I failed to mention several things on my last post that happened after I arrived in Rio, because most of it occurred past midnight technically making it the next day. It was about 11:30PM when my plane finally landed and it was also pouring rain. My heart sank, as bad weather does not a happy New Year’s Eve celebration on the beach make. Though before I stepped foot in Brasil I promised myself a stress-free trip. Whatever was to happen, would happen, and I was to just go with the flow. So, now this was my first test. I took a couple of deep breaths and a smile returned to my face — I was in Rio!
I hopped inside a taxi and it was past 12AM by the time I arrived at my pousada, or bed & breakfast. The co-owners of Casa 32, Joana and Lucio (a daughter and father), greeted me with hugs and kisses and within minutes I felt like I was part of their family. They showed me around the grounds and asked me about my plans for New Year’s Eve, since the weather forecast was rain for another couple of days. I told them that I was supposed to be celebrating with friends on the beach, but that I was not sure what would happen if the rain kept up. They told me that it had not rained on New Year’s Eve in about a century and that the mayor had spent quite a bit of money hiring of a famous spiritual guide who claimed that she could pray away the rain. We all had a nervous little laugh about this.
I had been very tired on the airplane, however I experienced a burst of energy and did not want to go to sleep yet. I called to my friend, one of the organizers of the Couchsurfing Pan-American event. Thankfully, he was still awake, as it was now around 1AM, and we went out for some late night drinks and conversation that lasted until about 6AM in the morning!
When I awoke around 2PM the next day (this day), it was still raining. I spent most of the day getting to know my pousada’s owners better and catching up on e-mail. I am not going to lie and say that I was not concerned about the rain, since my entire trip was planned around this night, but this was one time where I was absolutely powerless when it came to the situation and I refused to let it ruin my trip. Around 6PM I was just about to call to my friends and see what the new plans were, when magically not only did the rain stop, but the intense humidity disappeared as well, making it one spectacular evening. What an incredible turn of events! I quickly ran to my room to get ready for the huge celebrations that were going to be taking place soon. I donned my white dress, since wearing white on New Year’s Eve is a tradition in Brasil for good luck.
The plan was to first meet up with the Couchsurfers and then I would find my other friends. I had specific directions, except the moment I arrived at Copacabana Beach, I was greeted with this scene:
I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of people I saw, but within moments the incredible energy of the city and the thee million person crowd infected me, and I was on such a high! I felt blessed to be experiencing this and I gave a quick thanks to the Universe (and the spiritual guide who prayed away the rain) for making it happen. I walked along the promenade for about twenty minutes before finding the post that I was told the Couchsurfing tents would be in front of.
I am certain that most of my readers have heard about Couchsurfing, thus I will not go into great detail about the amazing site. I will say, however that Couchsurfers are amongst some of the greatest people in the world that you will ever encounter. Almost instantly after finding the tents, I had made countless new friends from various countries. I enjoyed their company so much so that I decided to not leave and look for my non-Couchsurfing friends. I called them and told them that we could meet the next night.
I was lucky to meet Thyago, a Brasilian Couchsurfer, within an hour of arriving. We had an instant connection and he kept me company for the rest of the evening.
About five minutes before midnight, we all headed down to the water to get ready for the fireworks. Another Brasilian New Year’s Eve tradition for good luck is to jump seven waves, thus people started to undress in order to get into the ocean. Since I was wearing white, I chose to jump the waves that came in on the sand in order to avoid my dress becoming see-through (along with most of the other girls). At midnight, the fireworks exploded in the sky and it was pure magic For almost thirty minutes the sky was alight with color and sound. What an extraordinary way to begin a new year!
After the show ended, Thyago and I walked about a quarter of a mile to see a famous Brasilian band perform. I wish that I could remember their name, because I really liked them and would have loved to have been able to purchase their CD.
The night/day ended at sunrise. To say that I will always remember this experience is simply an understatement. I hope with all of my heart that I am able to return to Rio again soon for another New Year’s Eve. I cannot imagine a better city to celebrate it in!