ARTICLES

Enter the Sambadrome: Shimmying Through Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Puddingstone Post, February 2015

An anecdote about participating in the big Carnival festivities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Puddingstone Post, February 2015)

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ENTRIES FROM THE GLOBAL TRIP BLOG CHRONICLES

Oi, Corumba!

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 01, 2004

DAY 104: The sun rose and woke me up around six in the morning, only after a mere three-hour slumber.  What the sun revealed was worth the rude awakening though; we were well into the Bolivian side of The Pantanal, with its marshy, tropical vegetation and impressive rocky cliff formations.  The girl next to me wasn’t so impressed; tired, she just kept on sleeping, often falling and leaning on my shoulder until she’d suddenly wake up embarrassed.  When another two-seater opened up after a stop, she snatched it to sleep in peace.

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COPS in The Pantanal

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 01, 2004

DAY 105:  I woke up that Sunday morning early and got in dressed in my Sunday best — I was off to the Federal Police station for my entry visa stamp, obligatory mugshot and fingerprints for being American, since I couldn’t get them the day before at the border.  I wore my nerdy Poindexter glasses in attempts to look less of a criminal, or perhaps just a white collar one.

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The Sims

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 02, 2004

DAY 106:  “The C Phase,” a phrase I coined (or at least I think I did) is that inevitable period of time when a non-Spanish speaker first enters Latin America and, confused with the language, just says “si” (“yes”) to everything. 

“[Would you like me to charge you more money than I normally do to a local?]”

“Si.”

The C Phase got me in many predicaments, like on a mountain bike ride through the Ecuadorean countryside and on a cargo boat trip through Peru, until I eventually got the hang of Spanish and started to understand the gist of what people were saying.  However, in Brazil, the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America where “yes” translates to “sim,” I was back to square one.

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Eight Hours to Nowhere

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 06, 2004

DAY 107:  There was a Brazilian morning show on television called Mais Você hosted by a sassy middle-aged woman and — although targeted for adults — a talking parrot puppet.  I figured the Brazilians needed to spice up their mornings with a soft-spoken character that could spontaneously explode into loud outbursts, the way Americans did with Regis Philbin.

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Caimans and Big Cats

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 06, 2004

DAY 108:  The one thing about wilderness safaris is that, unlike a visit to the zoo, animals aren’t presented in convenient, sectioned off areas.  The one guarantee about safaris is that there is no guarantee you’ll see anything good.  I had come to the Pantanal in hopes of seeing big cats — pumas or jaguars — but was disheartened when I heard that one Croatian girl who had been there a month working in the camp hadn’t seen a big cat yet.

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The Last American Cowboy

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 06, 2004

DAY 109:  Frodo, who fleed like a girl when the caiman got temporarily loose the day before, had the same sort of reaction when he had to de-hook the piranha he caught from the bridge where we were fishing for our early morning activity.  He was too scared to handle the “man-eating” fish until it eventually got loose, fell through the bridge planks and back into the creek.

I shouldn’t have laughed because if I were in his shoes, I would have probably acted the same way — that is, if I had caught anything.  I had no fish to contribute to the group pile.  Meanwhile, Mika, an aspiring tennis star from Holland, was master of the fish with a catch of four.

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Standing Room Only

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 08, 2004

DAY 110:  I don’t know if it was from the horseback riding or the fact that I slept in a hammock that had sunk low from everyone’s drunken swinging, but I woke up with every muscle in my body sore.  Perhaps it was a combination of the two.

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Eat Your Heart Out

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 08, 2004

DAY 111: On my first day in Campo Grande, I was totally confused with the Portuguese language and just said “sim” (“yes”) to everything.  Being in the Pantanal for three days with mostly English-speaking tourists, I didn’t get to practice much of the new language, so when I got back to Campo Grande, not much had changed.

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An Episode of E.R.

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 08, 2004

DAY 112:  Behind the scenes, the producers of “The Trinidad Show” (me) had been emailing certain former cast members in hopes they would return for another appearance.  Like the returns of Diane on Cheers and Lilith on Frasier, Lara — who I met in Lima, spent Christmas in Cusco with, partied with in La Paz, and toured the Bolivian salt flats with — came back for some more episodes.

