On Monday, my roommate, Maíra, messaged me and said, “Marco! You have to get costumes for Carnival!.” She told me where I could find them, too: go to the Saara area of the Centro neighborhood; the streets there are filled with stores selling all things Carnival.
I spent most of my time walking down Senhor dos Passos, Alfandega, and the surrounding side streets. Unlike Ipanema, Centro is old and gritty. Its cobblestone streets are narrow and bustling. Maíra cautioned me to watch my phone and my wallet.
As I browsed the stores, I noticed that most of them sell similar things. There’s a lot of flower necklaces and headbands, colorful skirts and ballet tutus, masks, funny hats, shiny beads, and sparkles. It occurred to me that, outside of the the formal show at the Sambadrome, Carnival is basically like Halloween in NYC, but it goes for five days, the street drinking is legal, and there’s samba music.
It took me less than an hour to pick out four costumes: Superman (kid’s size costume + red sunga), Pirate (pirate hat + black and white striped skirt that I’ll turn into shorts), Tarzan (leopard print skirt), Hula Dancer (grass skirt, flower necklace and headband). Only one of these costumes requires me to wear a shirt.
Carnival officially starts on Friday, February 5th, and goes until Wednesday, February 10th, but I should be going to my first bloquinho tonight, in Lapa. Maíra said we should go to as many as we can, and she has a list of the best ones. I can’t wait!