It’s almost midnight, and I’m super tired, so we’ll see how this one goes.  I suppose I’d usually be asleep by now, but I have a bus to catch at 3:40am, so I’ll be staying up until then.  The bus is to El Bolson, Argentina, and takes about 24 hours.  It’ll be easy.  I’m currently in El Chalten, Argentina, where I did some hugely spectacular hiking.  It’s cold here, and super windy.On February 16th, 2012, I arrived in the city that ate my iPhone.  My iPhone was eaten during a “blocco,” where it was unscrupulously removed from my pocket by some dickhead.  O well.  Being robbed and/or pick-pocketed is a mellow speed-bump for most long-term travelers, so I wasn’t too fussed.  Maybe just for a day.  A “blocco” is the ever-raging, always-accessible, revelrously everywhere street party of Carnaval – Brazil’s, and likely the world’s, biggest and baddest party.  It was this party, this Carnaval, that first enticed me to begin my South America travels, on February 16th, 2012, in the city that ate my iPhone.  Rio De Ja-O-My-Holy-F*cking-Goodness-Neiro.

I arrived in Rio De Janeiro on February 16th, 2012, from Dubai.  The flight, an Emirates flight, lasted 15 hours, and honestly, I could have sat on it for another 15.  Those flights are incredible.  The movies, more movies, open bar, suspiciously great plane food, and painfully-smoking-hot team of stewardesses make those flights very enjoyable.  Developed a major crush on one of those stewardesses during my Nairobi to Dubai flight a few days prior – Lolita from Russia.  My god.  I tried to get her email address from another Emirates stewardess, Irina from Latvia, that I met in a hostel bar in Zanzibar, but she said this was a breach of confidentiality, or some shit.  COME ON IRINA!

So yea, I got to Rio, and man did I need a beer.  I just spent 6 weeks in East Africa, and man – did I need a beer.  So yea.  I got myself a beer and then a bunch more, because it’s Carnaval, and Carnaval is the party of all parties of all parties.  Let’s break it down.

First, Carnaval is bloccos.  Bloccos are just huge street parties, probably sized two square-blocks, where people dress in funky nothingness and pirate costumes and whatever slutty extras they’ve salvaged from Halloween, and get drunk and make out in the street.  There’s maybe like 20 bloccos a day, I guess, beginning around 8am and lasting until, well, I guess just the next morning, where they keep going.  During Carnaval, it’s acceptable to literally just grab the back of someone’s head and start kissing them, and if you deem the other person able to hold their own, or whatever, then you actually start a conversation.  If not, you just walk away.  Us gringos weren’t particularly brash on the giving end with this, but yea, the reception was inevitable.  Brazilian girls seemed to like white dudes.  Additionally, bloccos have music – big floats and trucks mulling down the street, samba bands atop blaring music to the drunkenness down below.  Can’t say I knew many words to the songs, but dancing along wasn’t so hard.  Beers were like $2.50, which helped a lot as well.

So yea, Carnaval was a party.  I’d probably make it home around 4 or 5am each night, and I was usually the first person back.  Kind of pathetic.  This post is assuming a bit of an uncensored, frank and fluent tone, so I’ll keep it all going by saying the girls – um – the girls were absurd.  Tens and tens and tens.  Everywhere.  It was quite honestly just a treat being in the presence of it all.  A real, real treat.

Aside from the parties and aside from the iconic beaches and aside from the alcohol and aside from me and an Aussie and two Kiwis and one Canadian stunting down Ipanema in matching blue and white pinstriped speedos –

– Carnaval is about the Samba Dromo.  The Samba Dromo is effectively a parade, in a stadium about, oh, half a kilometer long, where all of the best samba schools march their floats and dancers down the way and impress the drunken shit out of the audience.  It’s all incredibly professional, elaborate, and again, impressive.  If you go to Carnaval, you must go to the Samba Dromo – this is the real essence of it all.  I actually didn’t take my SLR to the Dromo, since my iPhone got eaten at a blocco a few days prior, but my buddy Arman took some photos, which, well, are here:

An amazing thing to be a part of.  The party eventually ended, after about a week, and all of the people that I’d been in the hostel with, for about a week, left.  I still loved Rio, and I wasn’t leaving.  So, I moved to another part of town, Santa Theresa, which is a cool, colorful, colonial, cobble-stoned neighborhood a few kilometers away.  The hostel was decent, I stayed for a few days, did a bit of hiking and some very relaxed and thorough sightseeing, and got a bit of sleep in.  They had a pool, too, which was nice.

One of those days, I was hanging out at the Lapa Steps, and I met a dude, maybe from England, who told me about another hostel, a super cool hostel, just a few minutes away.  So, the next day, I moved there.  The hostel is called Books, and it is super cool.  The whole place is decked out in fresh and funky graffiti, and it was just a very relaxed, creative, and party place to be.  Shots:

One of the better hostels in which I’ve ever stayed, actually.  Really, really enjoyed my time at Books, as well as the neighborhood in which it resides – Lapa.  Lapa is like the funky, samba, bohemian neighborhood of Rio, and, in it, myself and a bunch of the other super awesome kids at Books enjoyed several fantastic nights out.  Samba dancing, street food, wandering aimlessly, drinking caipirinhas from street carts and bars and friends, and loving the goddamn city.  Rio is so f*cking awesome.  If you’re American, the visa which you are required to obtain in order to enter Brazil is valid for 10 years, so I do really hope to get back in the next 9.6 years, because, Rio, well, Rio is so, so, very so f*cking awesome.

After two famous weeks, I sadly left Rio.  It was time to go.  Two weeks is actually quite a long time to spend in Rio, as a backpacker, if you aren’t working there.  It was great though.  I got to spend a whole afternoon and night atop Christ the Redeemer, a whole afternoon and night atop Sugarloaf, paid a bunch of visits to the Lapa Steps, woke up late, went to sleep late, went for a bike ride through all the beaches, got drunk some days and stayed sober others, drank many sucos and ate many lanches, and generally just lived very happily.  Smile:

What a special place.

Lastly, I think I took a few decent snaps in Rio, which I’ll show and label here:

Racinha Favela:

Christ the Redeemer:

From atop Sugarloaf:

From atop Sugarloaf:

From atop Sugarloaf:

From atop Christ the Redeemer:

Lapa Steps:

O, o Rio.  The city that ate my iPhone.  I simply cannot wait to see you again.  Soon enough my dear friend.

This bus should be fun and perhaps excuse the brashness,