Samba or Soca: Would you choose Rio Carnival over Trinidad Carnival?

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So what if I told you that I was giving up Carnival in Brazil for Carnival in Port of Spain? You would probably say that I was crazy, foolish or have to be joking, right? Maybe you might say I just got bitten by the notorious Trinidad Carnival bug.
Well, let me tell you, I am coming home for Carnival 2k11, and I am giving up the opportunity to spend it in Brazil, where I have the cities of Salvador, Recife, Olinda and Rio de Janiero to choose from. Did I mention that I only recently came back from Trinidad after spending five weeks at home enjoying the ‘pre-wining season’? So what really is my story?
I have had the fortune of spending more than half my life living outside of Trinidad. I’ve lived in England, France and the U.S. I am currently in Brazil ‘living the dream’, according to my friends, and don’t get me wrong, I am blessed, but anybody who has lived in a foreign country will concur that it is not always a bed of roses and the novelty wears off.
It takes a while to integrate, to know your way around, learn the ways of the land, and, in my case, learn de people language. It can be a lonely and humbling existence, as you are no longer in your comfort zone. Not that I don’t have friends or find it difficult making ones, but sometimes when all you crave is a hot, tasty doubles, with slight pepper and an Apple J, unfortunately you have to settle for tapioca and coconut water.
Brazil has so much to offer other than the postcard image of bikini-toting women with big posteriors, small waists, curly hair with the ability to seduce a man and render him motionless with one piercing look. There are miles of beautiful beaches, seemingly endless natural resources with minerals from the south, oil to the east, and rich, fertile land in the north. The smiles of the locals, the comforting climate and the plethora of sweet melodic music make this place a true paradise, just like Trinidad, but ‘different’. No wonder Brazilians, like Trinis, are a happy bunch.
Carnival in Brazil is rich in culture, tradition, music and colour. Recife has the world famous ‘Galo da Madrugada’, where over a million people crowd the street dressed in costumes from bikinis to spider-man pyjamas. Bahia has religious festivals like Candomblé and martial arts like capoeira mixed in with their festivities to make this carnival incredibly diverse.
Then there is Rio, or as the Brazilians pronounce it ‘Hio’. Rio has the lavish swanky carnival, where the professional samba dancers do their thing to a mix of local music.  Samba in itself is a mixture of African, European and Cuban beats, hugely influenced by the African slaves, who were brought to the states of Bahia and Rio and ended up living in the favelas (slums) of the ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’.
So why give all this up? I mean Trinidad Carnival not going anywhere, so why not take this opportunity to revel in a different culture that I am coming to love? Oh… and gape too!
Well, Rio has been going through a lot over the last few months. Three months ago the state government decided that they had enough of being embarrassed by drug pushers, thieves, and murderers, who have been running amuck for quite some while. They went on an all-out offensive, storming some of the most notorious favelas with a zero tolerance policy. They made no joke.
The aftermath is a city recovering from car and bus bombings, arson attacks, and a city with police and military force that will not hesitate to ‘put two’ in anyone they catch on the wrong side of the law. Oh, not to mention a population living in fear. The state of Rio de Janiero also experienced the worst weather-related natural disaster in the country’s history, over Christmas and the New Year, leaving almost 1,000 people dead and thousands more homeless.
Even if I were to overlook all this and say let me suck it up and experience de people dem culture this year, the economics just don’t make sense. After a bit of research, I found out that a return ticket to Rio from Recife and accommodation is more than the price of a return ticket to Trinidad. Hang on a second… Trinidad is home, I eh paying for no hotel home. Then I think about it some more and realise, I eh know nobody in Rio and don’t know my way around, so let’s throw in another $200US for transport, because I not taking the buses after seeing movies like “City of God” and “Bus 174”. Whilst checking to see how to ‘play mas’ there, I found out that I have to be enrolled in a samba school, so that rules me out of taking part in the ‘Sambadrome’ unfortunately.
I could still enjoy the street parties, but as we all know from our carnival, the music, vibe, and crew is as important as the scenery.  Don’t get me wrong, my friends here are fun, but I don’t care how much Samba, Frevo, Brega, Bossa nova, Forró, Pagode, Axé and Sertanejo you throw at me, for 2k11, I definitely prefer to be getting on “Wotless”, “Wining to the side”, and possibly taking “Advantage” somewhere in Port of Spain. All this will be done with the knowledge that I will have my ten-strong crew, who without doubt, will be feeling the same way.  Not to mention, there will no doubt be the added excitement of one or two angry Soca artistes who might pull a Ravi B at Soca Monarch this week.
So, with all this in mind, I think I might give it a year or two, before I rounds up the boys, enrol them in a samba school and make a big lime. As much as I am for cultural diversity, cultural awareness and embracing my new environment, please allow me as I indulge myself by spending my hard-earned money on partying with my friends, roaming around my own ‘cidade maravilhosa’ and enjoying melodious pan, sweet Chutney, Soca, Calypso, and some extra bacchanal too.

riocarnivalSo what if I told you that I was giving up Carnival in Brazil for Carnival in Port of Spain? You would probably say that I was crazy, foolish or have to be joking, right? Maybe you might say I just got bitten by the notorious Trinidad Carnival bug.  

