New Year marks the start of the celebrations in Brazil that last until the end of Carnival (March 4th-8th). The streets of Sao Paulo have been emptied and everyone's heading to the beach to celebrate. The idea of sitting in traffic (we've heard of people leaving at 2am and taking 11 hours to get to a beach that, on a normal day, should only take 1.5 hours) with a screaming toddler terrifies us so we decided to travel for Christmas instead (when all the Brazilians stay at home with their families) and stay in the city this year. We have a kilo of file mignon and a bottle of cachaca to last us the evening. So is the life of one that has children!
The last New Years that we spent here in Brazil was in 2006 and we had arrived a few days earlier in Salvador. We booked ourselves into a local bar as we had been told how crazy busy it was going to be, had a few warm-up caprihinias (it only really takes me one to warm up!), tucked some money into socks or bras (anywhere a wandering hand might be noticed!) and headed out for the evening. The party on the street and beach was much more exciting than the inside of a bar so we left the comforts of the bar (for me this was access to a toilet) to go and get involved.
It was our first introduction to live music in Brazil and it was amazing. There was 4 days of music in Salvador and on that evening we saw some Brazilian greats, including Daniela Mercury. Entire families (and I'm taking 4-5 generations all dancing together) took it upon themselves to teach us estrangeiros to samba and we made some great friends for that evening.
The ancient African religion of Candomble is still highly regarded here in Brazil. Thousands will go to the beach today to pay homage to the Afro-Brazilian Goddess of the Sea, Lemanja. Candles and flowers are floated out to sea in the hope that she will answer people's hopes and wishes that are carried in these little boats.
Also, everyone dresses in white out of tradition and it is considered to bring you good luck and peace in the New Year (so leave your little black dress at home). The evening will end with a series of fireworks at midnight which we hopefully will be able to see from our balcony. There is a big party on Avenida Paulista tonight starting at 10pm - if we've run out of cachaca we might pop Sophie in the buggy and head over to see the fireworks. If not, here's to good health, good times, good friends and making some fantastic memories here in Brazil in 2011!