Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Gato. Meow. Pato. Quack."

Preparations for Carnaval are well underway! Last night the librarian, who is also named Mónica, took us to a samba festival. We all thought that we would be sitting down watching a samba competition, but it was more like a fair or festival. We didn't actually see samba dancers until we left, so maybe things just hadn't picked up yet.

The festival was at the place where they build the floats for Carnaval. There are 14 major samba schools who participate in Carnaval and each make seven floats for the parades. Seriously, the work that goes into these floats is ridiculous. They work year-round on the floats and people are able to see the progession, but then a week before Carnaval the windows are all covered so that the finishing and most extravagent touches can be completed in secret, not to be revealed until the Carnaval parade.
Part of the winning float from last year.
We were able to see a lot of the floats and take pictures with pieces of some of the floats from last year. We also rode on a trolley that was driving back and forth at the festival. The trolley was an old Carnaval float from the 1950's or 60's. It's amazing to see how much they have changed since then!

Hanging out on the old-fashioned Carnaval float.

Us with the trolley driver.
 The festival took place in downtown Rio, so the school driver, Elias, took us there and then we caught a taxi home. Elias speaks very little English, but is such an awesome person-- we all love him. On the way there we we having him help us pronounce different words in Portuguese, mainly types of fruit. Pineapple is spelled abacaxi and pronounced ah-bah-kash-ee. Claire was just sitting in the front seat saying "ABAAAcaxi. AbaCAXi. Abacaxiiii." Elias couldn't stop laughing and we finally realized how strange it must sound to have her sitting in the front seat saying "Pineapple, pineapple, pineapple" over and over again. When we got into downtown Rio we passed a park or something that had ducks and cats on the inside of the fence. I meowed and Elias goes "gato", then he pointed to a duck and said "pato". There was some giant hampster/ miniature cappybara thing also inside the fence called a 'cochilla' (which is not the correct spelling). We were trying to ask what noise a cochilla makes and couldn't really get our point across. Amanda finally goes "Gato-- meow. Pato-- quack. Cochilla..?" And then we find out that the cochilla doesn't make a noise. But I was pretty much crying in the backseat because I thought it was so funny. See? Despite the language barrier we can still communicate with others. They probably think we have really low IQs, but we can still communicate.

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