This Sunday, more than 80 blocos were scheduled all over Rio de Janeiro, many starting as early as 8 a.m. I think I understand why the top combo sold in food trucks at the Sambódromo was the “2 Red Bull + caipirinha.”
We don’t drink Red Bull and even if we did, we’re not morning people.
But it’s not like we’re missing all the fun because at noon, the crowd was still there, just a bit drunker and merrier than at 8 a.m. We started with bloco Bangalafumenga around Praia do Flamengo, mostly because we realized we had never been to this beach. It’s not a great place to swim but the view on the Pão de Açúcar is absolutely amazing. The bloco was in the Parque do Flamengo and the large avenue was closed to traffic so despite the massive attendance—60,000 people, apparently—it was actually relaxing.
We walked to Botafogo and we split up to meet up an hour later in Copacabana—I don’t mind the tunnel of death but Feng and Mark take the subway, which is efficient unless it’s mobbed by bloco-goers.
The streets of Copacabana were pleasantly quiet and for a moment, it didn’t feel like Carnival. The beach was busy but it’s normal for a sunny Sunday.
Things got crazier when we reached Ipanema, where the bloco Simpatia é Quase Amor was in full swing, spilling over the beach and taking over the main streets.
Copacabana beach and Avenida Atlântica are wide but Ipanema is much smaller and it’s not supposed to be a party stage for 300,000 people plus the three of us stuck in the madness. This is one of the “classic” blocos that always draws a crowd but despite the lovely setting, it’s not my favourite. It’s really, really crowded, really, really boozy and really, really rowdy.
After a while, we escaped and I started the long walk home. In Copacabana, it still felt like a regular Rio Sunday but for a few very small blocos, the kind where fifty people dance in front of a bar and by a sound truck. I crossed the tunnel of death. Botafogo was quiet as well, with many shops closed. I snapped a shot of an empty street with the Corcovada in the background—“nice!” a Brazilian passerby commented.
I found it nice too, both the view and the fact it was quiet. I needed a bit of calm after the two big blocos earlier.
I quicken my pace, feeling light and happy. In twenty minutes, I’d be in Flamengo. I had to stop by the supermarket on Rua Marquês de Abrantes to buy yogurt and bread, then I’d reach Largo do Machado and I’d be just two streets from the hotel where the guys were probably waiting for me. It was 7:30 p.m. I’d be there by 8 p.m., maybe 8:15 p.m., depending on how busy the supermarket would be on a Sunday night, and…
I heard music as I was crossing under the Viaduto San Tiago Dantas. I sighed. Must be a bloco up the street. Far enough from me, I didn’t have the energy to check it out.
A few hundreds metres further, I turned into Rua Marquês de Abrantes, almost bumping into Luigi and Mario—literally, two guys dressed as the videogame characters. Then I saw a unicorn, a police officer stripping and two pink tutus puking in the middle of the street.
“Must be the end of a bloco,” I thought.
Then I go stuck in the crowd. Okay, maybe the party was just starting and shit, the supermarket was closed. “Cachorro Cansado!” shouted Harry Potter when I asked for the name of the bloco.
I couldn’t move, surrounded by 10,000 people dancing and with a sound truck coming my way.
It took me an hour to reach the end of the long street.
By the time I got to the hotel, a second bloco had merged with the giant Cachorro Cansado.
At 11 p.m., it was still going on.
Maybe I should try some of this Red Bull thing.