Tag Archives: Rio de Janeiro

Carnaval 2014!!

Then there was the big day! I had to be at the Samba Drome at 11 o’ clock in the evening and would be parading at night from 1:20 to 2:00. I had to get out at the metro station “Praça once” and would be in sector 6, ala 27. There I would find the concentration. The concentrations is the line you wait in before you enter the Samba Drome. I took a shower, dressed up and took the headpiece and some other large parts of the fantasia with me in a large, plastic bag. I took a taxi to the metro station and was on my own from there on. I saw a few other people also dragging a large, plastic bag with the larger pieces of their fantasia. People like to talk with you, because they know you are going to parade. Off course everyone spoke to me in Portuguese, to find out that I was sort of a gringo. Hahaha. I arrived at the concentration and needed to use the toilet. Believe me, it is hard to use the toilet with your fantasia on and especially a public, plastic festival toilet. I had my all-time favorite sunglasses stuffed on my waste and forgot about them when using the toilet. They *plop* just fell in to the awfully dirty water of the toilet. Can you believe that I loved these glasses so much, that for a split second I had this crazy thought of fishing them out. Only a split second though hahaha. Ah well, you win something, you loose something as long as you win more than you loose, you’ll be ok.


I met dozens of people with the same outfit. Must be my formation. We helped each other get fully dressed. The atmosphere became more tense as we lined up in the concentration. We also got introduced to our director. Each sector has it’s own director, telling you to go slower, faster, stay in line, stop etc. We wait for hours in the concentration, like caged bulls wanting to get out. Then the first section of our school hit the Samba Drome. Each entering of a school is heralded with a large firework show. I was in section 6, so it would take a little while before it was our turn. The song of the school started to play in the Samba Drome, we could hear it from far, together with the fireworks and all the people in my section started to hum along with the song. That was a beautiful, meditative, intense moment! Then I suddenly realized where I was: About to enter the great Samba Drome with thousands of people for the Carnival 2014! I got in my zone. Bam! And there it started… my sector was moving, we danced, I could hear the music getting louder and suddenly I was surrounded by loud drums, cheering people and beautiful colors. The director started to yell directions. My section was horrible at making a straight line, he got frustrated and we almost gave the director a heart attack. Eventually no one even listened to him and just enjoyed their moment. We absorbed the energy of the crowd and danced like there was no tomorrow. I completely got in my role even caught myself, giving hand kisses to the audience and do the queen wave. Frans!? Really? Hahaha. Instead of 1:20 we had left at nearly 3 o’ clock and the walk took like 40 minutes, which felt like 10. My pants were constantly sacking, because of my samba moves, but that couldn’t stop me.


After I left the Samba Drome I was full of adrenaline. A dutch couple wanted to make a picture with me, thinking I was Brazilian. I heard them speaking in Dutch and understood everything they said. They didn’t knew that. “Pak jij de camera dan!” “Waar is dat ding!?” “In je tas, in je tas!!” “Schiet you op, straks loop tie door. Vraag die vent dear om een foto the nemen!” I kept my mouth shut, until the flashlight hit and the picture was made. “Staan we er goed op?” I asked them in dutch. Hahaha. They were completely shocked and couldn’t believe I was from the Netherlands and got to walk with the parade. And I thought to myself yeah… I freaking did it! One more off my bucket list ;-)

That night I returned to the hostel. Took of my Carnaval outfit and went to sleep with a smile. The next morning my whole outfit was spread across the room. Ozzy the hotel dog, paid us a little visit! Lol

Copacabana, Ipanema & Lapa

Fortunately I moved to another hostel in Botafogo, much closer to the beach. I had to pick up my fantasia (samba costume) at the same day as my checkin with the new hostel. This would mean I had to carry my backpack, daypack and the fantasia. The instructions for the location where again a bit vague, but the taxi driver managed to get me there. I checked the street name and street number and paid the taxi driver. However there was no sign of life at the address. Only an iron door. There I stood with all my belongings, in a strange neighborhood. My first plan was to fetch another taxi to the hostel, because I didn’t trust the neighborhood. Then suddenly the iron door opened and a woman waved me in. The door was immediately closed behind me. I saw a shack full of fantasia’s. Now I understand the caution. I recalled a fire in three Sambaschools back in 2011 destroying all the costumes. Investigation could not point out anything. The rivalry between the schools is harsh. A guy asked me if my name was Francis. (That’s how all the Brazilians call me. At one point I stopped correcting them ;)) I nodded yes and then he started picking all the parts of my fantasia together. The name of my fantasia was “Energia Eólica”!!! Yeah baby! Luckily I insisted on trying the complete fantasia before I left. The guy hated me for that, but I insisted. And luckily I did! Because I found out that the trousers where too short, the shoes too small and the sweater too large. We tried and tried until the outfit was ok. I stuffed a taxi with my backpack, daypack, fantasia with the windmill scepter hanging outside the window. Up to the next hostel! Hahaha

