Follow the sound of drums to find the party—Brazil 101.
Carnival is still a month away but it’s a serious affair around here and I’ve been seeing (and hearing) schools rehearsing late at night in Floripa Centro.
We spent the day in the south of the island at Praia Matadeiro, a quiet spot hidden behind a hill just past Praia da Armação. This is the kind of perfect sheltered beach you’ll find in Costa Rica, Thailand or Mexico—a local secret not yet packed with restaurants and bars. The air was perfectly still and it was hot, almost too hot but we’ve stopped trying to predict when it could rain because common thunderstorm signs don’t seem to apply here—downpours always takes us by surprise.
At 9 p.m., we walked from our side of the city to Centro. This part of Floripa is eerily quiet at night because the market and businesses close at 7 p.m.—in the evening, everybody hangs around at the busy Beiramar Shopping mall and on the north-side waterfront.
But I could hear the drums in the distance.
Indeed, praça 15 de Novembro was packed. We showed up at the perfect time, when fireworks started.
That’s also when the thunderstorm broke.
“Do you want to stay or go?”
“Stay! We’re going to get soaked walking back to the hotel, anyway!”
We took shelter under a porch and waited for the parade to come closer to us. By the time the king and queen showed up, they were soaked and so were we.
The rain wasn’t stopping but it wasn’t stopping the party either.
“High heels on wet pavement… must be slippery!” I shouted out to Feng who was completely engrossed in dance moves —or rather, long bare legs and skimpy dresses stuck to the dancers’ skin.
Can’t blame him, the whole scene was pretty hot. And after all, technically, Carnival—even pre-pre-Carnival—is a time to indulge sexual desires.
We were a rain-soaked mess, the parade was a rain-soaked mess, the camera was wet, I had water in my eyes, everything was out of focus, loud and slippery.
But it was exhilarating.
“How fast can Mark fall asleep tonight?” I whispered. “I… have plans for us.”
“Fast,” Feng nodded approvingly.