Carnival week begins tomorrow in Brazil, so we found this to be the perfect share to tell this week:
The Trip to Rio
Years ago in the 1960’s I saw a movie called Black Orpheus at a small art house cinema in Hollywood. It blew me away. The story was the retelling of the Greek myth of the tragic love story between Orpheus and Eurydice set in Carnival time in Rio. It ended with Eurydice’s tragic death as she was bitten by a viper snake as she was running through the forest to escape an unwanted suitor. Orpheus became deeply saddened by the loss of his love and remained so for the rest of his life. The story was told beautifully, the photography, the music, the setting was magical. The acting by the relatively unknown lovers was brilliant. Ever since seeing that movie I wanted to visit Rio during Carnival time and visit some of the scenes in the movie, including the large statue of Christ that overlooks Rio, the Copacabana Beach and Guanabara Bay.
I suggested to my friend and business partner, Hal, that we go to Rio at Carnival time and have a fun week. He was all in- always ready for a new adventure. We decided to ask a good friend of ours, Rusty Miller, who was a top fashion photographer in LA to join us and he readily agreed to come along. He anticipated rich photo possibilities during the week of the Carnival with all its color, excitement and beautiful people.
Some of you may not remember, but at one time the television broadcast of the final night’s parade of the Carnival in Rio was shown on National T.V. in America and was the most watched annual event on T.V.
We booked our flight and off we went. To get to Rio we had to fly to New York City, change planes and then fly on down to Rio. Although the flight to Rio sounds a bit glamourous, it was anything but … The seats were cramped, the plane was crowded and the flight seemed like it took forever. One man in the back of the plane just couldn’t take it anymore and started screaming at the top of his lungs. It took ten to fifteen minutes for the attendants to calm him down.
Finally we arrived in Rio- it was hot, sultry and humid. We took a cab to our rented space near the Copacabana Beach and collapsed into a deep sleep for many hours.
We woke up late that night and walked the neighborhood which was very lively because it was Carnival time. We had lots of fresh cut fruit and sweets from the street vendors and then went back to our room and slept till mid-day the next day. We ventured out into our section of Rio and we learned that the city is broken into several sections, like most big cities, and that each section was preparing to compete against each other in the final night of the big parade in three days. So our section of the city was alive with activity: music, dancing in the streets, costumes… you name it. It was very exciting just walking the streets in our local neighborhood that evening.
We ran into some fun Brazilians that asked us to join them at one of the local clubs for a night of drinking, dancing and revelry. So we joined them and what a night it was. With a hot samba band and beautiful people everywhere, the night went on and on. I think I danced about every dance there was with a variety of beautiful Brazilian women. Several times I had a cute Brazilian girl on my shoulders while I was dancing with someone else. What fun. When we left the club in the morning and I was wringing wet with sweat as the sun was rising. We wandered our way back to our room and slept until late afternoon.
That evening while having a drink at a local bar we met several U.S. ex-pats who were living in Rio and they invited us to a big party at a house on the hillside overlooking the bay. Another night of craziness most of which I don’t remember. Our photographer friend Rusty had a romantic evening that night with one of the ex-pats. She was a 30-year-old from Boston who was in the financial business. She had to be the ugliest girl I’ve ever seen. It was hard to believe that Rusty’s career was shooting endless beautiful models for high-end fashion and beauty advertisements. What was he thinking?
We had one more day before the final parade so we decided to hire a guide to take us through the scenes of Black Orpheus as well as take us to the strange voodoo areas of Rio. That night we had a very beefy dinner at a local restaurant. Brazilians love their beef! The following night was the big Carnival parade and the excitement was growing.
Our final day in Rio was fairly subdued with some walks on the beach and a light lunch as we were looking forward to the parade. The parade was is downtown Rio which was about a thirty-minute cab ride from where we were staying. When it was time to go the cabbie took us within a twenty-minute walk of the parade site, so on we trekked. As we approached we could hear the music and overall noise- you could feel the streets pound and move under your feet the intensity was so high. When we got to the parade site the crowd was thick which made it hard to see anything. We got to one corner and decided to some climb lamp posts to get a view. To our surprise the main judging grand stand was directly across the street from us. So all the bands, dancers, singers and acrobats all in their elaborate costumes were strutting their stuff for the judges- right in front of us. What Luck! The night went on and on and on with each group of neighborhood bands trying to outdo the others. It was thrilling.
When the parade ended we started walking back to our area near Copacabana Beach and we heard of an after party at one of the main hotels on the beach. We joined the crowd of amazingly beautiful Brazilian people and drank and danced the night away for our final night in Rio.
It was a trip I’ll never forget.
©2015 Joe Bolstad
Founder and CEO of The Kama Sutra Company