Not that it isn’t fun.
It is. But Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is, as most people know, a frenetic, energy-packed event.
There are literary tens of thousands of performers in the fourteen samba schools of the first category.
And the city is blessed with hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to share in the fun. Some nine hundred thousand at this year’s count.
All that dancing and singing is hard work – and arouses a mighty thirst on the part of participants and spectators alike. Some few drink water. But this is Carnival in Rio we’re talking about, the biggest party on the face of the earth. And what's a party without booze? So most opt for stronger stuff.
You can’t drink cachaça, vodka, or whisky, for five days and nights running – not it you hope to survive until Ash Wednesday.
So the drink of choice is beer. And beer, as everyone knows, has a way of making its way quickly from the mouth to the bladder, thereby creating a problem that’s getting worse from year-to-year, and one that the city fathers are struggling mightily to solve.
The wealthier classes, as is usually the case in Brazil, are privileged. If they come to see the samba schools perform, they generally do it from one of the expensive mesas da pista, tables in enclosed areas right next to the action where there is excellent service and where there are many facilities for the deposit of used beer, both receptacles it originally came in and the liquid that resulted from the drinking of it.
Or they watch from one of the camarotes, boxes generally hired by corporations for the use of their senior executives and clients and amply serviced in the same regard.
But the great mass of people bring their own beer, or buy it from vendors who move through the stands selling cans of the stuff. And, for toilets, they depend on the public facilities.
The discarded cans aren’t as much of a problem as you might think. They’re quickly carried away by informal recyclers, who collect them and deliver them to compacting facilities. It’s a quick way for them to earn a Real or two, because, this year, those cans added up to a total weight of more than six hundred tons…
…more than half the weight of Rio’s famous statue of Christ the Redeemer.
The Big Problem is the chemical toilets. There were more, this year, than ever before, but there still weren't enough of them.
Result: a total of eight hundred and eight people were arrested on a charge of urinating in public. The total includes sixty-seven women. And those numbers reflect only the very few who were actually caught doing it.
The stench, in the area of the parades, persists for days thereafter and long-term residents of the area are not pleased.
A word of advice: if you plan on attending Carnival in Rio, make sure you reserve one of those mesas da pista.
Leighton - Monday