This year we varied our Carnival experience a bit. We have in prior years gone to the Sambadromo, sitting in the bleacher areas, jumping and dancing the whole night long. One year as a tourist, I participated in 'the choris line,' at the Sambadromo wearing a headdress of red feathers and marching in the rain at 3 in the morning with four hundred or so strangers. With 'legal' tickets to the Sambadromo now ranging from US$57 to US$ 259.00 in the open bleacher areas, and 'special' tickets ranging up in the thousands, not many real Cariocas get any closer to this celebration than their TV set. After witnessing the line of cars exiting the city the Thursday before Carnival, I am not sure that they have any wish to get any closer to the touristy Carnival.
This year we joined Paulo and Rosa Lopez in the Blocos BABALO, a Santa Teresa street celebrations for the people, and by the people. The blocos are making a come back. For many years, you could not find a street parade. Now there seems to be an abundance of them. I think that the 'blocos' of Ipanema and Copacabana are still to be avoided. Put on for tourists, by the tourist, these media driven blocos miss the flavor of the block parties of the interior that we enjoyed this year.
In bloco Badalo that marched down a main street in Centro, the majority of the participants were neighbors. They know each other by name. They know where their neighbor lives and the names of his children. They dressed in costumes, 'fantasias', made for the children by their mothers, or aunts or a neighbor. They had their own Samba called 'Meu Rio de Janeiro". Composed by, you've go it, some of the neighbors. This is the real Carnival, this is the real Rio. I loved it.