Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Carnaval: Day 1

Eric and I spent a lot of our time trying to figure out how to describe our first Carnaval experience. The only thing we could really come up with is CRAZY! We had such a good time, but it is so different from anything else either of us has ever been to (and this comes from the girl who was at Mardi Gras 2002 in New Orleans' french quarter!) Brasilians are so full of emotion and they do Carnaval with so much passion. We drove the 3 hours to São João Del Rei on Saturday and arrived around lunchtime. I have so many pictures to share I think I will have to devote one blog entry per day to get it all in. So here is our Saturday:

We checked in to our Pousada (which is sort of like a bed and breakfast in the US). It was the first time we've stayed in a pousada and we were really impressed. It was a really cute place, all the staff remembered who we were and our room number and treated us very kind.

This is inside our room, just before we left to go get a bite of lunch and wait for the other 2 couples to arrive.

That afternoon, we met up with Fabiana, her boyfriend, Carl, her brother and his girlfriend. They all wanted to rest a little so they would be ready to go out that night. Eric and I welcomed the chance to go out to the Pousada's pool for a little while and relax in the sun.

About 8:oo we all got together and walked a few blocks to the downtown area. There was a Bloco happening when we got there. Basically, what it amounts to is a group of people who might live in the same neighborhood, or in this case, live in the same building at the university, getting together and dancing through the streets. There is usually a theme and the people from that Bloco dress up. There is a big truck with speakers (that you can just barely see in the background of the picture below) that plays samba music and drives along slowly with a mob of people dancing along in front, beside, and behind it. It is shoulder to shoulder packed in craziness and you just kind of fall in and dance along with the crowd as it makes it way through the streets. Our first impression was something along the lines of, 'Is this safe? A big truck driving through a crowd of people??' (And actually, the next day there were news reports of the brakes going out on one of these trucks in another city while the truck was going down a hill. I think 2 children were killed and a whole bunch of people were seriously injured.)

After about an hour and us moving just two blocks with the Bloco, it ended and the truck parked and everyone just hung out in the streets dancing, drinking, kissing (more on that in a later post) and just generally cutting lose. There was a stage set up and a band that was getting ready to come on and play,we thought, so we hung out there for a while. Street vendors were everywhere selling beer, water, mixed drinks by the cup that they have mixed up in old 2 liter bottles, kabobs of chicken or beef cooked on a tiny little grill set up on the sidewalk, and, as the yellow sign over my shoulder in the picture states, cachaça (sugar cane liqour very popular here) with honey served in bamboo for 1 Real (about 55 cents in USD.)

This is Carl and Fabiana. Fabiana is one of the secretaries in Eric's office, and her boyfriend, Carl, just came back to Brasil for 6 months from Sweden to study Portuguese and be able to spend some time not-an-ocean-apart from his girlfriend. (It made our 1 year of dating Iowa-Georgia seem really not so long distance anymore!) They are both really nice people and we had a lot of fun with them!

Curiosity got the best of us and we had to try the cachaça and honey. I thought it was pretty good, but I was in the minority with my group. They decided caipirinhas are much better.

After a while, we decided to walk down to the main street where all the parades take place. The first parade was a pretty simple one compared to the others we would see through the next 3 days. But the participants were having fun!

Another parade started pretty quickly after that first one. This one had a theme of Brasil's early history. It depicted poor treatment of the slaves, the Portugal crown ruling over the country, and then Brasil's independence at the end. It was really nicely done and the costumes were great.

After the parades, it was about 11:00 and we hadn't had much to eat yet, so we made our way up the street to where a lot of food tents were set up. They had actual refrigerators to store their uncooked meat in, so we felt a little better about eating from there versus the guys grilling on the sidewalks storing meat in busted up styrofoam coolers. As we were walking down the street (which appeared to be closed off to traffic, for goodness sakes there are tents set up in one lane of the street and tons of people walking around!), Eric was discussing with me the hotdogs and how they appeared to be in some sort of spicy sauce and how he thought he might want to try one of them. Next thing I know, he lets out a yell. A loud yell. And we discovered that he doesn't yet think in Portuguese because in this moment of panic he was yelling out English words. I looked up to see a car stopped...on top of his right foot. The woman driving the car stopped when he started yelling (just as she started to run over the side of his foot) and was just staring blankly at him as he yelled at her to get off his foot (in English). She finally let off the brakes, Eric's foot became free, and he began jumping around on one foot, continuing his English ranting. He had drawn quite the crowd at this point - everyone staring at the crazy American (only one or two others actually saw the car stopped on top of his foot.) After a few minutes he decided nothing was broken and he would be alright, so he got some chicken on a stick and we started walking back up to where the band was set up. Here is a picture of the damage. You can't make out much in the picture but that is a bruise in the shape of tire treads just in front the the ankle bone.

He was sitting on the bed as I took the picture, and then he asked me if I'd bring him some water to drink. I must have given him that "you have 2 legs" look, becasue then he said, "I was run over by a car today!" Alright, it's not everyday you get to use that line. I figured I'd let him milk it for one day.

So in summary, Day 1 of Carnaval: Eric gets run over by a car. (I really wish I had it on video too, because I am cracking up at the scene just thinking back to write about it! No, it wouldn't have been funny had he been hurt, but he wasn't. So in hindsight, we both agree it was just absolutely hilarious!!!)


Tony said...

You want me to send you some steel toed boots? I thought those cars were small. Why didn't you just pick it up and move it? :)

Looks like ya'll had a good time.


Anonymous said...

I am glad to here that you didn't
get hurt bad, after all what would the soccer team do without there star player.
Also i'm suprised to hear that you was going to get a full day to milk the suffering out. I would try for two. Not that it would do me any good. but I would try.
The carnaval loked like fun, but very crowded.
Hi! Emily,

Take care Dad ! ! !