Rio De Janeiro

The Rio de Janeiro carnival is a very popular one held before the Lent in Brazil in a city called Rio also known as “Cidade Maravilhosa” (The Marvellous City) to Brazilians. It attracts tourist and participants from around the world. The number of tourist in attendance each year has been estimated to 500,000. It starts on Friday and ends on a Tuesday before Ash Wednesday

The events of the carnival surges from the soul of the Brazilians as it an essential part of their cultural heritage and history

This carnival sums up the Brazilian culture, the music, dance, religion and food. It starts with the crowning of the Fat King (King Momo) and his duty is to lead the people to have a merry carnival. Then the carnival events are held everywhere in the city, during these days the city is shut down as every street, squares, bar clubs in the city reverberates with drums, singing and dancing. Parades featuring elaborate floats flanked by thousands of drummers and twirling dancers culminate the festivities.

The Samba parade is an essential and captivating part of the carnival. It showcases colourful and creative costumes ranging from the intricately designed to the completely outlandish and dance competitions between the Rio Samba Schools an event that has made the Rio Carnival famous.

While the origin of carnival trace back to the ancient Romans and Greeks, carnivals in Brazil have been highly influenced by the African culture. The celebration was first brought to Rio in 1850 and was a show for the city’s bourgeoisie. The carnival as we know it today started in the mid-20th century, results from the influence of the Africans slaves who were brought into the country over a period of 300 years. After the abolition of the slave trade in Brazil in 1888, the rituals of the Catholic former colonialist and their former slave merged to form the origins of the modern carnival.

The  poor people from the slums who reside in a place called ‘Little Africa’ are called the favelas and are the ones who ‘make’ the carnival. These are the pepole you should be on the look out for if you are thinking of attending.

The streets of Rio used to be the venue for the carnival. The hedonistic city bursting with colour and radiance from the sun is hugged by rainforest clad cliffs and the sea and its prehistoric magnificence give the city its splendour but as the celebration became more popular so much so it has been named the largest party in the world, a stadium called the Sambodromo has been built to accommodate the large number of participants and spectators it attracts.  It is the biggest carnival in the world, has earned a Guinness Wold Record and also a yardstick to which other carnivals are measured.

The word carnival originally originates from the Latin word Carne Valle meaning “goodbye to meat” It was used to mark the last day of lent where people celebrate by having  street feast for the days they had stayed away from meat, fasting. It is quite different now!

And as the Rio Carnival official websites enjoins “Go for the experience of a life-time! See, breathe, sense and live with us carnival”.

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SPAIN

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I went to Spain with friends in June this year and I must say I had a wonderful experience!!! The weather was great all through the summer period, people were friendly and helpful and the night life was superb! I was amazed when I saw elderly people out with their partners enjoying the night life.

Catalonia where I stayed has a beach with nearly white sand and a clear blue sea. Something else that really baffled me was that people didn’t mind stripping naked at the beach! Such an act would have caused a stir in England if not a harassment sue. Mothers, fathers and kids stripped down naked in a public beach and lay on their backs basking in the sun! My mouth was hanging wide open and I almost bursted out laughing.

Spain is a country situated in South Western Europe and bordered by the Mediterranean Sea. Madrid is its largest city and capital next to Barcelona.

Spaniards are culturally oriented people, 75% of them are Roman Catholics and the official language is Spanish. Music, dance and festivals are an essential part of their culture. The six string guitar was invented in Spain in the 1750s but was doubled stringed at the time like today’s 12 strings guitars. It was gradually modified to its modern shape over the years. Something else Spanish people are enthusiastic about is football. Real Madrid and Barcelona ranks second and third on the list of most valuable clubs compiled by Forbes and Spain is the first on FIFA list of World Ranking.

Another popular sport in Spain is bullfighting. It has been an integral part of their tradition for years.  Bulls are released into a ring with matadors (bullfighters) and are taunted and provoked to fight till they are weak and then killed with the thrust of a sword. This ‘blood sport’ though a source of entertainment and tourist attraction for years has been criticized by animal lovers as brutality to animals.

Spain is the fourth most visited country in the world, 56.7 million people visited in 2011. I will definitely revisit and if you haven’t been there, consider it.

Gracias!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbes’_list_of_the_most_valuable_football_clubs

http://www.fifa.com/worldranking/rankingtable/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Tourism_rankings

LEAVING HOME

I had read stories about London long before imagining myself visiting, let alone studying in London.  My earliest encounter with “fictional London” was in the book Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, and later on other novels, films and accounts from relatives and friends who were either living in England or happened to have visited.

My mum had said to me upon coming back from holiday in London, “the streets are so clean and everything is orderly” and my dad said “it’s horribly cold! Not going back there”. When I checked this with my brother he said, “the streets are not as clean as she has led you to believe. Almost everywhere is littered with filthy pigeons’ dropping, and the cost of living is unbelievable!” I was more inclined to believe my brother, as he came to London at quite a young age, had adopted a British accent, and lived in London consistently for a long period of time. But still, I couldn’t bring myself to believe that the London of my dreams, where international celebrities live and where the BRITs awards are held could be that mundane. I couldn’t wait to see for myself.

When I stepped out of the airport, I was expecting squeaky-clean streets, to which I was let down. But London was also not as ordinary as my brother had led me to believe either, I must add. My take on London at first was two-fold; the vast difference in architecture, and the alienated and self occupied ambience almost everyone participated in. I was hit with the overwhelming impression that everyone was in a rush and trying their best to ignore the existence of others, which is totally opposite to the way people communicate in my hometown.

Everyone there knows and speaks to everyone else. It is even considered a great grievance if a neighbour walks by without saying “hello” and being in a hurry is also seen as a very rude thing. There is a saying in my country that goes; “though a mother gives birth to a child, it takes a community to raise the child”.  I recall that as a child, news about my wrongdoings while away from home always got home faster than I did! So, after spending a couple of months in London, I learned not to be offended when my neighbour walked past without a “hello”, and though at first I thought it unruly and embarrassing to run after a bus, I learned pretty fast that it was just the way of things, and sometimes very necessary!

Also, as it was my first trip outside of my country and continent, I wasn’t prepared for the blow of the reputation it has garnered in the foreign world. Far be it from me to say that Africa is perfect, but I wasn’t prepared for the level of extreme poverty and fraud that it, especially Nigeria, is known for. It has led me to believe that either I have been living in a bubble all my life, or these views have been exaggerated.

London is a fast-paced community of individualised people. It is a diverse city that provides a great deal of opportunities on an international scale. My favourite thing about London is that it houses every race, colour, ethnicity and religion in the world. It is very different from my hometown.