Some more of Carnaval in Rio

Today was the best day of my gym history because as a result of Carnaval festivities, only ugly, fat and old people showed up. I felt so skinny and attractive as I was hopping at ease on the elliptical machine with David Guetta music on my ipod and the middle aged chubby woman on the machine next to me huffing and puffing in agony. This is what gym should be all about. I felt so inspired that I stayed 15 mins longer than usual to use the weight lifting machines I haven’t used pretty much since I was in college.. Definitely going to go tomorrow.

Carnaval itself so far proved itself to be a major FAIL (as my friends from the west coast love to say). The city is overcrowded with various tourists and visitors from the suburbs (as most cariocas escaped to nicer and cleaner places). Everyone is drunk on the can-littered streets.  My friend, who is the carnaval grinch, was hating every second of the blocos we tried to go to, and so we decided to avoid them and hang out around town instead. The issue is that it’s hard to do anything in this town in this period of time so we headed over to the beach in Leblon which was full of ugly fat people trying to look smart and sophisticated with their sweaty tatoos and tight bikinis. Being the snow-white that I am, I could only stay for so little and so I sent greenchy to the beach on her own today and am headed to see Sargento Pimento, a Beatles themed bloco. Results to be reported!

Rio Carnaval, here we go

Lunch yesterday was a totally un-carioca (same weight as undemocratic), as I went to see a Modigliani exhibition at the Museum of Belas Artes in Centro (the exibition was so so but their Brazilian modern art collection was great). To compensate for my evil ways, the plan for today’s lunch is to go to Saara (?) market to buy a carnaval costume. I’m debating between Mini Mouse and Freddie Kruger ( sexual harassment: invite or fight or: conformity vs rebellion) so let’s see how it goes..

After getting “thanks so much for arranging everything” note for my friends that are visiting for carnaval, I realized I should probably arranged something and solicited some input on the blocos to go to. The results: an official brochure from Globo (the main newspaper), links to 2 blogs, an excel spreadsheet with 350 entries (categorized by must-go, avoid, best women, etc) and an excel schedule divided by day and hour of the 10 best blocos. Guess which one was from a former banker and which is from a consultant? Now I just need to synthesize.

A failed attempt at matchmaking for the same-sex community led me to contemplating on my own dating life and sending a “how are you and happy carnaval” email to a friend with some potential. I got the best response from him. He said “I’m going out of town but let’s do something when I am back (hum…I’m more or less in relationship, but if it’s less than more, we can see each other!)”. This is what I call a flexible design!! I think I’m going to use this one in the future.

I leave you here with another a piece of art.. This picture is actually 2D.

Imagine a world with no police and lots of drug dealers

Now, imagine you’re in Rio.

We take many things for granted, living in places where institutions are well established.

Now, Rio de Janeiro, is a city with high levels of crime that puts lots and lots of efforts into protecting tourists that come to visit while ignoring its own population. The tourist areas such as Ipanema and Leblon are swarming police forces of any kind (local, federal, state or whatnot) these days. And so, every year, just before carnaval, the local police threatens to go on strike, completely holding the city hostage in terms of answering their demands. One can imagine how this is a nightmare scenario for this tourist heaven. From what I gather, previous years, this was just a threat. This year it became a reality.

Today Rio police is supposedly on strike and people are sort of freaking out. When I say people, I actually mean interested parties, i.e. the media and politicians. The situation has been quite calm but there are forces such as the one I mentioned above that create mass paranoia. Throughout the day everyone was walking paranoid around the city center. Afternoon, we received an e-mail from the company asking everyone to leave the office by 6pm. My boss even called me at my desk to ask me to leave and stay at home. I told him not worry and that I will just go hang out at a pacified  favela since they have the special police –BOPE, and they won’t be on strike for sure.  He didn’t get the joke. Oh well, he probably attributes it to me being a gringa (ergo, gringos have weird jokes).

Anyways, since all the companies in the city center released their employees early, trying to get home was a big pain.. the amount of people crowding the metro station and platform was like London in Bank station or Line 4-5 Grand Central station in Manhattan during rush hour. Horrendous. When I got out, it just started raining and people were all rushing to go home with terrified looks on their place. I could totally imagine this as a beginning of some silly action/natural disaster movie, and one of those Silvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis types running around with a walkie-talkie, trying to figure out how to save the world from a doomsday scenario.

