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Just Like the River I must be vain.To see something no one has must not be possible, unless you change you're perspective...

Reveillon or... things to do in Rio when you´re sober

BRAZIL | Sunday, 16 January 2011 | Views [779]

So I´m not sure about you, but I definitely saw New Year's Eve (Reveillon, as they call it in Brazil) as a time to get dressed up, get wasted, and get to making your first bad decisions of the new year. Every year the very congenial Cariocas make room for some two million tourists, misconceptions and all, to come dance, drink, and pass out all over their beaches. While those blatantly shallow visitors who come looking for drinks and debauchery will find it, travelers looking for a deeper understanding of the culture of one of Brazil´s favorite seasons await a whole different side of the so-called party capital (I may be the only one who calls it that, but it still counts). I had hoped so, and so, besides an early shot of cachaça and a sip of cerveja, I approached the holiday with sobriety of mind, body, and spirit. (It also helped that my friend Justin from the icy north had shattered our bottle of champagne-- blame Canada).

For the Cariocas and Brazilians all over the country, Reveillon represents novelty, family, and maybe even hope. Beginning around 9 or 10 local time hundreds of thousands of men, women, sons, daughters, and babies dressed in all white in celebration of renewed annual purity flock to Copacabana Beach to watch the fireworks. Not so far removed from the roots of their early indigenous and African beliefs thousands of locals offer gifts to the waves in mock sacrifice to the Candomble Goddes Iemanja (a metaphorical equivalent of the Virgin Mary). Tradition says by offering lilies, roses and the like to the crashing surf, givers can get wishes in return. Very quid pro quo for an early civilization, even a western one.  

There is music, food, and much celebration for those relatively early evening hours as revelers jock for positions on the sand. I was struck by the amount of children and babies strolling along the beach with their parents, but, as a local told me, after midnite, it's party time. In the moments leading up to the New Year, friends and families gather at the breadth of the tide to literally leap the threshold of the new calender. Jumping over the first tide on just the right leg and the following six with both, you can watch the excitement build with smiles and more than a few hugs. (Brazil more than any place in the States, is a land of tradition)  

At midnite the magic happens. Preceded by a countdown in half a dozen languages, the fireworks in Rio are a sight you don't know you've missed until you see them.

This year, I stood with a few million of my new friends as we watch the trio of barges anchored in the Copacabana bay light up the sky with a brilliant display of pyrotechnics. I considered how I had never seen anything like it as the city was blanketed in its gray haze. It lasted over 15 minutes accompanied by a welcome and deafening chorus of cheers. 

The partying, dancing and drinking don't stop until sunrise, but the experience is vastly different after the show. When it ends, my friends and I, like countless others in the sea of humanity, rush through the crowd under frantic and excited screams of "Feliz Ano Novo!"  hugging and and kissing perfect strangers like dear friends. And for at least a night, we are.  

Here are some additional vids of the chaos (sorry for the shaky camera work) including, a pre-celebration coconut on top of Arpoador, an introduction to some new friends, an Argentine friend explaining a bit about the flower tradition, me tossing a lily, and some general screams...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97D09y56Wvg, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qs3UU5EoF8, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XC0U1VfKA0, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C4FvS-X4ZE

And of course our top video of the evening, the full fireworks celebration, is sadly so large it may take tons of future time to upload... But I promise its coming and worth the wait. :) (Disclaimer, I may sound pretty out of it but I promise I was totally sober.)

Tags: 2011, beach, celebration, copacabana, fireworks, new years eve, reveillon, samba

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