Well, let me tell you, I am coming home for Carnival 2k11, and I am giving up the opportunity to spend it in Brazil, where I have the cities of Salvador, Recife, Olinda and Rio de Janiero to choose from. Did I mention that I only recently came back from Trinidad after spending five weeks at home enjoying the ‘pre-wining season’? So what really is my story? 

I have had the fortune of spending more than half my life living outside of Trinidad. I’ve lived in England, France and the U.S. I am currently in Brazil ‘living the dream’, according to my friends, and don’t get me wrong, I am blessed, but anybody who has lived in a foreign country will concur that it is not always a bed of roses and the novelty wears off.


It takes a while to integrate, to know your way around, learn the ways of the land, and, in my case, learn de people language. It can be a lonely and humbling existence, as you are no longer in your comfort zone. Not that I don’t have friends or find it difficult making ones, but sometimes when all you crave is a hot, tasty doubles, with slight pepper and an Apple J, unfortunately you have to settle for tapioca and coconut water. 

Brazil has so much to offer other than the postcard image of bikini-toting women with big posteriors, small waists, curly hair with the ability to seduce a man and render him motionless with one piercing look. There are miles of beautiful beaches, seemingly endless natural resources with minerals from the south, oil to the east, and rich, fertile land in the north. The smiles of the locals, the comforting climate and the plethora of sweet melodic music make this place a true paradise, just like Trinidad, but ‘different’. No wonder Brazilians, like Trinis, are a happy bunch.   

 

riocarnival2

Carnival in Brazil is rich in culture, tradition, music and colour. Recife has the world famous ‘Galo da Madrugada’, where over a million people crowd the street dressed in costumes from bikinis to spider-man pyjamas. Bahia has religious festivals like Candomblé and martial arts like capoeira mixed in with their festivities to make this carnival incredibly diverse. 

Then there is Rio, or as the Brazilians pronounce it ‘Hio’. Rio has the lavish swanky carnival, where the professional samba dancers do their thing to a mix of local music.  Samba in itself is a mixture of African, European and Cuban beats, hugely influenced by the African slaves, who were brought to the states of Bahia and Rio and ended up living in the favelas (slums) of the ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’.  

So why give all this up? I mean Trinidad Carnival not going anywhere, so why not take this opportunity to revel in a different culture that I am coming to love? Oh… and gape too! 

Well, Rio has been going through a lot over the last few months. Three months ago the state government decided that they had enough of being embarrassed by drug pushers, thieves, and murderers, who have been running amuck for quite some while. They went on an all-out offensive, storming some of the most notorious favelas with a zero tolerance policy. They made no joke. 

The aftermath is a city recovering from car and bus bombings, arson attacks, and a city with police and military force that will not hesitate to ‘put two’ in anyone they catch on the wrong side of the law. Oh, not to mention a population living in fear. The state of Rio de Janiero also experienced the worst weather-related natural disaster in the country’s history, over Christmas and the New Year, leaving almost 1,000 people dead and thousands more homeless. 

riocarnival3Even if I were to overlook all this and say let me suck it up and experience de people dem culture this year, the economics just don’t make sense. After a bit of research, I found out that a return ticket to Rio from Recife and accommodation is more than the price of a return ticket to Trinidad. Hang on a second… Trinidad is home, I eh paying for no hotel home. Then I think about it some more and realise, I eh know nobody in Rio and don’t know my way around, so let’s throw in another $200US for transport, because I not taking the buses after seeing movies like “City of God” and “Bus 174”. Whilst checking to see how to ‘play mas’ there, I found out that I have to be enrolled in a samba school, so that rules me out of taking part in the ‘Sambadrome’ unfortunately. 

I could still enjoy the street parties, but as we all know from our carnival, the music, vibe, and crew is as important as the scenery.  Don’t get me wrong, my friends here are fun, but I don’t care how much Samba, Frevo, Brega, Bossa nova, Forró, Pagode, Axé and Sertanejo you throw at me, for 2k11, I definitely prefer to be getting on “Wotless”, “Wining to the side”, and possibly taking “Advantage” somewhere in Port of Spain. All this will be done with the knowledge that I will have my ten-strong crew, who without doubt, will be feeling the same way.  Not to mention, there will no doubt be the added excitement of one or two angry Soca artistes who might pull a Ravi B at Soca Monarch this week. 

