When you hear the words, “Carnival in Brazil,” what images come to mind? Many of you would likely conjure mental pictures of giant floats and voluptuous women in flamboyant, glittering, butterfly costumes parading past enormous grandstands in the streets of Rio–and you wouldn’t be wrong. In fact, the festivities were likely broadcast on your TV just last week. But there is another side to “Carnaval.” The “real” side, where Brazilians dream of going.; and it is an ordeal to survive, and a wonder in which to partake.
My story begins on Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago, right here in New York City. One of my best friends came to visit from across the Pacific, and we went out for a party at a well-known club here in the City. It was a so-called “French Tuesday” to boot, thus one of the big clubbing nights of the month. We met up with some other friends, nabbed a table, and stayed out until near closing time. I got home not in the best of shape, but having trained myself over the years to function in this less-than-ideal state, I packed my bags for the trip, showered, and went to work. Bets were placed in the office on whether or not I would come back alive.