Not sure how to put it more simply, but the last few days have been UNBELIEVABLE. If I was a regular tourist in a hotel/hostel, even couchsurfing, none of the stuff I've done so far in Rio would have happened. But I have have a pretty incredible host here Rio, Brian from a Rotaract club & his family.
The first few days we went to some Blocos... Carnival parties... Basically, they are mostly gigantic street parties in different parts of Rio (there are thousands over 4 or 5 days), there is samba dancing, music, drumming, and generally just thousands of people in the streets in different parts of Rio having a good time. There is always hundreds of beer vendors carrying their beer on wooden slabs with wheels. Brian took me out to several Blocos the first few days, and I met plenty of his friends, most of which speak some English, cause I know like 5 words now in Portuguese. Actually, reading is ok, hearing is impossible. A few of his friends even tried to teach me to Samba dance, haha. Bloco highlight: Leaving a club at 4:15am after meeting Camila up, another Rotaractor, and, while standing outside confronted by a packed street, a guy jumps from the vaulted 2nd story and fall 1 foot away from me... bouncers tug his ear and tell him to get lost for being an idiot. In summary, Carnival is ridiculous.
On Saturday, we went to a futbol game & the Sambodromo. The futbol game was probably the craziest sporting event I have been to. We took the train there. With Carnvial & a futbol game going on, the trains were absolutely mobbed, I was squished and had my face in armpits in various directions, a refreshing experience... All the while people banging the car ceiling ceiling and chanting. Phew.
So we got the the stadium pretty early so I could check it out when it wasn't full. Marcana holds something like 90,000 fans, one of the biggest in the world. The next world cup will be played here. This match was Vasco da Gama vs Fluminse, two of the big teams in Rio. We sat in the section for Vasco fans. Fans of each team always sit together on different sides of the stadium, then there is a neutral zone. The tourists get tickets close to the field (a worse view actually) in the first deck, and not in a team section, so I'm glad I was with Brian to get the real scoop.
Fans filtered in, bringing in tons of various team flags with them. Soon before kickoff, the stadium was pretty full (not 100% being Carnival & all) and 3 or 4 massive sections of Vasco fans wre chanting various songs, waving flags, and trying to get everyone excited. The one cool thing about they stadium is they sell no alcohol in or within 2km of stadium, so most of the fans are totally crazy but not drunk crazy, so everything is under control. Genuine fans.
This was a pretty important match, being a semifinal match for the Rio championship. It went by pretty quick, and after 90 minutes, it was still 0-0, so it went into penalty shots. Each team got their 5 shots apiece, and they still both made all thir shots! Finally, on the 6th shot, Vasco made one and Fluminese missed one, and the Vasco sections went NUTS. We stayed in the seats for a good 20 minutes after the game while they all chanted different club songs and waved flags. I, on the other hand, was totally lost in the chants, and just pretended to look like I knew what I was saying, haha.
Stay tuned for the update on me being in the official Carnival. Ta ta.
On the Rio subway going to a Bloco with Brian:
At a bloco with Brian & friends:
Beer (Cerveja) vendors:
The crowd in just one small part of this Bloco in the neighborhood Lapa:
Outside Marcana statdium for the futbol game. We met this guy (err Brian did), at the train station. He was on vacation with his family from northern Brazil for Carnival & a big Vasco fan.
View of part of the stadium:
Before the game:
Vasco fans starting to get pumped up:
Fans really going crazy now, lighting fireworks:
Lined up for Penalty kicks:
Vasco wins, fans go crazy, good thing were in the Vasco Section!
Video of my first bloco, a smaller one, showing the drummers:
Here is a video from a Bloco, starring Brian & Company: