Operation Badger travel blog

Carnival Freaks













So, we left Guatemala on Friday at some point and because we are on cheap skate round the world tickets, had to go via Miami first. The only part of this journey that ran smoothly was the transfer from Antigua to the airport, and once there went downhill. We hadn’t applied for the US immigration thing because we assumed as were just connecting onto a different flight there, would not have to go through customs. (But no, because it’s America we had to go through customs, security, collect our bags, security, put bags back on, customs, security and back to flight side). So an hour of sweating later we managed to apply for this online but what pissed us off the most is that you still have to fill in the hard copy on the plane so we didn’t really see the point at all.

So, 20 mins outside Miami, the pilot comes onto the tanoy to inform us that Miami airport is closed due to bad weather and we would just potter about in the sky until it re-opened. All this pottering led us to run out of fuel so we landed elsewhere on the coast to re-fuel and eventually got to Miami two and a half hours late, which left us with 45 mins to complete the above arduous tasks of security/customs blah, blah blah. Funnily enough the Americans were less than helpful and we don’t think we have come across such a rude and arrogant bunch of people as those in customs at Miami airport. They rather fancied themselves as some kind of Sergeant Major and we got completely bollocked for standing in the customs line together (you have to be married to be allowed to do that!). They expect everyone to address them as Sir – no chance! And because I still had some piece of paper that we’d filled in on the plane but no one had asked us for, he told me off for not handing it in and then kept saying, “don’t do that again. You understand me? Hey, you understand me!” in the most condescending voice ever! So we get to our connecting flight 1 minute before boarding time to find out that because of the bad weather it wasn’t leaving for another 3 hours anyway. Suffice to say we eventually arrived in Rio about 24 hours after leaving Guatemala, in bad moods and not helped by the 42 degrees stifling heat.

As it is carnival time, the streets are rammed with makeshift bars, food stalls, very drunk and stoned people and samba music everywhere. We had tickets to the actual carnival on Sunday night. The pictures of which will describe it better but in a word, it’s absolutely mental. Every Samba school/club in Rio produces amazing costumes and floats and they basically parade along a cordoned off road of about 1 mile long which takes about an hour from start to finish. There were thousands of people in each parade and once one had finished there was a break of about half an hour and the next lot would start. Some of the most random floats included a dry ski slope where spideman would climb up and then Batman would ski down, cape blowing in the wind. There was a Michael Jackson float with some cool dance moves, and literally everything from bulls, dragons to just things that defy description! This continued from 9pm to 6am. Being jet lagged and slightly drunk on beer, we lasted till 2am only! Once each school has finished, they all dump their costumes which are littered all over Rio, up for the taking if desired (Our hotel has remnants of costumes on every floor). All in all, quite a surreal and cool evening.

The following day we went to what is quipped as the ‘best beach in the world’ – Copacabana. I don’t know about best beach in the world – white sand yes, cool views (sugar loaf mountain), yes, aquamarine sea, no. And it was absolutely packed, you wouldn’t be able to find a spot to put down a towel to sunbathe even if you wanted to (which we didn’t) and coming from the pacific coast and Caribbean, the Atlantic ocean was bloody freezing! Again, lots of samba music and bars but far too many thongs and speedos for our liking!

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