We spend a lot of our time in and around Rio das Ostras in Rio de Janeiro state. It’s a beautiful place with fourteen beaches and misty mountains in the distance. It’s easy to see why it’s a tourist destination, catering mostly to Brazilians from other parts of the country.
Most people know all about the over-the-top celebrations of Carnaval in the Sambadrome of Rio de Janeiro, but aren’t so familiar with the Carnaval happenings of the smaller cities. Rio das Ostras, with it’s population of about 200,000 people has quite a schedule of fun going on every year.
During Carnaval the population of the city more than doubles. The beaches in the center are packed with people who come to enjoy the scenery, the music, the food and the fun.
There are jet skis to rent, banana boats to ride and boat tours to take. There is also a never ending supply of ice cold beer, soda or coconut water, and food made fresh from the kiosks and street vendors.
There are music concerts every night in several locations all over town. There are matinee shows for the children with more music and costumed dancers. And there are the blocos.
Don’t know what a bloco is? It’s a sort of rolling party with loud music blasting from massive speakers atop a big truck. You’ll see singers and dancers up there also, and the street surrounding the truck is full of even more dancers and musicians.
That guy singing just to the left of the flag? That’s a friend of ours. The blocos are organized by groups of friends, neighbors, church groups or other organizations. You never know who’s going to be a part of it. The next one might have your dentist, your teacher or your dog groomer dressed in something that barely covers a few inches of skin and shaking it like there’s no tomorrow.
It feels like the whole town comes out to dance when the blocos go by. During the four days of Carnaval (Saturday through Tuesday) The blocos go through at a rate of about one every two hours. Each ones slowly makes its way along the beach front and plays for nearly forty five minutes, trailing crowds, music beats and confetti in it’s wake.
The noise is nearly deafening. Brian and I had to shout right in each other’s ear to be heard, and even then couldn’t hear anything but the band. We resorted to sign language.
Everyone participates. The children have as much fun as the adults. We saw two year olds on their parents’ shoulders bouncing and dancing as the bloco went by. We saw couples clearly into their eighties dancing along behind the truck.
Some drinking, some not, some sunburned and no one judging anybody else. I love the feeling of fun and total acceptance happening with the crowd. Everyone is encouraging everyone else, thumbs up, laughter and “Opa!” flying around, neighbor to neighbor.
And when it’s done and the bloco has moved on everyone heads back to their spot on the beach to wait for the next one.
We only spent one of the four days here in town, but I’m so glad we got to experience the blocos like we did. This mini-version of the Carnaval madness that goes on in Rio was just the right amount of festival for us.
On the map: Click here to see this location on our Google Map.