Staying in on New Years Eve in is incredibly rare in Brazil. Not only is every holiday or non-holiday reason to party but New Years is the celebration of celebrations next to carnival. At 7pm we went out in search of pizza and there wasn’t a soul to be found, much less any pizza with a soul. Storefronts chained and bare, we could have laid down in the middle of the street for we were lucky to locate another human nearby. I might have spotted tumbleweed rolling in the distance like some John Wayne movie. It was eerie and beyond extraordinary in a city of such size. The ONLY noise to signal this holiday was a concert of neighboring households practicing their firework shows and a cacophony of dogs responding in distress.
We moved into our apartment yesterday, a mighty feat worthy of pizza and champagne. The plan was always to stay in, hang out on our new balcony and watch the sunset, the most inactive NYE to date. Alex was sick with what appeared to be a nasty flu so we quietly listened to the choir from the church across the street, eating cereal, (several attempts for pizza delivery including dominos were unanswered) I with the champagne all to myself. I caught the occasional white ghost streaming by on the avenue late to a party, as it is customary for all Brazilians to wear white on Reveillon (New Years Eve). Out of the 18 million people here I felt like 17 million of them were at the beach jumping waves. Not only do you wear white, but also you are to jump 7 waves at midnight, light candles in the sand and offer flowers to the sea to bring good luck for the subsequent year. I am sure it is a beautiful sight and right when I was wondering if we shouldn't have made coastal plans... it all began.
The firework show(s) started around 11pm and the city became apparent through a lens of color and light and all those people I thought had fled for the ocean clearly had only been hiding. The rooftops were packed and the music from parties around the city turned up their volume and multiple melodies drifted in the air. I have seen fireworks on islands, the grandest of shows in NY, Boston and D.C but I have never seen a sight like this before. We had the perfect vantage point, an almost 270 degree panorama of virtually every neighborhood in the city. From as far as the eye could witness, organized shows blasted on the horizon simultaneously with smaller household shows from as close as across the street. I tried counting at one point but there must have been over 200 different shows, probably more. It was strangely like what Baghdad must have been like post 9-11 or as if lightening was striking a million locations at once. The light pollution and haze from a cloudy day made it difficult for my camera to focus so I quit trying to capture it tangibly and let my mind take it all in as one of the best memories I will ever have in this city, this I know. From the penthouses to the flavelas it was a democratic spectacle for all to enjoy.
2010 was the year of “transitions;” Alex graduated business school, I left my job, we got married, said goodbye 5 times to family and friends as we waited and finally finally became expats. The word for 2011 will be “acclimation,” as we are finally settled, bringing in the New Year with an address in a city full of wonder and uncertainty.
progression of the evening....
plane in the sky getting ready to land at congonhas
panorama of our breathtaking view
Youtube videos I took of the firework explosion....