And The Winner Is…

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This blog entry about the events of Tuesday, February 24, 2004 was originally posted on February 28, 2004.

DAY 129: With Carnaval officially over, it was time to stop being a non-stop party monster and just be a tourist again.  For Terence’s, Paul’s and Mark’s last day in Rio de Janeiro, that’s just what we did.

We cleaned up the Santa Teresa apartment and then called a taxi to bring us to the owner’s parents house to drop off the keys.  The taxi brought us to Copacabana where my three visitors dropped off their bags to pick up later before heading to the airport that night.  We made an ATM stop and then a lunch break at Habib’s, the middle eastern fast food restaurant with locations all over Rio.  We stopped at Angramar Turismo to pick up Lara’s and my costumes from Carlos — he was his usually cheery self, just really sore from partying the night before. 

With all the chores done, we took a taxi to Rio’s other big tourist attraction after the Cristo Redentor, the Pão de Açucar, or “Sugar Loaf,” the massive two-mound rock formation linked together by cable cars.  The sky was overcast, but there weren’t any low clouds — the view was decent, just not great.  One cable car took us to the first mound, with its views of the Christ statue high above Corcovado, and another (picture above) took us to the taller mound, with its spectacular views of the city and the Atlantic horizon.  We hung out a while for photos and to just chill out, reciting lines from Enter The Dragon near an Australian guy traveling with what we assumed was a hooker.

Back down the Sugar Loaf, we walked passed the Pra?a Tiburcio and back to one of the shopping malls in Botofogo, so Mark could use the bathroom.  In the food court, everyone was fixated on a nearby television.  On the screen, it was the Carnaval judging ceremony, live from the Sambadrome.  The four of us became fixated too when the announcer read each judge’s score individually for each of the fourteen competing samba schools, each score preceded by a dramatic pause.  With a scale of 1-10, the scores were posted on the screen with graphics in a grid.  There were many 9.6’s, 9.8’s and 9.9’s — some 9.1’s and 9.4’s too — but when the announcer read a score for my samba school Beija-Flor, he’d pause dramatically before forcefully saying “Dez!” (“Ten!”)  Other teams got tens as well, but not with the consistency of Beija-Flor. 

By the seventh judge, Beija-Flor soared to the top with a perfect score — it was up to the point where people watching in the mall food court just waved their hand in disgust with a “Bah…” like they were bored of Beija-Flor’s streak.  The streak ended when one judge — Tito Canha — gave a 9.9.  I felt like raising my fists in the air and yelling, “Damn you, Tito Canhaaaaa!!!!”


AT THE TIME, I DIDN’T KNOW HOW MANY JUDGES there were, so rather than sit and watch TV in a mall food court, we moved onto the next mall Rio Sul, the much bigger and better one, to shop for a duffel bag to fit my Beija-Flor costume into.  The food court wasn’t much different; dozens of shoppers stopped their sprees and just fixated on the big flat screen.  Points continued to be awarded.  Beija-Flor was getting even more tens — after dramatic pauses of course — and I really started to get excited.  The mood was spoiled when another judge gave a 9.9, allowing other teams like the favored Manguiera, to catch up.

In the end, Beija-Flor took first place after all the points were awarded from forty judges.  Out of a possible 400 points, my samba school won the competition with 388.7 points.  Tied for second with 387.9 points a piece was Manguiera, the team I saw practice the weekend before Carnaval, and Unidos da Tijuca, the team with go-cart tracks on their final float.  With Beija-Flor as the champs, that officially made Lara and I “Winners of the 2004 Rio de Janeiro Carnaval.”  Now how’s that for a line on the resumé?

The drawback to being in the Carnaval parade — 2004 champion or not — was shipping the costume home.  Fortunately, my brother was on his way back to New York and I could pass it to him.  I bought a couple of duffel bags at Lojas Americanas, Brazil’s version of Target, and my costume fit inside just one of the bags tightly, minus the big torso harness piece that we just put in a big plastic garbage bag.  I hoped the airline baggage guys would play nice with it.

I had a farewell dinner and round of drinks with Terence, Paul and Mark at the usual La Maison — Mark and I shared a delicious Carioca seafood stew — and then we picked up their bags at my apartment.  The trio hopped in a cab and head off to the airport, and thus ended their guest appearances on “The Trinidad Show.”

Lara came home after a night out with her Guernsey friends.  She hadn’t heard the news, so I excitedly broke it to her:  she too was one of the “Winners of the 2004 Rio de Janeiro Carnaval.”

Seriously, does that not look good on a resumé or what?






Next entry: The Nerd of Copacabana

Previous entry: Fun With Foam




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Comments for “And The Winner Is...”

  • Hmmmm… who’s the big winner?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/28  at  02:00 PM


  • WINNERS!!

    i thought you guys rented those beija-flor outfits… it’s yours?? forever??! to keep…!  what a great souvenir!! it’ll make a winning costume for halloween too:)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/28  at  02:45 PM


  • oops! forgot to say something…

    I’M JEALOUS!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/28  at  02:47 PM


  • Rockin’ and rollin’ man. Word Life! YOWZA YOWZA YOWZA!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/29  at  12:18 AM


  • nice. now you can celebrate the Carnivale every year in costume!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/29  at  11:15 AM


  • Erik… with a resume that impressive, you could start your own Samba school when you get back to NYC!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/29  at  05:57 PM


  • wow, you get to keep the costume! i thought it was just rented. that is so cool. and your seafood stew looks yummy. =)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/01  at  05:33 PM


  • Ditto! You GET TO KEEP them?!!?!? That’s so awesome! I’m sure that you could wear it to the Village Halloween parade when you get back. Not that you could top the nut-sack gag, but hey, where else could you wear that carnivale get-up?!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/02  at  10:31 PM


  • CHRISTY:  Perhaps when I get back to the States (if I decide to hehe), and I’m DESPERATE for work, I’ll go into an interview back at PH—WEARING it of course.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/03  at  12:14 PM


  • Well, the follow-up phone call would be easy:  “Hi, I wanted to see if you’ve had a chance to review my resume—I was the guy wearing the Amazonian bird costume, you may have noticed my red speedo.”

    Oh, please. As if you could ever go back to a desk job. After this adventure? No chance! You will never be the same, staying put for more than 2 weeks is going to bore the hell out of you. Just stick to the tumblin’ tumble-weed gig—write, freelance, etc.—but for heaven’s sake, don’t go back to a desk! However you should visit your MOM from time-to-time!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/07  at  07:45 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
The Nerd of Copacabana

Previous entry:
Fun With Foam




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