The first two weeks in Rio were tough on me, so I was thinking of living to Uruguay earlier. The only thing that kept me here was the thought that I would spend the New Year in Copacabana. I was not wrong – it was a night to remember!
There were probably 3 million people in Copacabana. The tradition is to wear white, so most of them are dressed in white clothes. Another habit is to bring offerings to the African goddess of the sea, Yemaja. Many people bring flowers to her and let them float in the sea. Some of them buy a small boat where they put the offerings for her and pieces of paper with their New Year resolutions and they launch it in the sea. Also, you have to jump seven waves for good luck.
Organizing the evening was quite a challenge because there were 18 of us and everybody wanted to do something else. It was difficult to get everybody out of the house on time. In order to ride the metro you had to buy the tickets sooner and to choose the hour interval. The metro was really crowded, I don`t know how we`ve all managed to enter it and to go down at the right station. We arrived at the last metro station in Copacabana and we walked for a few kilometers to the main scene. There were people everywhere on the street. The image of the people that were watching the crowds from their windows was amazing.
In the front of the main stage there were thousands of people. Our original plan was to get to post 1 where it is very quiet. Copacabana has an arch shape so from Post 1 you can admire the entire beach. We got stuck in front of the main stage, so we had to go back to Post 3, in the middle of the beach. We were able to find a spot on the beach, luckily.
There were many boats lined parallel to the coast line, all lighted. Two minutes before midnight the fireworks started and lasted for about 10 minutes. It`s hard to describe the feeling. At first everybody was applauding and screaming, but then it was quiet because the people were watching the show.
After the fireworks we went dancing on the beach. I had to be back at the hostel at 3 AM so I had an early night, but still I got to spend the New Year on a beach, surrounded by many people, enjoying the view and the show. If I could have stayed longer I would have watched the sunrise from the Arpoador rocks.
However, this party has downsides because the millions of tourists attract many thieves. Two guys from my group got robbed, but many of my friends saw people feeling their pockets. As always, people who didn`t look Brazilian were targeted.
Even so, it is a fantastic place to spend the New Year. For me this is certainly the most memorable New Year!