Who said Carnaval was just for Rio? This city’s version of the holiday involves many “blocos” or groups of people with a common costume theme. Each bloco had a huge truck and marching band that paraded through the streets blaring music and attracting gigantic crowds of dancing. An energizing, exotic, truly amazing day in Brazil began when our host sister, Luana, and her 5 friends showed up at our house bearing gifts of sparkly blue tutus, princess tiaras, and an invigorating, contagious spirit. It was yet another instance exemplifying just how friendly and open people in Brazil are; after brief introductions, we felt like sisters!
We were told that Carnaval would be insanely busy, but I completely underestimated this statement. The flooding crowds began at the metro, much before the big event. I felt like I was hugging thousands of people at one time. The funny thing was that even though the lines were incessant, no one was impatient! There was a sense of relaxation, contentment, and acceptance of the long waiting game. Even more amazingly, there was a tangible excitement spread by laughs and screams of enthusiasm. The journey was an experience itself, and one more contribution to allow us to get a feel for the culture.
Luana and her friends were the ideal tour guides throughout the new experience; they explained along the way, but also went about their normal routine, allowing us to get a feel of actual life in Brazil hanging out with friends. I personally was so happy to have Luana as a host sister, as she reminds me of my own sister at home.
My go-to Portuguese phrase for the day was, “Você quer dançar,” or “do you want to dance.” I of course practiced this a LOT and apparently could say it correctly. However, when I used it to make friends, the conversation ceased immediately. My new acquaintances expected me to respond to what they had begun to say to me, but were instead met with the most confused look. ? I’ve got quite a bit more of Portuguese to learn…
If we learned how to ask people to dance, we obviously had to learn the dance itself! Juliana’s best word of advice was, “Keep your chin up and you’ll look like you know what you’re doing.” The beautiful thing about Brazil was, yes of course everyone recognized us as awkward, pale, “gringas” who couldn’t dance, but they didn’t care! We felt loved through warm smiles, kiss greetings, and dances. Not only was our adventure at Carnaval an absolute blast, but it was also an invitation to participate in the unique, cultured, accepting, bubbly society that is São Paulo, Brazil.