Fun With Foam


This blog entry about the events of Monday, February 23, 2004 was originally posted on 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.”

CALL ME A TECHNOPHILE, but I can’t conceive of life without the internet and mobile phones.  Well, that’s not completely true; to get away from it for a while is refreshing, but not when you’re trying to contact your brother on the other side of town.  I knew his apartment had a phone, but I didn’t have one in mine, nor a number to call him anyway.  Mark did however have a mobile phone that accept text messages, so I woke up early — way too early after the night of parading in the Sambadrome — to send him a message from the internet cafe two blocks down.  He eventually got it and we planned to meet at two in the afternoon at our usual beach front restaurant, La Maison. 

Meanwhile, Lara had also waken up at an ungodly time in the morning, after only about three and a half hours of sleep.  On the bright side, she was up just in time for our daily viewing of morning cheese, Gilmore Girls and her favorite, Touched By An Angel.  After chuckling at the glowing Della Reese, Lara joined me to meet the crew from Santa Teresa.  We had lunch together — for Sharon, it was the last time.  With her duffel bag in hand, she left after eating for the airport.  A rookie backpacker on a first big trip, she was off to Cairo to explore Egypt and Turkey for a couple of months.

LARA WENT HER OWN WAY AS WELL, leaving it to just the four boys to cause a ruckus on the streets of Rio. 

“Where do we go?” Terence asked me.

“We’ll just walk and run into something,” I answered.  In a city of seemingly spontaneous samba street parades, we were bound to encounter one.

The sky was gray, but everyone in town was out and about on the closed side of the two-partition Avenida Atlantica along the beach — even the dogs were dress up festively.  In less than five minutes, we did run into a samba street parade en route to Ipanema — in fact, there was one about every four blocks or so.  Although each had its own unique group and song melodies, one common thread between all the samba parades was foam.

By foam I don’t mean the saliva coming out of a rabid dog’s mouth, I’m talking about party foam that sprays out of a can like shaving cream.  I wasn’t sure exactly what the party foam was made out of — I’d rather not know — but I do know that it was a blast having a can of it.  People sprayed foam into the air to have it rain down on others, whether they liked it or not.  Some put loads on their heads to make puffy white hairdos.  Street kids that would normally beg for food or money begged for a handful of foam instead — I was happy to furnish some.

Just like the kids playing with foam amongst themselves, Terence, Paul, Mark and I walked down to Ipanema, foam fighting, spraying foam on each other in different ways (other picture above).  Walking through the quiet commercial block in between Copacabana and Ipanema, all we got was stares and weird looks from passers-by. 

AFTER CHILLING OUT AND POSING FOR PHOTOS AT THE ARPOADOR, the small, rocky peninsula that jutted out into the Atlantic at the end of Ipanema beach, we checked out the scene along the beach front.  Fat Tuesday festivities continued all along the road as afternoon turned into evening and evening into night.  Street vendors sold souvenirs and other various chotskies.  Paul asked for a lighter from one of them and when asked for which color in Portuguese, he answered in the only Portuguese he knew:  “Murtinho Norbe” — the name of the street their apartment was on.

Food and drink vendors profited more than the souvenir vendors, selling hot dogs, churros, grilled cheese skewers and of course, alcohol, to the thousands of people in the streets.  Everywhere we turned, we heard at least one vendor selling Brazil’s Skol beer by yelling “Skol, Skol, Skol!”  The more we drank it, the more we loudly imitated the vendors like fools.

Beer wasn’t the only drink being consumed; we also had big bottles of sangria and cocktails with Red Bull and Johnnie Walker Red.  Unknowingly for some, the combination didn’t bode well in the stomach; for others (namely me and Paul), it just made them pee on the beach.

The 2004 Camisinha parade came around, a predominantly gay parade that promoted safe sex.  Drag queens and gay men dressed in sailor hats marched through a packed crowd of parade-goers.  We followed the parade spraying foam in the air, until some thief who was eyeing us made a grab for Paul’s necklace.  Fortunately, it was just broken, not stolen.

We head back the other way and saw that car traffic started coming through one of the open lanes — each vehicle had no escape from the revelers and their cans of spray foam.  As each one came by, we’d spray the windshield all up — despite the fact that there was no rain, wipers were a must.

