26-27-28 February 2017 - but posted on 8 March in Santarem, on the Amazon
We’re finally in Rio for three days, which is one of the major reasons we came on the cruise. We’re set for the Sambadromo tonight (Monday), but we had our own (and more typical for us) kind of adventure on Sunday.
Many of the streets in downtown Rio, or at least near the coastline, seem to be closed for the Carnaval parade.
Yesterday, the floats were brought out for the initial judging, and they were driven along the coastal road and parked, waiting to be seen by the officials. Given that so many roads are blocked until the end of Carnaval, we couldn’t get a taxi to go visit our friend who lives here in Rio. The info guy recommended that we take the trolley outside, go to a specific station, and catch the metro (subway). Sounded pretty easy, and we set off, friend’s address in hand.
The trolley was right out the port terminal gate, and we found which side we needed to get to our metro station. Trolley train came, we got on, and it’s free for anyone over 65. I tried to look a few years older. We found the stop we needed, and got off. Asked a nice woman dressed as Frida Kahlo for directions, and she showed us that the metro station was just a block up a cross street, plus pointed out where to get the tickets.
Again, the metro is free for seniors – but the guards wanted to see ID, so I couldn’t exactly fake that. The guard tried explaining where to go buy my ticket, and then a young man who spoke better English came over and volunteered to help. He was wearing a bright green peaked cap, and a matching bright green tunic with a zig-zagged hem – I recognized him immediately at Peter Pan.
Now, I probably should pause and explain that for Carnaval, people dress in all kinds of outfits. Both men and women in tutus, the men often shirtless. People in faux leopard-skin Tarzan or Flintstones wraps. The occasional toga, complete with a golden laurel wreath on the head. Wings wings everywhere, from feathery white angel wings to bright red feather devil wings to glittering butterfly and bumble bee and fairy wings. Unicorn horn and ears and flowers headbands. Angel halo headbands. Kitty cat headbands. The occasional Renaissance guard in velvet knickers and cape. Young women as sexy pirates, sexy cops, sexy brides. Young men dressed as young women. Anything and everything.
There were all kinds of costumes, the point seeming to be not much clothing and something funny or silly or seductive. Or all three at once.
Carnival and Carnaval is like that. Just massive craziness.
So Peter Pan seemed perfectly normal in this crowd. We chatted as we inched along the line, and he helped me buy my ticket, then helped us find the platform we needed. His real name was Rodrigo, but I’ll always remember him as Peter Pan.
So we made it out to the border where Copacabana meets Ipanema, the two most famous beaches divided by a hill. With some help, we found our friend’s apartment, and had a nice day with her, catching up on the usual things with a friend you haven’t seen in years.
And then, as dusk began to fall, we headed out. We knew our route, we knew where we needed to change trains, it all seemed as if it would be easy.
Uh, no. Of course not.
Turned out that half of Rio was heading to a neighborhood parade. Which, we didn’t realize, crossed the trolley route. So we crammed onto the metro, along with hundreds of people in their costumes or ensembles, found the stop we needed, and found the trolley station. And waited. And waited. People were standing in the intersection of the major road and the trolley tracks, and police motorbikes had to come through to clear the tracks for the trolley. Going in the opposite direction of our route, of course.
We waited some more. People came, grandmas danced the samba to amuse their grandkids (and us!), it was a happy crowd. Then we could hear the music getting louder and louder, and Richard talked to one of the station crew – yes, the parade was coming! Big excitement!
But we were tired and hungry and wanted to get back to the ship, rather than stay to watch the parade.
So we walked a few blocks over, and managed to find a taxi. Our driver was from Colombia originally, so he understood our Spanish, and it turned out his English was pretty good. We ended up taking a circuitous route back to the port, though we weren’t that far away. (But too far to walk the entire distance, especially not knowing where to go.)
We ended up walking along the coast to get to the pier terminal – we had reached that point of seeing our destination but just sitting in traffic, so our nice driver stopped the meter and showed us where to go.
Finally made it back to our ship, and dinner, and multiple glasses of water. Rio is HOT in the summer, and cold water is essential.
We’re taking today (Monday) pretty slow, so that we can stay up all night for the samba parade!
And of course I hope for lots of colorful photos, and another report in a day or so.
Map of the first half of the cruise, from Fort Lauderdale to Rio - 24 days.