Tonight’s theme is Vai Que–-vient qui veut–and, yes, they do come all.
We gather with the locals at the apex, beers and cocktails galore in makeshift carts and pulleys and whatnot, and for the price of a US cocktail, my bartender-for-the-evening pours me a jumbo plastic cup brimming with vodka, a lake for the few bobbing ice cubes, and hands me a tonic to wash down my quarter-handle of juice.
Lots of bang for my buck, that’s for sure, and before long, the crowd lurches forward and carries us up, up and away into the São Paulo night, music emanating from somewhere, folly coming from everywhere.
It’s a grab fest of sexuality and sensuality, couples unabashedly tonguing in the periphery, one man hoping for a kiss at every pair of female lips, another one claiming his sweets with a curvy girl in nurse’s outfit.
Tonight, it’s more about the people watching and gabbing, Brazilians curious about our clearly not-from-here looks of bewilderment and awe, caught up in the raucous vibe of Halloween meets Bacchus, an endless tail of Leaving Las Vegas making its way through the day-glo night.
This is fun, and I’ve barely sipped on my alcoholic-sized beverage.
Buffer me up with by besties and their honeys, and I think we could most definitely make merry all the livelong night in this living theater of the absurd, and in fact, note to self, next time, let’s do Rio, because I’ve just tasted the Carnaval beast and with a hair more preparation and foresight–AKA, a nice and quiet respite away from the noise, should we choose a momentary escape–it could be a wild way to end a South American exploration with friends.
Then, suddenly, to snap me out of my reverie is homeboy from the protest, V himself, we’re sure, and he embraces Graham and I like long lost friends for he saw us snapping pics at the demonstration. It’s a touch freaky this recollection of his, but no matter, for we swap knowledge of congressman Renan and his evil ways.
The parade takes us across a massive intersection, anticipation of our passing thick and contradictory, drivers perch over their steering wheels with eager patience, others abandon ship, consumed by the mass, driver nowhere to be found.
We march uphill, the street lights revealing thickets of revelers and musicians and clowns and baby daddies and Belgians and Coloradans. You could lose yourself in the madness, never to be seen or heard from again until early next week, ready for absolution come Ash Wednesday, forty days of purging and constraint, preparation for the spring rebirth, liver ready for the new dawn–Beltane’s spring-summer days of long days and even shorter nights.
We, however, see this as time for a graceful exit–Marie, Thierry, Graham, and I pluck ourselves out of the throng, our presence no loss for the Carnaval festival, and off we go in search of a more intimate block party, something stationary, perhaps around a table, knives and forks optional.