I've been feeling kind of homesick for Brazil lately. Certainly part of it is the shitty cold weather that has been just hanging around for so long this year. Part of it is the last week being the lead up to Lent, and seeing all the coverage of Mardi Gras. And part of it has certainly been watching Shakesville blogger William K. Wolfram go through his preparations for the big show.
Now, I intend no offense to my co-blogger and his home state, but I just can't get down with the idea that Mardi Gras is the real thing. And even though I've been around the real deal I never went through the expense of going out with a samba school. I went to Imperio Serrano and danced my ass off, and hung out in the open air set of stands with food and beer in the staging area of the big parade, both of which seemed way more fun to me and had the bonus of not including wearing extra layers of polyester in 45C degree weather. The most fun at Carnaval I had was with my good friend John, who is an anthropologist who writes about race and culture. I was going through a bad breakup of a transatlantic relationship with someone who lived in Bahia as I had moved back to the US, and I had been uninvited to go to Salvador for Carnaval. So, a ticket to Rio - which I had just very reluctantly left - it was, and it was the perfect cure. Many residents flee the city for Carnaval, to get away from the noise, mess and tourists. Being broke grad students, we did Carnaval around the edges. Went out behind Simpatia e' quase amor and amongst the Banda de Ipanema made up in part by the Ala Carmen Miranda (or Carmen Miranda Wing). We went to watch the Cordao da Bola Preta, one of the oldest and most traditional neighborhood blocks.
And then when we were sick of everyone, we hauled ass to the home of a professor we knew, in a small community south of Rio. What was especially cool was that this professor had built a small house in a low income area, and had a little yard with a few citrus trees and one wall of the house was glass, looking out over the ocean. Because this town was enough away from Rio, it had its own small carnaval, in which there was no nudity, and most people dressed as either the traditional "Clovis", a masked, almost harlequin figure OR in gorilla suits. There were only local families (and us, of course) and kids ran around, vendors sold pipocao (sweet candied popcorn) and cotton candy and caldo de cana, which at the time we were calling caldo de cholera, since there had been a few outbreaks in the region. But the best part was sitting around with the professor's dogs, a silly boxer and a giant Rhodesian Ridgeback with a heart of gold, a two hour hike through the forest to a remote beach, and caipirinha caseira (homestyle caipirinha) from the professor's trees. It was one of the most restful weeks I have ever had, despite all the noise and confusion of Rio, and having lived there for some time.
Back to reality, and the cold rain spitting against my windowpane, a continent away. The cockles of my heart are warm, and minha alma carioca hears the canto das sereias.Posted by binky at February 27, 2009 03:18 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Latin America