AFTER BEFRIENDING ONE OF THE BEACH HIPPIES selling homemade jewelry and other paraphernalia, we walked back to Copacabana to find another party.  It wasn’t hard at all and in two seconds we were right near one where people were dancing to the infectious beat of a live drum and brass band.

“We need to get in there,” Paul suggested.  The four of us entered the crowd of happy dancing people and shook our booties as the Cariocas did.

BY THIS POINT IN THE NIGHT, all the Skol, sangria and Johnnie Walker transformed my brother from marketing manager on vacation to samba dancing machine.  He went right up to the woman dressed as the queen of the small parade and shook his pelvis faster than Elvis ever could.  A fairly large old woman asked him to dance and he bumped and grinded away with her for a bit.  Mark became such a spectacle with his moves that other tourists assumed he was a part of the act.  Two girls from Sacramento went over to take a photo with him.  We revealed to the California Girls that we weren’t Brazilian but from New York; they danced the night with us anyway.  A happy Carioca man joined in our little circle and had no escape from the spraying of the foam either.  When the band finished, a DJ continued the music on big speakers.  A conga line went around a couple of times, the prime target for a little spray foam attack.  My can of foam had already run out, so I asked some kids for some of theirs.  They returned the favor and I did my dirty work — but not without getting foam all over myself as well. 

HUNGRY AND FOAMLESS, we left the California Girls for a bit to grab some food at the restaurant known for prostitute pickups.  Despite that fact, it was a fairly classy-looking joint with classy food.  I ordered two of the duck dishes, one for me and one for Mark who was already on his way to the bathroom to, as Lara calls it, “be sick.”  I went to check on him and he was doing fine — as fine as any guy leaning over the edge of a toilet bowl gagging.  Eventually he came back to the table.

“Cancel my order.”

At the table next to us was an old man who came in with two obvious-looking hookers.  By the time his meal was over, there were five working girls there, hoping to get a little piece of the action — and by action I mean the kind that folds and buys you candy. The sextet entertained me, Terence and Paul as we ate our food.  Mark just had his head down on the table until he got up to go to the bathroom again.  I went to tend to him — the way he or Terence had done for me many times in New York — and found out he was fine; he just needed some rest.

With the garbage bin a little sloppier than when Mark entered the bathroom, the two of us left for the apartment in Copacabana.  Although walkable, we took a taxi.  Mark passed out on the sofa.

Lara was still out, so I left her a note to excuse my brother’s state — also so she wouldn’t mistake him for me — and went out to meet Terence and Paul.  They had already walked bck toward my apartment with a doggie bag of food, so we went up to put it in the fridge.  I was all set to go out again, but then Terence passed out, leaving Paul and myself to just lounge around the living room to watch television and sing the theme song of The O.C.

Soon Lara came home from hanging out with her Guernsey crew and joined Paul and I in marveling at the state of Mark and Terence.  Eventually I got the two guys up and we hopped in a cab to their apartment in the quieter residential neighborhood of Santa Teresa, away from the samba, the booze, and above all, the spray party foam.

Next entry: And The Winner Is…

Previous entry: Enter The Sambadrome

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Comments for “Fun With Foam”

  • Hey was busy travelling (work related) and am loaded with work again.. saw ur blog after ages. Cool party!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/28  at  01:37 PM

  • Hmmm foam… kinda reminds me of the Cedar Lane sidewalk sale… but with better bootie and music.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/28  at  01:53 PM

  • hahah… nice picture of terence!

    sounds like a blast!!

    (i’m jealous)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/28  at  02:31 PM

  • DUAINE: why you gotta bring cedar lane back up in this?


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/28  at  04:43 PM

  • markyt:  Because as a kid, you couldn’t buy shaving cream anywhere near there… I had to go to Bergenfield to get some on my way over there, year after year after year.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/28  at  05:07 PM

  • DUSTY:  Hey, welcome back!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/28  at  06:25 PM

  • DUAINE/MARKYT:  Don’t make me come out there and mention The Rink!

    (There, I said it.)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/28  at  06:26 PM

  • I hope that foam is non-toxic!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/29  at  05:47 PM

  • MARKYT: gettin some MILF booty, huh? nice pic..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/29  at  10:27 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 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.

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Next entry:
And The Winner Is…

Previous entry:
Enter The Sambadrome


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