Little did we know that her comeback would be on an episode similar to one of the medical drama E.R.

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When Quatis Attack!

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 10, 2004

DAY 113:  Iguaçu/Iguazu [Brazilian/Spanish spelling] Falls, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders and a UNESCO site as of 1986, is a massive collection of 275 waterfalls at the borders of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, where gravity pulls down millions of gallons of water in a great spectacle that looks great on a postcard.

I had been recommended by everyone who had already been there to visit the Brazilian side first for an overview of the falls before seeing it up close in Argentina.  I passed this recommendation onto Lara and so we went off on our own to the national park just 3 km. away and accessible by public bus.

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Great Adventure

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 13, 2004

DAY 114:  When Lara and I signed up for a tour of the Argentine side of Iguazu Falls with the Hostelling International office, we spent the extra 10 real on a tour called “Gran Aventura” that included both a truck and boat ride.  Like the Six Flags theme park with the English translation of the tour name, the tour included a wet and wild ride through the roaring rapids of the Rio Iguazu.

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Dumb and Dumber Day

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 13, 2004

DAY 115:  I don’t know if was the daze and confusion of a slight hangover from partying the night before, but all day Lara and I just acted silly and stupid like Harry and Lloyd in 1994’s Dumb and Dumber.

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Race to Rio

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 13, 2004

DAY 116:  In CBS’s Emmy award-winning reality show The Amazing Race — coincidentally, a show I tried to get on with wheat — teams of two must get over their differences and work as a team to beat other teams to the finishing checkpoint in some city around the world.  Without being on the actual show, I had no definite finish line to get to.

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Welcome to Rio

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 15, 2004

DAY 117:  I woke up in my seat the middle of the night on my overnight bus from Foz do Iguaçu to Rio de Janeiro.  My eyes opened and saw that Lara wasn’t in her seat next to me.  I assume she moved to the two empty seats behind us to spread out and closed my eyes again.

I opened my eyes a couple of hours later and saw that in Lara’s chair was a big Brazilian man.

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Fantasies From The Thirteenth Floor

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 17, 2004

DAY 118:  For my first full day in Rio de Janeiro, the goal was to figure out the plan of attack for the rest of the stay through Carnaval.  Lara and I had two mission objectives:  1) to find a place to stay since our Botofogo hostel was already booked for Carnaval time — at three times the price of the regular rate — and 2) to try and figure out a way to join a samba school and actually march in the Carnaval parade rather than be a spectator.

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And The Crowd Goes Wild

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 18, 2004

DAY 119:  In the U.S.A., “football” refers to the classic American sport where teams of padded warriors duke it out under their coaches’ plays, so they can ultimately work their way to the Big Game where Janet Jackson gets her boob flashed on national television.  In the rest of the world, “football” refers to what Americans call “soccer,” and it is an international phenomenon which brings out the obsessed craziness in most people.  No where is football (soccer) more a part of national culture than in Brazil.

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Miscommunications

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 19, 2004

DAY 120:  The only task Lara and I had for the day was to try on our Beija-Flor costumes for when we marched in the Rio Carnaval and we were back at our tour agent in Copacabana in time for our 10 a.m. appointment.  A pet turtle on the floor walked by, foreshadowing what a slow process it would be to get our new clothes.

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New Neighbors

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 19, 2004

DAY 121:  It’s one thing to travel and live out of a bag, hostel to hostel to hostel.  It’s another to actually travel somewhere and live there for a while.  That morning, Lara and I checked out of our Botofogo hostel dorm to find out exactly how living in Rio felt like.  We packed our bags and took a cab to our agent Luis in Copacabana, who was all set to bring us to the apartment when we arrived. 

“Oh, you mean the one that overlooks Copacabana Beach?” Lara said yet again with a smirk.  It became her tag line for whenever we mentioned the new pad.

