I am not exaggerating when I tell you that during the 5 days of Carnaval, we woke up and went to sleep hearing the hum of blocos all around us. Although they start weeks ahead of Carnaval and don't end up the Sunday after Carnaval (a full 5 days after Fat Tuesday when Carnaval ends in the rest of the world), they are most intense during Carnaval itself, when you can hear the hum in the air if they are close by.
Cut to the bloco after the feijoada and Beija Flor, and it was an entirely different scene from our first two blocos.
We had been invited by Brazilian friends to their apartment for a bloco-viewing party, which, in their words, is the only way to experience this particular bloco in Ipanema. I declined the invitation because the party started at 4pm, and I knew we'd be at the feijoada until 6. They told me to come over late, that their apartment was near the Caesar Park and we'd still be able to see the bloco going on.
Their apartment is very close to the Caesar Park Hotel. On a non-bloco day, it wouldn't take more than a few minutes of a peaceful, beachfront walk to get from one to the other.
Add tens of thousands of people, and the walk was neither fast nor pleasant.
|Photo from O Globo newspaper of the Banda de Ipanema bloco|
We all quickly realized I had made a terrible mistake in insisting we go to this party. The sidewalks weren't terribly busy when we started the walk, but they turned horrible in a flash. Once we were in the middle of this throng, it was impossible to decide whether it was better to push forward or turn back. No matter which way you looked, there were drunk masses of people as far as the eye could see.
The Mathiasens held on to their girls, I had a death grip on Mac's shoulder (from which I woke up the next morning with a horrible pain in my shoulder and arm), and Jimmy brought up the rear.
We made slow progress. I can't describe to you the heat, and the jostling, and the pushing, and the general feeling of panicky terror that simmered in my stomach.
At some point, Jimmy realized his cell phone had been stolen from his pocket, but thankfully his wallet was still in the other pocket. The rest of us were luckier and lost nothing.
At that point, we decided to abort the mission with the best course of action being to cut across the road and get to the beach. I felt like if we could get down to the water, we could make our way from Ipanema back towards Leblon, where it would be calmer since the bloco didn't go that far. Everybody was told the plan and we tried to stick as close together as we could.
If you look at that photo above, we were as far on the left side as you can be (all the way up against the fences around the apartment buildings). We pushed and pulled our way across all those people to get to the right side of the photo. Thankfully, Brazilians love assisting old people and people with children. Anika was in front of our makeshift conga line, holding Sofie, and people screamed at other people to get out of the way because children were coming through. Miraculously, it worked and we got across the crowd and onto the sand.
Only to realize that we'd lost Jimmy. Who no longer had a cell phone.
Mac was very upset about leaving Jimmy behind but after looking for him (imagine the hardest game of Find Waldo! that you've ever played), I convinced him that Jimmy still had his wallet (please God, let him still have his wallet) and could taxi home just as we were planning to do. (Jimmy's driver was waiting for us some blocks away. The plan had been to call the driver when we were leaving the party to see where he was parked, but now Jimmy had no way of communicating with him after his cell phone was stolen.)
The five of us trudged down the beach, settled down our nerves, recounted what a horrifying experience the whole thing had been, got in taxis and headed home. Where we found Jimmy waiting for us.
Lesson learned: Never ever go to a bloco ever again. Ever.
Next up; Super Bowl Sunday