Carnival Grand Finale: Street Food, Drag Queens, Beach Parties & Offers to Kiss the Locals

22 Feb

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It being the final day of carnival 2012 we decided once again to take it easy during the day, more specifically for me inside and in the shade. I managed to get a pretty sore sunburn the day before on the back of my body as a result of being too eager to get back in the pool after re-applying my sunscreen, let’s just say there’s a new Burnsesaurus in town.

We had heard that there was a parade taking place at 4pm in Copacabana that was a must-see, must-experience, being the last day of carnival. We had also heard that this parade in particular drew a number of drag queens which is always entertaining!

We took the bus to the area where the parade was about to be, passing a number of drag queens. The first of which took me a minute to figure out because of the real-looking fake breasts stuffed into a teeny bikini top but upon looking closer I noticed a few chest hairs had been missed in the hair removal grooming routine.

Before securing our spots we first got a beer from the foam coolers and some corn on the cob from a street vendor. That’s a $6.50 (BRL) meal right there, can’t beat it! We also stopped to share a churro between each couple which is essentially a small banana-looking hallow doughnut that they fill with either warm dulce de leche or chocolate. It’s incredible and it’s $2 (BRL).

We found a spot along the sidelines to see the parade come through and once the band had passed (at carnival the band is the parade), we fell in line to samba our way through the streets. Shopping carts and wagons of the foam beer coolers are pushed and pulled through the midst of the parade so that no one goes thirsty, leaving a trail of water from the melting ice behind them.

Hands down my favourite part of samba-ing in this parade was the old woman watching the festivites from her apartment through an open window. She would clap with her hands over her head and the crowd would follow suit. She would then wave her arms and all you could see in front and behind you was a sea of waving arms. It was like Simon Says and she was Simon doing the saying.

When the parade got to be too hot, sweaty and the smell of urine too strong we stepped out and headed the 10 meters to the sand of the beach, walked down to the water and let the cold salty waves of the Atlantic wash over our feet. J.J. even went in for a full dip, just as the sun was setting – I don’t know how because it takes all of my guts to do it in the heat of the midday sun, that water is COLD.

Once J.J. had dried off, we headed across the parade and up into the town where the street parties were in full swing, snacking on delicious street foods the whole way. We stumbled across a man selling mixed drinks from a street stand and we each got one – it was essentially a caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink, made with a LOT of cachaça (sugar cane rum), a spoonful or 2 of sugar and pieces of fresh watermelon. Delicious!

Jonny’s leg had begun to hurt so the boys took a seat beside a local apartment security guard while Tal and I opted for the curb to better people-watch. Twice, Brazilian boys came up to Tal and I to let us know that there were only a couple of hours left before carnival was officially over and if we hadn’t already, we had to kiss Brazilian boys. One guy in particular was quite funny, saying it didn’t have to be him but he could find us 2 Brazilian boys. We let him know that the Canadian boys we were with might not like that but if he could convince them, we’d let him find us some Brazilian boys. His pitch to the guys was that if he could find us 2 Brazilian boys to kiss before midnight, he’d also find them each a Brazilian girl to kiss. The boys didn’t trade us in so as far as any of us knows, none of us have kissed a Brazilian. (I guess that’s how at least some of the street make-outs come about.)

We continued to wander, jumping in the occasional parade when the beat caught up to our feet, and eventually stopped at a burrito spot – because apparently the street food hadn’t been enough. Each couple shared a burrito, which was much more manageable in terms of size, but less delicious, than Burrito Boys or Z-Techa. This place did offer grilled pineapple as a possible topping though, which Toronto burrito joints should add to their menus.

After that, we were on our way home for another comfortable sleep.

It’s been a wild ride, Carnival Rio, and I’ve loved every minute!

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