It’s Carnaval! Let’s party!

But first, we have to find a way through Brazil’s labyrinthian purchasing process.

We’re planning to go on Sunday night, the Night of Champions, with five other couples. We’re buying three tables, which will give us balcony seats, access to drinks, and bathrooms! Sounds like a great deal.

But so far, we’ve had no luck paying for the danged seats! With a friend’s help (he speaks excellent Portuguese and understands the twisted financial meanderings in Brazil), Tom made the reservations on Friday. The reservations were verified and he received a reçibo or receipt for the reservation.

He was to take the reçibo to the bank and make a payment, but we were awaiting final word on the guest count, so he went in on Monday to pay. Nope. The reçibo was ONLY good on Friday. He still (apparently) has the reservation, but needs a new reçibo to make the payment. Because he didn’t hear back in a timely manner (read: at all) yesterday, and the banks close at 4 pm, he’s trying again today.

Turns out that now, for some reason, he must drive to the SamboDromo (site of the parade) to buy the tables, which might or might not still be reserved for us. He won’t find out until he gets there. That means driving across town (no small endeavor during the week), finding the caixa (ticket booth), and making the payment for all 12 people (which means carrying the cash for payment, since they won’t accept credit card payment).

We won’t know until silver crosses palms whether or not we have the tickets.

Now, this isn’t an isolated rant from a spoiled American. It’s a rant about how frickin’ difficult ANY transaction is in Brazil, where you have to make payments IN PERSON at a bank with cash when you want to pay a bill, book a hotel, pay for a plane ticket, or buy tickets to a theater or event. I know it doesn’t sound bad, but we’re talking half a day to run this sort of errand, given traffic and some unexpected, but guaranteed to happen, complication.  (UPDATE: it is now pouring rain, which means traffic squeals to a stop. Streets already awash and unpassable. Yay.)

Sure as shootin’, he’s going to get there and be told there is a change in price, or they no longer have the tables, or something. If it were just us, I wouldn’t mind, but there are 10 other people planning their Carnaval festivities around this.

Brazil, please join the 21st Century! Given how dangerous it is to do banking in person (with bandits in the bank telephoning bandits outside the bank, telling them who and what to look for), and transportation difficulties, why on earth do you still demand payment in cash in person?!

(God help those people who have purchased World Cup tickets! Apparently, you have to go in person to pick them up, and show ID both when you pick them up and at the venue. Like THAT’S not going to cause a ruckus!)

So, we might or might not get to see Carnaval this year. If we do, it should be spectacular. If we don’t, I’ll survive.

UPDATE: We got the tickets! Stay tuned for photos of Carnaval Parade 2014 from Sunday, March 2, the Parade of Champions!