However cheesy Carnival may be, Rio de Janeiro -- mad, magical and mysterious -- allows you to live out, if only for a brief moment, your most far-flung fantasies and dreams.
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If you're looking for a way to get to know real Brazilian culture, Carnival is a fantastic time, with many neighborhoods proudly represented and displaying their very best.
When in Rio, I sought a place where locals go, and for hours swayed to steady drumbeats. You need stamina and rhythm, but it's so dark and so mesmerizing that once I let go a bit, I got swept into it.
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