more space), it started to rain but that wouldn’t hold-up anybody. Costume 7: It was never a dress! Lau bought me a cape which I wore with a black body and jeans short as I was too shy to go without shorts. The glitter, I had enough glitter these days so I just went for the bigger gold on my face and body, and added some smaller gold and red glitter on my decolté.
This was my Carnaval 2019!
What I learned for the next year: Leave earlier, I will definitely get up at 5:30 AM to join some blocos at 7 AM like Amigos da Onça and Boi Tolo. I will choose a different location for my hostel, as it was quite scary to walk home sometimes. Regarding the outfit, fuck it and go without shorts, next time my ass will be out way more often! Also, I will get myself a plastic cup which I can hang around my neck for my caipirinhas, that way I won’t have to use single-use plastic. Find advice about how to pick your costume and general rules for Carnaval in the post Tips & tricks, Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro