With carnival just three days away I was looking through the Christian Science Monitor’s archives and came across two stories I wrote for my first ever carnival in Rio, way back in 2000.

The first was a story about a samba school made up of people who met on the then nascent internet and came to Rio to parade together in a school they called Unidos do Mundo. The story, which can be read here in its entirety, starts:

The samba beat at Rio’s famous Carnival will have an international sound to it this year thanks to the Internet.

Poles, Finns, Argentines, and Japanese are to shake their hips in “Unidos do Mundo,” an Internet-based samba school that will become the first-ever international samba group to parade in Rio’s legendary Carnival.

The second piece is a short snippet from the Reporters on the Job spot. The now discontinued spot asked the reporter to say something about the story he or she had worked on.

That year I paraded in carnival for the Vila Isabel school. Here’s a pic of me looking suitably youthful and optimistic. (The fact they got relegated that year was a total coincidence.)

I did most of the planning for it online, including choosing the school and buying the costume. Here’s a bit background to that. Nothing much has changed.

* GOING UNDERCOVER: Reporter Andrew Downie recently moved to Rio and decided he ought to experience Carnival from the inside. First step, pick a samba school to gain entry into the parade. “I chose the Vila Isabel school, checked out the costumes online, and opted to go as a Beija Flor, although I had no idea what that might be. It was a nice color and didn’t look too cumbersome or hot,” says Andrew. After he e-mailed his order, he called a Brazilian friend who laughed, explaining that “I was going as a hummingbird.” A couple of days later, the seamstress phoned to confirm his order and ask for a shoe size. He deposited 250 reales ($141) into her bank account. His costume arrives Saturday. The parade is Sunday night. “Actually, a humming bird might be appropriate – I still don’t know the words of the school song.”