Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Carnaval "Tail"

As I have previously mentioned, I have been to Brasil and Rio de Janeiro many times. In 2006, I lived there for two months starting in late January and Carnaval started about a month later. Oh my, what a festa. Probably never to be repeated in my life (even though I do plan to move there someday soon and be an ex-pat) as I do plan to keep living and living thru another the way I did it the first time will probably kill me as I enter old age.

This year it starts this weekend, hence the new entry (though festivities start a few days earlier-after all it is officially a 4 day party starting on a Saturday and ending on a Tuesday, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, 40 days before Easter and then there is Lent and all that massive fun, blah, blah, blah.). Though it's all about the Catholics as a non-believer in all dudes in the sky who look over us, I will say that it is my fav religion of all time if I was forced to pick one (despite having a little issue with the celibate priest thang which obviously tends to lead to diddling little altar boys and worse, right?).

Why? In short, you are allowed to confess your sins at “church”, says a few (or many as directed by the priest) Hail Marys and you are absolved and back to do all the bad things you were doing before (drinking, stealing, fornicating, etc.) and you are in great shakes until you feel guilty again and go back to confess and start the whole ludicrous cycle again. How great is that!!!??? It seems to work well for Brasilians as they seem to greatly enjoy all those things previously mentioned. To further elaborate on this, I learned that in Rio very few of the “beach set” go to church on Sunday morning at all. Why? Well they have to sleep off the late night before and head to the beach in the early afternoon. Therefore, the “smart” local churches also hold an evening service after it is dark. Hey, one must have priorities, right?

The great thing about Carnaval is that you can endeavor in even worse behavior while it is on! After all, it literally translates as “removing of meat” or “eating meat”. I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty sexual along the lines of having a nasty sexual appetite. And that certainly defines the attitude of Cariocas (the term given to an inhabitant of Rio) during Carnaval and after it and before it and well, 365 days a year so there goes the whole Popes plan to get every one to wait until MARRIAGE to get it on. Duh.

In short, the Rio Carnaval is not only the biggest Carnival, the benchmark against which every other carnival is compared but also one of the most interesting artistic events on earth. Pretty much everyone has heard of the Rio Carnaval unless they do not like watching perfect female specimens shaking their bundas at 200 beats per minute.

Yes, Carnaval 2006 was almost the death of me. I spent the week with the lovely Patricia who I met through a friends of hers and for about 6 days the festa was non stop. Formal street parties and informal beach festas. Events at elegant clubs. An erotic ball at Scala. The many Samba parades at the Sambodromo that start each each night at about 9 pm and can last until 7 am with each Samba school strutting down the massive runway (and, unfortunately, with each school basically playing a very similar samba beat and song OVER AND OVER again and for the uninitiated it may be the height of boring repetition but it was still a once in a lifetime spectacle. The one night we went we got there at 10 and stayed till 4 am and I was a zombie by then and finally got home at 6 and crashed shortly thereafter). Yet no matter what we were doing, every night followed the same schedule.

In closing, many bad, bad things happened. But as Patricia and all other Brasilians explained, “It's “bom” (OK), it is Carnaval. You can do anything. Anything at all!” I did. And that is good. The end.

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