I am going to go back in time to February 2016, when two million people and I went to Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro.....
Attending Carnaval in Brazil was item #14 on my bucket list for years, and living in Brazil has given me the chance to cross it off the list. During dinner with my dear friend D during Home Leave last summer, I mentioned Carnaval. To my delight, she decided in that moment that she would spend her birthday week in Rio, and she followed through with her plan!
Growing up, I remember hearing and reading about Carnaval. In my mind, I sort of pictured it to be like a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans that had some topless women who danced samba. I remember arriving at the Sambadromo and being reminded of The Swamp at the University of Florida. So BIG. So many people. So much spirit. So much excitement and anticipation for the team.
Okay, so there were a few topless women in a couple of the samba schools (who did not have to be bribed with beads), and it was kind of like a parade (without candy being thrown out to small children). However, there was so much more. The floats were amazing and full of life and details. The costumes were magical. The music was awesome. People danced to the rhythm and sang along the whole time. EVERYONE danced and sang -- from seniors marching in the parade to the spectators in the box seats to the kids in the cheap seats. One older lady had to be pulled off her float for heat exhaustion, and as she hydrated, she was still dancing in her seat.
I swear I smiled for the WHOLE nine hours until it ended at 5 a.m. I was so happy. That's the kind of feeling that Carnaval gives you. I fell in love with Brazil that night, and it's been a pretty good love story ever since.