When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”

Clifton Fadiman

We headed out to one of the biggest block parties this morning. It was as if the entire city had transformed into an overcrowded festival. There were people going to the loo on the streets. I say ‘people’ as it wasn’t just men, and I say ‘going to the loo’ as it wasn’t just peeing. Charming. Any way, it’s perhaps unfair to start on such a low note. The atmosphere was ecstatic. Everybody had some form of fancy dress; masks for the less enthusiastic, full body costumes were the norm. There were stalls and coolers full of beer everywhere and men struggling through the crowds selling metre long tubes of brightly coloured liquid which, through curiosity, we decided to try. Unsurprisingly they tasted highly poisonous and merely had ‘alcohol drink’ as their label.

Parts of the rabble were hilarious such as particularly good fancy dress efforts (the transvestites were superb) and overly vigorous dancing. However the young men were not so entertaining. It would be highly inadvisable to visit one of these parties alone! The Brazilian equivalent to a chat up line consists of the man grabbing the girl as she walks past and forcing himself upon her. Not so great when you lose your friends in the crowd. I’m hoping the Sambadrome tonight will be slightly more civilised; Although at first amusing, I must admit that I’m not entirely taken by the down and dirty 24/7 block parties.


Here’s an example of some of the debris which accumulated at the sides of the roads. The parties, incidentally, take place all along the main roads of the city centre.


A standard group of locals. By the way, this is by no means my full costume. It’s supposed to be worn with a long skirt, which I didn’t feel was appropriate for obvious reasons, and the top half!


I thought this was hilarious: A man sitting on a roof, dressed as a cat, throwing glitter into the crowds. Also somebody was squirting foam from an aerosol in the foreground.