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The Girl From Ipanema

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 19, 2004

DAY 122:  Seeing the state of the dining room table the morning after a first night celebration of our new apartment, there was no explanation needed for the fact that Lara was pretty much sick and hungover all day.  I was feeling fairly okay — nothing that a little breakfast couldn’t cure.  Lara stayed in bed feeling rough while I went out to attend to Blog duties at an internet cafe and buy a couple of more groceries:  a fresh baguette for Lara and slices of cheese for my hangover breakfast, the good ol’ American grilled cheese sandwich.

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Before We Have Company

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 19, 2004

DAY 123:  Since both my roommate Lara and I had company coming from overseas to Rio de Janeiro for Carnaval, we were saving visits to the major tourist attractions for when they arrived.  Avoiding the famous Pâo de Açúcar rock formations and the towering Cristo Redentor statue overlooking the city, we simply decided to go on the walking tour of the central city as written in our Lonely Planet guide.

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Incoming!

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 25, 2004

DAY 124:  The Friday before Carnaval weekend in Rio de Janeiro, city of the world’s most famous party, was the day the city really geared up for the influx of tourists.  Men in costume and on stilts waited that morning in front of oceanfront hotels (picture above) for the lines of taxis that eventually pulled in all day.  By the late afternoon, the streets were full of even more people — many of which had the familiar accent from my homeland — and I said to myself, “Could there be any more Americans here?”

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Meanwhile, Back at the Airport

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 25, 2004

DAY 125:  Before the 10:30 meeting time with some of my friends from the New York area, I had a couple of errands to run.  Despite the round and rounds of beers, cuba libres and caipirinhas with our big group the night before, I was awake early and performed our morning ritual of going out to the supermarket with the in-store bakery for some fresh baguettes.  On the way back, I stopped off at a florist to get Lara a yellow rose, simply because I felt like it — her white one on our dining room table was about halfway dead.  The florist heard me stammering in Portuguese and thought I was Japanese until I said “Americano” and eventually “Filipino” to explain my Asian-looking eyes.  Hearing the latter, he immediately got excited, trying to explain to me something about volcanoes or something.  I kept on saying, “Sim, Pinatubo,” but he kept on trying to tell me something else — he even drew out a picture of a volcanic eruption on a piece of paper to explain himself, but I just didn’t get it.  I smiled and just said, “Sim, Pinatubo, Pinatubo,” again and just walked away.

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Fly Like An Eagle

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 26, 2004

DAY 126 (PART 1):  Lara was buttering another fresh baguette in the morning, before spreading on a layer of her favorite spread Marmite, which she excitedly received the day before when her friends Ester and Pago brought it over from home.  We sat over breakfast and waited around for people to come over at 9:30 so we could all try and go hand-gliding together.  First to arrive were Esther and Pago and I leaned out the window to see if anyone was coming around.  Suddenly I recognized a familiar wavy hairstyle on a guy walking around, looking fairly confused.

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The Chaperone

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 26, 2004

DAY 126 (PART 2):  A taxi took us to the apartment in Santa Teresa, which was situated on a dead end street called Rua Murtinho Nobe that most cab drivers didn’t know the location of.  With the help of CB radio, we eventually made it to the three-bedroom place on the third floor of a five-story building.  We sat around, beerless, wondering what to do before going to the Sambadrome for the first night of Carnaval after midnight.  Sharon went off into the other room and come back with a smile.

“I have a date.”

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Enter The Sambadrome

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 26, 2004

DAY 127:  Carnaval, like New Orleans’ Mardi Gras and the U.K.‘s Pancake Day, is the celebration just before Ash Wednesday and the Christian season of Lent.  During Lent you are supposed to give up your vices and pleasantries and suffer for forty days in preparation of Easter, and so, Carnaval was designed as a way to party your ass off before having to give it all up.  In Rio, partying is done in the form of samba, where you party your ass off by shaking it as fast as you can.

Samba parades in Rio de Janeiro began in 1932 and over the decades, evolved into a huge spectacle that attracted people from around the world.  By the early 1980s, there were so many people coming down to Rio for the festival and so, in 1984, a huge venue known as the Sambadrome was created in order to contain the masses.  With the 20th anniversary of the Sambadrome, to be in the Carnaval parade was only the more special; as touristy as it was, I couldn’t wait to be down there in costume, marching the parade route.  However, experiencing the touristy Sambadrome that night would have to come after seeing another tourist attraction in the day.

