THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Fantasy hiding a dirty reality

BRAZIL: Rio’s Sambodromo parades are a fantasy of beautiful bodies and dreamlike costumes but the self-declared greatest show on Earth is prepared in a dirty street next to an open sewer.

cultureenvironmentpollutionpolitics
By AFP

Sunday 12 March 2017, 05:00PM


Revellers of the Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel samba school wait at a stand-by area before performing on the second night of Rio’s Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP

Revellers of the Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel samba school wait at a stand-by area before performing on the second night of Rio’s Carnival at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP

The contrast between what happens inside Rio de Janeiro’s specially built samba stadium and just outside encapsulates the confounding, often tragic contradictions of Brazil.

Inside, watched by 70,000 paying fans, the samba schools marched all night last on Feb 27 into last Feb 28 in a stunning blend of military precision, wild imagination and sexual energy.

Thousands upon thousands of performers turned the runway into a river of sequins, feathers, physics-defying floats, g-strings, and flesh oiled up to shine in the bright lights.

Only minutes before though, these same dancers had been standing around in a filthy, poorly lit stretch of Avenida Presidente Vargas, which runs alongside one of Rio’s many dead waterways, stagnant with raw sewage and other pollution.

“In the Sambodromo, it’s a dream and that’s the whole point,” said Georgina de Oliveira, a 62-year-old maid, as she waited in a long line for a fetid portable toilet on the avenue. “But here we’re in reality. Here it’s not a dream.”

Avenida Presidente Vargas is where each samba school gathers its approximately 3,500 performers before parading. Final assembly is done to floats, costumes are donned, make-up put on and each wing of dancers and drummers marshalled into position.

The avenue is drab and lined with graffiti. An imposing building, once a teaching hospital, sits abandoned and partly gutted, the faded sign at the entrance still reading: “Serving the community”.

During the days of carnival, the street is temporarily transformed, thronged with bizarre costumes, and pulsating with joyful music.

Late on Feb 26, African warriors came running by, a section of men dressed as knives and forks shuffled to the side, and three leggy women fiddled with their tiny, sparkling substitutes for underwear. An enormous man dressed as an emperor of some kind scrolled through his cellphone.

Behind the performers, many of whom sat on the ground alongside their ungainly costumes, waited the crazy floats – a seahorse as big as a bus, a herd of golden camels, an entire Arab palace.

It would have been momentarily easy to forget reality if it hadn’t been for the combined smell of the canal, the portable toilets and gutters filled with urine and beer.

City authorities say that carnival brings about $1 billion in extra revenue to Rio.

New Paths Retreat

That wealth clearly doesn’t go toward facilities for the Sambodromo’s makeshift backstage, let alone installing a sewage system in neighbourhoods around the stadium.

Still, a little wealth trickles down to the poor.

Jonathan Torres Ribeira, who says he’s been collecting aluminium cans from the street since he was a child, does well at parade time.

The revellers litter Avenida Presidente Vargas with beer and Coke cans, so the 23-year-old soon fills a large plastic bag. With 24 hours’ work, he says, he’ll make about 500 reais (B5,612) – 10 times more than he would on a normal day.

The main difficulty? Hauling that bag through all the people dressed as sun gods, vegetables, fish and the like.

“It’s really hard to get through,” he said.

Just on the far bank of the stinking canal, free seats are available for people who want to watch the samba schools set off down the avenue before turning into the Sambodromo.

Elaine Pereira da Costa, 60, shook her head sadly when asked how the same city could feature such splendour and squalor within touching distance of each other.

“The government just wants its money and that’s the end of the story,” she said, echoing most Brazilians’ contempt for their corruption-riddled leaders. “They could see you standing here holding your nose and they wouldn’t care.”

But when the Uniao da Ilha samba school, which had been preparing for hours on Avenida Presidente Vargas, suddenly started moving, da Costa’s expression changed.

“Look how beautiful it is,” she said to her sister-in-law as a legion of people in butterfly costumes set off in perfect synchronisation. “Mother of God, how beautiful it is.”

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Phuket man hunted for stabbing ex to death in jealous rage

...what a weird response ! What do bar closing times have to do with the behavior of a certain group...(Read More)


Finances blamed for Phuket DJ suicide

It is disgusting that one poster uses this article about a suicide committing desperate person for h...(Read More)


Phuket man nabbed with over 52,000 ya bah pills, ya ice

Khun Pascale, ..Uninformed... as you wrote, well, I can't talk about a european country I have n...(Read More)


Phuket man hunted for stabbing ex to death in jealous rage

"maybe those stories are not published in worldwide"Farming News," oh dear, by the wa...(Read More)


Phuket man hunted for stabbing ex to death in jealous rage

@ Pascale. Thai bars on Phuket by law close by 01:00 AM. What are you talking about? Behavior of to...(Read More)


Phuket man hunted for stabbing ex to death in jealous rage

R,maybe those stories are not published in worldwide"Farming News". Of course i could give...(Read More)


Finances blamed for Phuket DJ suicide

RIP Khun Piew. Condolences to family. Seems that Phuket golden tourist years are over. In everything...(Read More)


Phuket man nabbed with over 52,000 ya bah pills, ya ice

K, if you think all would be so easy ,please tell me, how come that a small country like the Netherl...(Read More)


Phuket man hunted for stabbing ex to death in jealous rage

Pascale, the operative word, in my comment, is "seems", which seems to be hard for you to ...(Read More)


Tourists warned of e-cigarette fines

@ Dek, S'pore is further, is 4.0. There is no polluted water , no traffic pollution on the roads...(Read More)