In this next hostel I met this crazy and cozy group of people with whom I would hang out the remaining days in Rio. I also met…. Ozz the hostel dog. When I first arrived in the hostel I told the owner that he was a cute dog. The owner answered: “He is the devil”. The owner was right. ;-) Hahaha I don’t like dogs, but this guy is another story. He ruined everybody’s life in the hostel, but still we loved him. The owner of the hostel found him on the streets of Brazil, so he must be gangster. ;-) At night he went through all our stuff. A bag of cookies, socks, sneakers.. nothing was safe, but we forgave him, because he was Ozzy.

The whole city was breathing Carnival. Before this I thought it was quite calm in the city. But now all over town there where these blocos, Brazilian block parties with live music, lot’s of people and Caipharinas. It was a sport to get to the best and most secret bloco to later brag that you had been there. Through an acquaintance of a guy at the hostel we heard about a bloco at Santa Theresa. We had to take the metro, go up the hill and on top of the hill we suddenly saw hundreds of people. Crazy!!

You also had blocos along the strip of Copacabana which were more like beach parties with pumping dance music. And again my Anderson Da Silva image didn’t leave me alone. One drunk guy pointed at me and shouted “Da Silva”. His friends quickly followed and surrounded me, shouting Da Silva. Before I know it, more people on the beach followed and I was jumping up and down with dozens of people all chanting my name, which off corse isn’t mine. Well it got me free beer though! ;-) Crazy experience!

We also went to Lapa, the real party district of Rio with loads of bars, clubs and blocos. We took the metro and missed the stop. Then we took the metro back, focused, but missed the stop again. After the third time we were told that the stop is skipped, because it is out of order, but we could get there through a special pathway by getting out at a stop before and walk. Felt a bit like the secret doorway on the Harry Potter train station hahaha. I loved Lapa. Great atmosphere, crowded, samba bumping out of the speakers. We even went to a real Hip-Hop club, where they played real good Hip-Hop music and the local Brazilians had great dance battles. We also went to the Escadaria Selarón staircases, featured in the 2002 “Beautiful” music video by Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrel Williams. The picture there started as a picture of our little group, but through some energy more and more people wanted to get in the picture. We ended up with everyone on the stairs screaming: Cheeeese!!!

We partied for more than four days in a row. Even when you are tired, Rio gives you the energy to keep on partying. One day I decided to take it easy and just go to the supermarket to buy some food. I ended up in a bloco right across the supermarket and before I know it, I got sucked in to the Carnival again. Though the city gives you this natural energy, a little help from an energy drink now and then is not that bad Hahaha. I soon learned that if you order “Redbull” they have no idea what you are talking about until you pronounce it like “HedgeBully”. This resulted in awkward conversations like… Me: “I would like a Redbull!” Bartender: “A what!?” Me: “Redbull!” Bartender: “I don’t understand” Me: “A HedgeBully!!!” Bartender: “Aaaah, ok!!” Seriously!? Lol

It wasn’t only party. At one time we did a nightly work out on the beach. Again a mini ghetto workout ;-)

I try to speak as much Portuguese as I can. Even have full conversations in Portuguese. Some Brazilians want to learn English. Then we will switch to English. But all in all, my Portuguese is improving. I reached a new Milestone: I successfully helped to translate between an English speaking guest and Portuguese speaking staff at the hostel.

When I tell people I’m from the Netherlands, they immediately refer to Seedorf. They literally love him there! I once asked a janitor, who was surveilling a house, for directions to a party. We got to talk a little and he told me that Seedorf used to live in the house that he was surveilling and that he saw him go in and out every time. He is legendary to Botafogo. It makes me proud! Carnival is on it’s way…. I can’t wait.. can’t wait!!!

Corcovadoing it!

