Everything changed on Friday.
First, we packed and moved from our questionable and uniquely Copacabana-ish Airbnb to another place in Flamengo. This one is a great pick—quiet street, normal building, and everything works.
This apartment is going to be our haven for the next five days.
Carnival is starting. We know what to expect—megablocos gathering millions, 24/7 packed streets, parties at every corner of the city. It’s going to be normal to see Wonderwoman walking his dog, to see guys in pink tutu skirts queuing in front of blue portable toilets, to see people stepping into supermarkets half naked and covered in glitter.
Don’t get me started on glitter. It’s impossible to wash it off.
It’s going to be a hell of a Carnival.
We got the keys to the Flamengo Airbnb and immediately took the subway to Carioca, downtown Rio.
Feng had a plan.
“So how about taking the tramway to Santa Teresa? I’ve heard there’s a bloco uphill—it’s a bit of a gamble, what do you think?”
“Oh, a bit of a gamble says the guy who somehow convinced me to travel from Mexico to Brazil by bus when I was 18? Gee, I’m in.”
Santa Teresa is one of these Rio hills we don’t know well. Once upon a time, it was an upscale neighbourhood, then as the favelas grew around, it became one of these places people tell you to avoid. It’s safe-ish by Rio standards but many warnings apply. Side streets are best avoided, it can get dodgy very quickly, wandering around isn’t recommended, etc.
But one of the great things about Carnival is that normal rules don’t really apply. On Thursday, I wouldn’t have taken a random long staircase to the top of the hill but on Friday, it was fine, because thousands of people were going the same way. The Carnival is a chance to see places in Rio you wouldn’t dare to explore on a regular day.
And so we ended up on top of Santa Teresa where we spent a few hours partying with thousands of strangers. It was hot, messy and very fun. The view from the top is amazing.
Then we walked back to Flamengo, took a shower, and got ready for a night at the Sambodromo. Stay tuned!