There is no point going out anywhere because everyone will stay paranoid at home watching the news, and all the places will be completely empty and so I guess I will stay put as well. Tomorrow they will probably announce the end of the strike because there are many carnaval events that are happening (blocos) that are way too important for everyone to be worried about silly police issues.  The carioca will resume drinking beer, dancing samba and going to the beach.   Such is the life of the carioca.

My greatest achievement for the year

Drum roll……


3 years of getting skinnier and then getting fatter and mostly being lazy have come to end. I finally signed up for the gym! No this one, I previously wrote about, but another one, where the women do still dress crazy but there is way less of them and the atmosphere seems a bit more serious (as much as it can be at a place full of Brazilian testosterone). All credits must go to a Colombian colleague of mine who dragged herself, her husband and myself into this joint venture. That’s what I call a strong woman!

Of course, I have to include Brazilian anecdotes from my 0.5 hr experience at this gym.

1. Although the gym membership requires a medical release form, no one ask me for one (a Canadian colleague gave me a tip: if anyone asks, just pretend you don’t understand Portuguese and they won’t bother you with it. He hasn’t brought one for 2 years now and no one ever asked).

2. The fitness machines  have a connection for TV or Ipod, and the TV feature isn’t working although they are placed in front of giant TV screens. When we asked what’s the deal, we were told by the girl at the reception that this is how it is, and they come like this from the manufacturer. We were told to complain with the manager if we don’t agree. The Colombian plans to do so and we have a strong suspicion that perhaps they just didn’t read the manual on how to configure them and probably no one just ever complained..

3. I found out how the piriguettes keep their behind curves. Reverse leg lifting exercises with weights on. This must be done while wearing extremely bright and super tight leotard, with as many men as possible staring with their tongues out. True story.

Anyways, I somehow still remembered how to use the elliptical machine and managed to burn my first 100 calories! As a consequence, I am now paralyzed and lying on the couch and writing these lines.

Can’t wait to collect more fun stories to share.

I took notes on two topics I plan to write backed by popular demand.. my dating life and carnaval preps. I will prioritize based on what I deem more interesting.

Sunshine or Rain, we will not stop the party!

I came back home this Sunday evening, all wet and covered with mud, happy to reflect on a great weekend that finished way too quickly!

My birthday was this week, and I like to keep those days sort of low key and with close friends. Apparently, this is not allowed in Brazil. My Brazilian co-workers kept coming up to me every 5 mins and asking me when is the party and what am I doing and how come I am not having a huge party (kind of the same story of Christmas – “awww, you are not going home for Christmas, awwwww….”.. “I’m Jewish!!”, “so, what?? here everyone celebrates xmas”), which was very annoying as I had to explain again and again the same thing..  Actually in this case, I just really didn’t want to spend my birthday, drinking cheap beer with co-workers I am not even that interested in. This sort of spoiled my birthday mood ( I don’t like to be pressured), but I recovered the following day and went out every day afterwards, to celebrate with people I call actual friends..

Things really stepped up on Saturday because the sun was finally shinning and  I headed to Leme beach to watch grown up men jumping on each other and rolling over in sand. Yes – it was a rugby tournament, and only the need to drink my cold beer and watch muscular men running around kept me from not falling asleep under the sun. I don’t get this sport, but the men seemed happy to be beating each other up and showing off their bruises. Oh well..

In the evening, we checked out the super-cool Paxecho bar in Horto, before heading over to Tijuca to watch a samba school show, courtesy of the frenchman, who tipped us about this place. As I was standing in line to buy the entrance ticket, I noticed the really long line of male couples, with hardly any women in sight. It then turned out that Unidos da Tijuca, is a gay samba school. So it was the gay parade meet samba school with tons of drunk transvestites, dressed in slutty miniskirts and high heels. The music sounded like an organized noise and the place was filthy, littered with beer cups and god knows what else. Once we’ve had enough, we went outside, where we were lucky enough to catch a drag queen comedy show, with the main star Xuxa, telling about jokes how carioca men are so much that they beat up gay people.. I didn’t think this one was so funny. The highlight was when Xuxa found a Canadian in the audience and started speaking English to him “I love you”, “This is a table”, “My name is Xuxa”, and other random phrases.. without realizing the guy was actually French Canadian!! 😀 We love Xuxa!

Today I ended up in the rain, dancing to the drum and sax music, next to the modern museum of art, at a mini bloco of Orquestra Voadora. What an incredible energy! I cannot wait to see them at the carnaval.


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