We’re going to Carnival in Brazil! We have a celebratory drink at the Pittsburgh International Airport while we wait to board our flight. On schedule, we land in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at 4:00pm. Only a quick layover is between us and our flight to Brazil…we think.
After boarding and deplaning twice, a cancelled flight, spending the night sleeping in the corner of a deserted gate of the airport, 14 hours later we are on our way to São Paulo-Guarulhous International Airport.
We land in São Paulo around 12:00am. After a 60 minute taxi ride we arrive at our friends’ home and are greeted with hugs, beer, and a ride to Anhembi Sambadrome.
We arrive into a sensory overload of confetti, music, dancing, drinking, cheering, an endless line of floats with elaborate costumes, feathers and vibrant colors. The floats range from royal frogs and cupids to the Brazilian soccer team, Palmeiras.
The Portuguese celebration begins every year the Friday before Ash Wednesday continuing until 12:00pm on Ash Wednesday. São Paulo began holding their own Carnival celebration in 1991. Samba schools compete to attract famous musicians and television stars to top their elaborate, themed floats. Each night’s festivities continue early into the next morning.
The scenery on the ride to Guarujá is filled with vibrant greens as we drive by mountains, forests, lush vegetation, and the occasional favela. As we get closer to the coast, the smell the salt water fills in the air.
Overcast as we walk to the beach, we don’t expect much of a crowd. The ocean comes into view along with masses of umbrellas, beach chairs, and people. With no room to walk along the sand, we maneuver to the water walking knee deep in the ocean searching for a less crowded area.
Our persistence pays off and we find an opening to lay our beach towels at the far end of the beach. A stunning backdrop of mountains and thick vegetation surround the ocean. Due to the lack of room on the beach, vendors selling hot, roasted corn on the cob park their carts in the ocean.
During our stay we eat very well dining on delicious homemade Brazilian cuisine, fresh bakery items, and experience an authentic Brazilian steakhouse. Getting accustomed to the late mornings, we awake around 11:00am to an abundance of tapioca crepes, fresh fruit, strong coffee, breads, cheeses, and lunch meats. For an after breakfast snack plates of chicken hearts and sausages are served, followed by lunch, dinner, a second dinner, and a late night snack.
Coxinhas – a water droplet shaped ball of dough containing shredded chicken battered, Pao de Quijo – cheese filled, fried bread balls, and Pastels – deep fried pockets of cheese and meats, similar to empanadas are eaten during at least one of the meals throughout the day.
We cannot thank our Brazilian family enough for their generous hospitality, delicious meals, and an unforgettable experience. Obrigado!