I arrived in Rio de Janeiro the “Cidade Maravilhosa”! At the bus station I had to wait for a taxi for almost an hour. This was an inverted world. Normally the taxi drivers flock around the potty, arrived, fresh, new tourist meat. This time around we all had to get in line and wait for a taxi to pick us up. My taxi ride was right through the Sambadrome, the big open air stadium where the Carnival parade takes place. They were busy constructing it all, so now cars can just drive through. It is on these grounds, that I will put my samba feet to an ever during Samba festivity. (Ok Frans, a bit too much LOL) Later on I went to the Sambadrome to see the Samba museum. Unfortunality it was closed, but strange enough I could just walk in de midst of the Sambadrome construction, without a helmet. The place was packed with construction workers. I really got to see the Sambadrome under construction. This is unthinkable in the Netherlands!

In Rio I booked two hostels. The first hostel is called Corcovado Hostel and I could have guessed it, but it is right at the foot of the steep Corcovado hill which holds the statue of “Cristo Redentor” on top. I could see the statue from within the garden of the hostel which is really nice, but the hostel was a 40 minute bus ride away from the city center with all the beaches, the restaurants, the clubs etc. and I had to make a 10 minute walk to the bus station. And on my return this 10 minute walk would take 20 minutes, because of the steep hill. Good exercise though! Even despite all this I liked the hostel. Nice swimming pool, music and the owner, a former Shell employee, ran the hostel with his sons and nephew. I kicked it off with the guys a lot. Here I also learned about Havaianas, the famous flip-flops from Brazil. The word actually means flip-flop in Portuguese. I didn’t know about them, until I looked at my feet. I was wearing Havaianas. Lol.

Brazil is famous for it’s fruit juices, which are called Suco. And now I know why. I got addicted to them. Name a fruit and they have a juice of it. You can even mix random fruits and add some mint or ginger to it. I loved the watermelon juice. The name of the fruits were in Portuguese. And because I don’t know all the names, I sometimes randomly chose the names I liked the most and then get the surprise. One time I had a really sour, unrecognizable juice. But that is part of the game Hahaha. I also liked Açai, which is a berry that they use in a lot of things from juice to ice-cream.

When I went to Rio in 2010 the “Cristo Redentor” was under construction because of a flood. Back then I knew I would come back. And so I did. I went to see the Cristo. After purchasing my ticket I had to wait in this room with pictures of the Cristo, Rio and other attractions hanging on the wall. There I experienced the best example of NOT living in the now. A guy taking a picture of the picture of Critso hanging on the wall. Wow! A little train brought us to the top of the hill, accompanied by a live samba band. At the top I had to fight with all the other tourist to take a picture, without someone having their arms, head or feet in your picture. The Cristo was spectacular, but more so because I realized that I was standing next to the statue that symbolizes the beauty of Brazil and especially Rio de Janeiro. This was the statue I admired in many images, pictures and even my computer desktop and now I was there! Finally!

The people are also nice here. One time I was in the metro holding a plastic bag with some flyers and other non important stuff in it. The bag was a bit torned. The girl and guy from the hostel I was with, pointed it out and told me that my stuff was almost going to fall out of the bag. Then an old woman sitting next to us took something from her handbag. It was a new plastic bag, for me. If that ain’t sweet?

The day of my parade was coming closer and closer. And then I got a mail from the school that I had to be at a test on Sunday at eight o’ clock in the evening, next to the Red cross building. How vague can you be? I took a taxi and asked him to drop me off next to the Red cross building. Fortunately he knew it. The taxi driver was a nice guy. He stopped at the Maracanã stadium to took some pictures of me and explained to me what it was. I did not know that it was a famous soccer stadium. When I told him about my parade and that my school was “Salgueiro” he got really excited. He even gave me a CD right out of his CD player with all the songs of the samba schools, so that I could learn the Slagueiro song.

I arrived at the block and saw a huge crowd. A lot of people wearing “Salgueiro” t-shirts.There I understood the importance of the schools for the people. You breathe a certain school. Some people grew up with the school. It is kind of like the soccer teams, but without the aggression. And then the batteria (the group of people forming the drum section in the carnival parade) kicked in! It was really awesome to see how the directors instructed the batteria and the amazing sound it produced. I also got to find out, that the test was a test for the batteria and not for me. Pfieeeuw!! Hahaha. I had a lovely night and got a taste of my school. I’m in crowd now ;-) and ready for the real work! Samba de Janeiro!!!!