So, with all this in mind, I think I might give it a year or two, before I rounds up the boys, enrol them in a samba school and make a big lime. As much as I am for cultural diversity, cultural awareness and embracing my new environment, please allow me as I indulge myself by spending my hard-earned money on partying with my friends, roaming around my own ‘cidade maravilhosa’ and enjoying melodious pan, sweet Chutney, Soca, Calypso, and some extra bacchanal too.

 

Check out the rest of this week’s issue (28/2/11; Issue 47):

Look out for a new issue of Outlish.com every Monday!

Cy Padmore is an English Language teacher and foreign language enthusiast. With a business background and a friendly approach he enjoys learning about other cultures and is constantly looking out for new opportunities and experiences.

5 Comments

  1. Mark Morgan

    March 12, 2011 at 10:09 am

    To be honest didn’t rate it, since (and something they do not tell you) about the Sambadromo is that they use the SAME music throughout the whole thing. Also that is is horrendously expensive…we paid $500 USD for supposedly unrestricted view seats in sector 4 and they’d erected a huge screen immediately to the left (where the carnival starts). The screen didn’t even display the carnaval it was just used for advertising!!! Grrrrr Anyway on to the street parties, the largest have upwards of a million people in attendance and they are messy, congested and quite dangerous…not referring to the people just the amount of rubbish (and urine) in the streets…although the next day you’d never know it happened since the cleaning trucks move in as soon as they end.

    As to the people I’ve never had any problems interacting with people all over the world but Brazilians are slightly snobbish abt speaking English (in the same way that Gaddafi is :o) in that they can but choose not to even when confronted with it.

    As to the women, ermm, okay, well my philosophy is simply if the most beautiful woman in the world has a face like a smacked arse then she is in my opinion ugly and that applies to 99% of Rio women. Also unlike in Europe you will rarely find any attractive Brazilian women over the age of 35, or else they are not allowed out in public….lol So if your penchant is for 18-30 then go for it…if you want a long-term relationship with her please make sure you meet her mother first!! :O)

    Toodles

    Mark
    PS: Have been to the Trinny carnival and whilst the dancers are more attractive it is more spontaneous)
    PPS: In Rio why are all the white dancers on the floats and the darker skinned on the ground??
    PPPS: Both of my parents are from South America (indigenous not imported against their wills) an I found that rio is quite rascist…but then it could just be me!!??

  2. Mark Morgan

    March 12, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Apologies, 1st PS of the last post was supposed to read:

    Have also been to the Trinny carnival and whilst the dancers are less attractive than those in Rio it is a far more spontaneous affair.

  3. Trinizilian

    March 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    I realise that I’m a little late here but I must say thanks for posting this up here. I am a Trini also living the dream here in Brasil!! I’ve lived here for the past nine months I agree wholeheartedly with everything you wrote. It’s pretty rare that a Trini will visit Brasil and even more rare to find one who has lived and experienced this country in its entirety.

    Trini Carnival and Carnaval Brasiliero are apples and oranges.They can both be enjoyed by revellers from each nationality but there are too many differences,culturally speaking, to make an effective comparison. I’ve met a carioca who experienced Trini Carnival who said ” it was the best thing on earth” and my Trini brother says Trini Carnival pales in comparison to Carnaval in Salvador (although, the apples and oranges come into play again).

    Once again, great post.Thanks again.

  4. Trinizilian

    March 3, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Just read the commentor’s post below and must disagree on a couple things:

    1. When non-anglophone visitors come to Trinidad,we don’t go out of our way to speak their native language,now do we? Just because English is the contemporary ‘lingua franca’, don’t be so arrogant as to expect you’ll arrive in a Lusophone country and expect that they’ll speak English, even if some of them can. When the locals realise that you are a foreigner who is learning portuguese, they become very appreciative and patient.You’re just lazy about learning to speak Portuguese.

    2. Beauty is subjective. That being said, IMO Brasil (and the rest of South America by extension) has the most beautiful women on the face of this earth.There is a diverse racial mix across the country, north to south/east to west.There’s a heavy native-indian/Caucasian mix to the north, African/Indo mix in the interior, Afro-Caucasian mix along the NE coast and a heavy Euro influence in the southern states. Brasilian women don’t just come from Rio. IMO, apart from Eastern European/Slavic nations, Europe has some of the flatest/ugliest women with the UK topping that list.

    3. Cariocas are NOT snobby.They are quite pleasant,outgoing and pleasant infact. Rich and caucasian cariocas, however, walk with their nose skyward.

    Rio Carnaval is quite different and to be honest, not my thing. However, Carnaval in Salvador is definitely my thing and much more closely aligned to that of Trinidad where spontanaeity is concerned.

    Brasil…o melhor pais do mundo!!!!

  5. Pingback: Carnivals…around the World. | ashleyram

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