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Fun With Foam

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 28, 2004

DAY 128:  “Fat Tuesday” — known by the French as “mardi gras” — is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the Christian season of Lent where you are to chill out with all your comforts in preparation of Easter.  Therefore, Fat Tuesday is the one last chance to party before the forty days and forty nights of “suffering,” so you’d better make it good.  Little did I know on Fat Tuesday morning that in Rio de Janeiro, “Fat Tuesday” should actually be called “Foam Tuesday.”

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And The Winner Is…

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted 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.

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The Nerd of Copacabana

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 28, 2004

DAY 130:  By the time I woke up in the morning in my Copacabana apartment, Terence, Mark and Paul had already arrived at JFK International in New York City.  With my company gone, it was time to keep a promise I’d made to myself and my audience:  to stay in all day and catch up on Blog duties.

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Reaching the Threshold in Rio

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 29, 2004

DAY 131:  It was only about ten in the morning when the doorbell rang.  Lara and I were still half asleep.  I opened the door and on the other side was Luis, the designated English-speaker at Angramar Turismo, the guys that got us costumes and tickets in the Rio Sambadrome Carnaval and the apartment we were living in.  Luis wasn’t his usual mild-mannered self that morning; in fact, he came in really pissed off about something.

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Bye, Bye Brazil

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted February 29, 2004

DAY 132:  Lara was up all set for her last opportunity for our daily morning cheese, Gilmore Girls and Touched By An Angel.  It being Saturday, The Warner Channel on our satellite TV was running cartoons instead, and so the only thing to do was pack our bags and clean out the apartment.  Lara was still pretty angry that Luis yelled at us the morning before with false accusations instead of approaching it professionally — especially after all the problems we had with them that we let slide — and didn’t want Angramar Turismo to get any more satisfaction out of us.  She made sure she packed the fairly heavy bottle of tomato sauce in her bag instead of just leaving it behind for the owner to have.

“I know it’s childish, but fuck them, I’m going to be childish.”

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ABOUT ERIK R. TRINIDAD

When he’s not making a living as an interactive/motion designer or playing with fast food, Erik R. Trinidad is a travel writer, blogger, video host and producer focusing on adventure and culinary content. His work has been featured on National Geographic Intelligent Travel, Adventure.com, Discovery.com, Saveur, Condé Nast Traveler, and Hyenas Laughed at Me and Now I Know Why, which also includes the work of Tim Cahill, Doug Lansky, Jennifer Leo and Rolf Potts. He has also referenced his travel experiences in his solo book, Fancy Fast Food: Ironic Recipes with No Bun Intended.

For over ten years, Erik has traveled to the seven continents of the world — from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo — with a curiosity for exotic foods and a thirst for adventure (and writing material).  In his travels, he has been mugged at knifepoint in Cape Town, extorted by corrupt Russian police on the Trans-Siberian Railway, stranded in tornadic storms in the American midwest, and air-lifted off the Everest Trail by a helicopter that was thankfully paid for by his travel insurance.  But it hasn’t been all fun; he has also donned a tuxedo amidst the penguins of Antarctica, paraded with Carnival-winning samba school Beija Flor in Rio, run for his life at Pamplona’s “Running of the Bulls,” cage-dived with great white sharks, gotten shot point-blank in the stomach in Colombia (while wearing a bulletproof jacket), and above all, encountered many people around the world, including some Peruvian musicians in Cuzco who learned and played “Y.M.C.A.” at his request. He loves the irony that, after everywhere he’s been, he has never been to Mexico.

Erik writes stories and news articles when he’s at his base camp in New York City, and continues his blog when he is on the road — provided he’s not occupied tracking down lost luggage.

Additional news/article clippings at ErikTrinidad.com.



See Erik talk about travel in an American Express ad:



Read about Erik in this feature article from Filipinas magazine by National Geographic Traveler Associate Editor Amy Alipio.



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