Workationing During Carnival In Rio de Janeiro

This was not your average workation. You may have already been introduced to the concept of workation from my time spent getting to know babes and babushkas and working at the beach while in Odessa, Ukraine. The concept is simple: work + vacation = workation. For that matter, my life is pretty much a never-ending workation. But along the way I like to organize workations for like-minded people to join in the fun and develop working relations.

But doing it during Carnival in Rio is taking workationing to another level. Some pertinent questions arise: Will anyone get any work done? Will anyone get robbed? Will anyone not get robbed? Will I finally manage to squeeze in a paragliding flight over Copacabana? Will we get stuck in a favela (Brazilian slum), and if so, will we make it out alive?

Home is where the hammock is

Every workation needs a home, and this home was one of the best (even better than that Cape Town villa). On the north side of Rio in the Santa Teresa neighborhood, my fellow workationers and I settled into a villa on a hilltop with stunning views down on the famous Maracana Stadium, as well as the favelas of Rio. This was an impressive house in a historic area of Rio. There was good security, plenty of police patrolling in the area and a rather quick trip down the narrow, winding streets would put us on Santa Teresa Street.

Our villa

Our view of Northern Rio and Maracana Stadium

On the roof of the home lived a cook and her husband, the house manager. But we basically had the whole villa to ourselves. Everyone had a nice room. I felt like a king when I would wake up in the morning in my colorful, chandelier-clad bedroom. There was also a pool, and better yet, a hammock with great views. What more could you ask for??

Can’t you see how hard I’m working?

Believe it or not, we did actually get some work done. It wasn’t so much work as it was networking and knowledge sharing, which is actually more valuable. Participants would give presentations on their area of expertise or investment focus.

Presentation on real estate strategy – working hard!

Additionally, our villa host was this nice French guy. But, for the first few days, we really had no idea who he was. We would soon find out…

Carnivaling

Of course, we didn’t come to Rio during Carnival to stay in the house. We hit the street parties, enjoying everything from the blocos (bands) to the “Bitch Coin” girls. You may recall Bitcoin was on a bull run in the months prior to this Carnaval (early 2018).

The beaches 😉

On one day I conducted a social experiment. No, I didn’t buy some Bitch Coin. 😉

The Bloco on Santa Teresa Street during Carnival

The street parties at Carnaval are notorious for having smartphone thieves. If you go in costume and bring your phone with, you are pretty much asking for it to get stolen.

I headed down to the street parties in a bathrobe. Actually, I was wearing two bathrobes… one for each Bitch Coin I bought… kidding. I put my phone and other belongings in the first bathrobe and wore the second robe on top. The experiment was a success. I got in and out of the street parties without getting anything stolen.

I wasn’t alone. Over the course of the week, no one in our workation group got anything stolen during the street parties. But would we be so lucky if we were to venture into a favela??

The parties after sundown were more exciting. In the evenings we would go to venues in the center of Rio, particularly in Lapa, an area famous for its nightlife. We would also go to a cocktail bar in Santa Teresa.

Nights in Lapa

On one night we went to the Rio Sambadrome, the place renowned for hosting Carnival parades. There was lots of pomp and circumstance, and the parade included a flying cars float that I interpreted as mocking Elon Musk. But frankly, the Sambadrome disappointed. The atmosphere wasn’t even as good as the Sambadrome in Encarnacion, Paraguay. I was there just before coming to Brazil.

The scene at the Sambadrome… so-so

The street parties were more fun, as was villa hopping…

At one point, we happened to meet a guy staying in a villa close by to us. And on the second to last evening of the workation, we were invited to a party at this villa. The villa was huge, it was lit up and it was an excellent party location. We had a good time, especially with the girls there.

Carnival party house

The following night, things were different. We were invited to another party at the villa. When we arrived, we found out it was canceled. The host decided to do a more private party with just a few people. We couldn’t get in. It was raining outside.

For 15 minutes we stood around, waiting for a taxi to arrive. We were standing on a street notorious for robberies. Our nerves spiked as bikers passed by.

The favela drive

But our crazy taxi ride was even scarier. Our driver decided to take a shortcut in going from Santa Teresa to our destination. He went right through a dangerous favela. And he was driving us through the favela with the windows rolled down. Then we saw men with machine guns on a motorcycle right behind us.

We got spooked and told the driver to roll up the windows. That got us a talking to.

The taxi driver said he had to follow the laws… of the favela. If you drive with the windows up, you would immediately get shot, then gunmen would come in the car and rob you, our driver said.

Oh, that made us feel so at ease… 😂

But our cab driver went on to tell us that, when the windows are rolled down, the people in the favela can see that you are not a threat. Then you can pass through safely.

Our nerves calmed a bit. We made it out alive and still in possession of all of our belongings.

Actually, there was a bit more to the story. It wasn’t a taxi ride. It was an Uber. It turns out these armed motorcyclists escort Ubers through the favela, allowing them to make use of the shortcut. Uber appears to be paying some protection money, at least according to the findings of our reconnaissance work. 😉

The mystery host

So, you now know we survived the favela. But you may still be curious about this villa host of ours. When we would see him in the villa, he would be with four or five pretty good looking guys — hanging out with them and having a good time.

This made sense about 4 or 5 days into our stay when Facebook suggested that I add him as a friend. We took a look at his profile and were shocked to see him on a boat totally naked. We then understood what all those guys were doing surrounding him in the house. Our host was gay, and he was having a good time. To each their own. 😊

Sightseeing

You may also be curious as to whether or not I went on a paragliding adventure. I will get to that.

Over the course of the week, we didn’t just party and pay lip service to working. We also played the part of typical tourists in Rio. We went to the famous Copacabana beach area. I always like what I see there. 😉 Nearby Ipanema Beach is also a fun spot.

Enjoying Copacabana 😊

We went up to the infamous Christ the Redeemer statue that stands above the city. We also went up the steep Sugarloaf Mountain.

Statuesque

Rio below from Christ the Redeemer

In previous years, I had tried to arrange paragliding trips in Rio. It never worked out due to the weather. Finally, though, I lucked out. Taking a break from the Carnival workation, I flew freely above Rio, blessed with beautiful views of the sea and mountains, as well as popular tourist areas. The experience was fantastic.

 

All in all, workationing during Carnival in Rio really worked out. The next time you want to get some work done, you should consider booking a villa with some friends in the Carnival capital of the world in the middle of the festival. If you’re lucky, all your hard work might earn you some BitXXCoin. 😉

P.S. Following Carnival in Rio, I headed straight to dangerous Anarchapulco, Mexico.