A cow, a chicken and an Indian….

“Então, enviaremos o dinheiro às escolas de samba”, Red said. 

“Devemos informar nossos tamanhos, tá?”, 

“…tá!”(ok!)I said. 

“Eles te mandam o modelo da fantasia que você vai usar”. 

“..tá!”. I nodded 

“Então vamos pro Rio e pegamos a fantasia lá, entendeu?” 

“Entendi”(I understand). I lied. 

“Encontramos os outros integrantes da escola e saímos para o desfile. Cada escola canta e dança durante uma hora, que vc acha Kaych? Vamos?”. 

“Sim, Red, vamos!” (Yes, let’s go!) 

“Legal Keif!” (Great Keith) 

(Brazilians can’t pronounce the ‘th’ in my name, so it sounds like a ‘F’ when they try to, it gets me alot of mileage) 

Red went to the toilet. 

I asked my wife what just happened. 

“You told him that we’re going to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival”. 


“You agreed to send R$2k to a Samba School in Rio, send your clothes size, this will get you the ticket which will allow you to enter the Samba School”. 

Samba school?” 

“You get the costume, then you dance and sing with 2000 other people for an hour” 

“Jaysus.. he didn’t seem to use so many words” 

Carnival is the biggest party on the planet. It’s a celebration of up and coming Lent. It comes from the word carnelevare which means to “remove meat”. Every province celebrates carnival in their own unique way. In Bahia, you have the huge celebrations in Salvador. In Pernambuco, you have Recife, and Olinda Carnivals. In Minas Gerais, you have the non-stop 4 day parties that take place in the beautiful cities of ‘Ouro Preto’ and ‘Diamantina’. 

I thought Carnival was just St.Patrick’s Day in the sun. I was wrong. 

In Rio, entering one of the Samba Schools in is the thing to do. There are 6 schools each night that parade down the Sambódromo showing off their floats, costumes, dancing, lovely ladies. Even Hollywood stars love the chance to join in and throw their shapes around. This year the Sambódromo was blessed with the presence of Beyoncé Knowles, Alicia Keys, Nicole Scherzinger, Madonna, and Gerard Butler. In fairness, if they’re going, I’m going. 

We didn’t go. My wife said no. Beyonce and her thighs were just going to have to wait another year. And in the end, thank god I didn’t go. Even watching it on TV, I was sweating. At night, it was over 38 oC in Rio, the costumes as fantastic as they are, are extremely elaborate. Imagine an hour of dancing and singing, possibly wearing a dress, with something resembling the Eiffel Tower strapped to your head, and no beer. Arse! I was going to go to anything like that. 

Sure why would you want to leave good auld Belo Horizonte anyway? Here we don’t spend stupid amounts on money on Samba competitions. We like to go back to where it all began, we like to go back to the roots of Carnival, we go back to the blocos. Groups of people from the same ‘block’ of apartments who get together, give themselves a silly name, dress up, play instruments, sing samba songs and dance. There are no prizes, no competitions, no Beyoncé and her bits. It’s a free wandering street party! 

Each block invents a name and a logo, and people dress-up according to this name. This particular bloco’s logo was a cow, and written below the name, “Mamá na Vaca”. I tried to work out the meaning for myself. I knew Vaca meant cow. And “mamá”? Well I assumed the obvious. So maybe it’s Mammy on the cow, or Mammy under the cow, or Mammy is a cow. Maybe this bloco were having issues with their mums. More probable was they were honouring the cow. Ranveer is from India, and I thought maybe this was his idea. I gave up and asked my buddy Adriano who said it means Suckle the cow. Mama is a verb, it means to suckle. So, I wasn’t far off. 

“The cow refers to life’”, he continued. “The fatter the better, meaning more for everyone, but you should start sucking on those titties asap if you want to get some of what she has to offer. “Mamá na Vaca.”” 

It was never-ending. Instruments never stopped, the singing never wavered, the dancing never lost its footing. I and Ranveer attempted to mingle, we mouthed the words like we knew the songs and drank the way Brazilians do, but I think our gringo-like dancing gave us away and Ranveer’s skin colour didn’t help either. But even still, we were treated like locals. It was a great fun. 

Many people talking about coming to Brazil for Carnival. You should come. You are promised experiences like you’ve never had in your life. Carnival is a show, a spectacle. But there is a lot more to Brazil. Come. But then stay a while after. You will be greeted with open arms, a warm smile, and a little bit of samba. 



2 Responses to “A cow, a chicken and an Indian….”
  1. says:

    ‘Mammy is a cow..with guaranteed white teeth!´ hahahahahahah …this blog just gets better and better!

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