The day before New Years Eve I had the pleasure, and I mean that sincerely, of taking a lengthy and expensive taxi ride from Santa Teresa to Barra de Tijuca. Opposite my inauspicious welcome to Rio, this time, the driver was upfront about the price and the alternate routes (my choice: scenic or economical? [I opted for the scenic, coastal drive, 'cuz, you know, when in Rio...]). Moreover, he proceeded to play the welcoming tour guide, giving me great tips and interesting information about the neighborhoods we passed. (Though I was slightly afraid we were going to plunge off the bridge south of Dois Irmãos on account of the spectacular view.)
À Prefeitura do Rio de Janeiro: No tema do planejamento para os eventos de 2014 e 2016, pensem bem sobre a importância das primeiras impressões que os motoristas de táxis da cidade fazer. Valem tudo.
Onward. Shelley and Rafael have a sweet pad in front of Praia do Pepê in Barra. Lovely. Fantastic location. Perfect for our Reveillon Reunion. I extend to them my sincerest gratitude for hosting me, Ivan and Angelica, Todd, Ryan and Hisae; for cooking for us, shuttling us around in the car, and hanging out until all hours. It was perfect.
While Rafa and I ran errands on New Years Eve, Shelley spent the day cooking the traditional lentilha, to go with a special greek rice, her fantastic potato salad (called maionese in Portuguese), and a churrasco of sausage, grilled provolone, garlic bread and leg of lamb. Here's a pre-festivity exchange between Shelley and Rafa about the menu:
Shelley: Então, lentilha, arroz grega, maionese, e... sem salada? So, lentils, greek rice, potato salad and... no salad?
Rafa: Maionese é salada. Potato salad is salad.
Shelley and me: [cracking up on the sofa]
Shelley: [trying to explain our laughter to her Gaúcho] Amor, that's like saying a cheeseburger is churrasco!
Later, thanks to a canceled flight, Ivan and Angelica arrived earlier than expected, around six in the evening, and, all dressed in white, the festivities commenced!
Later still, my hostel playmates, Ryan and Todd, arrived with Hisae, Ryan's Japanese girlfriend, just in from Germany.
After the meal, the traditional grapes, some beers and some caipirinhas, we loaded up our champagne bottles and headed across to soft sand of Praia do Pepê. There were loads of fireworks along the horizon and the perfect amount of people--enough to feel like a special celebration but not enough to feel like a hoard.
On the beach, I never quite know when the virada happens. I only notice a vague and possibly inaccurate countdown. And the best thing is, I don't really care. I hug every one. Eu dou beijos nas bochechas. I jump seven waves and cast my hopes for 2011 to Iemanjá.
One of my goals for 2011 is to simply Be Here Now, and I was totally there.
I am both optimistic and curious about 2011, given that I have no idea what changes are on my path or how the various options and opportunities will play out. However, I can feel that they will be big and carry a lasting impact on my future, even more so than the events of the last couple years.
In any case, 2011 was well-welcomed in wonderful company.
Vamo lá gente!