18th Feb 2012.
Last night we went out locally. We had a chicken dinner in a restaurant near the square. Then we walked the local area and joined in with the party. Down to Rio Branco for a local bloco which had us dancing along in the crowd. It was fun and although busy it felt safe.
This morning we had planned to go to Sugar Loaf mountain. It was now 9am and breakfast was over. We walked out into the street and OMG I have never seen so many people. Carnival had started. There were people everywhere and loudspeakers blasting out. We went back inside and dropped off the rucksack as it was in the way. We fought through the crowds to the bus stop but it was hopeless. Vehicles were going nowhere.
Oh well plan B then. Lets go to Rio Branco and watch the procession. This was an official bloco so expectations were high. If you imagine Oxford St absolutely jammed solid with people. No not like the Xmas sales but every inch of available space including the road full of people. The crowd stretched for a mile and another half mile into the side streets. Difficult to put a figure on it but it must have been 100,000.
I can't truly describe it. People, people and more people. They were wandering up and down with no obvious purpose. Street sellers were everywhere, selling cold beer and food. We tried to walk down the road and it was nearly impossible. We found a little bit of space and stopped in the shade. The sun was intense. But what was going to happen? We couldn't see or hear anything.
Further down the road we walked. Fighting through crowds all pushing in different directions. It was chaos. I've been in big crowds at sports events and riots etc but never experienced anything like this.
Eventually we found a spot beneath a camera crews scaffold. A beer seller in front and it was bearable. Then we heard the music. Along came a lorry with a Samba band on the back. Barely moving due to the throng in front of it. Eventually a second then a third. Then that was it.
100,000 people for 3 lorries. Sorry but I just didn't get it. We walked back the way we had come and the crowd swelled and surged. At points I thought if I stumble I'll die. It was impossible to go where you wanted. Hundreds were going to the metro station and we had to go too.
Today has been an experience. Personally I'm a bit disappointed. The parade was disappointing and I don't get why so many people go to one place for that. The whole thing was an uncontrolled crowd and I didn't enjoy it. I had hoped for street bands and maybe fireworks. The reality was thousands of people milling about with hundreds of food stalls and guys selling beers from cool boxes.
Hopefully tomorrow we will get to Sugar Loaf. I guess not everything lives up to the hype and not all experiences are good.
Ps we've just been out for dinner. Still masses of people about. The streets are now ankle deep in rubbish. The restaurant should be a pavement cafe but we were behind a 6ft high wire fence to keep the 'party goers' from us.Police with guns are everywhere. On one hand you feel safe but on the other you think we don't need that for the Brockham bonfire.......why? One lastthing. We have much in common with Johnny Foreigner. We both like a beer and we both like to eat and dance. Difference is he seems to like doing it dressed as a lady !!!!