It’s January. If you’ve been keeping up with my travel, you will know that I arrived in August. Here I am, five months later, staring the end of my trip in the face. I haven’t yet begun wrapping up my experiences or even really acknowledging that my time in Rio will end so soon- but in the mean time, Rio de Janeiro continues to give me some of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in my life.
Probably the most notable in the past two weeks was the celebration of New Years 2016 at Copacabana beach. Copacabana is known to be one of the phenomenal New Year’s Eve festivals this side of the world- and let me tell you, it was nothing short of extraordinary. I’d like to add a little bit of backstory about my 2015 here. 2015 was perhaps the best year of my life I’ve experienced yet. While it started out quite rocky, I was able to rebalance myself, find my footing, have an extremely successful last semester of my undergraduate degree, obtain my degree, and be awarded the Lumos Award to travel to Brazil for six months. 2015 was a year of challenge, discovery, and accomplishment. That being said, I was a little sad to leave it behind, but my experience in Rio on NYE sure enough reminded me that all good things must end to make room for the new.
So, myself and five other volunteers dressed ourselves in white, the traditional color of New Years, symbolizing peace for the coming year, and headed down to the beach a few hours before midnight. When we arrived, we wandered through a sea of thousands dressed in white to the shore of Copacabana. We sat in beach chairs and spoke of what we hoped would come in the next year, and before we knew it, it was midnight. Across the sand everyone stood to watch perhaps the most fantastic sixteen minute firework display I’ve ever seen, and when it was over we all left behind our chairs and ran into the sea, singing, laughing, and dancing into 2016. If you’ve ever read Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that, in that moment, I felt infinite. There floating on my back in the sea, the moon turned red from firework smoke hanging in the sky, flowers thrown into the sea pooling around me, and my dear and close friends that I’ve made along the way surrounding me, I felt limitless, and my happiness couldn’t be bound. The night only continued to get better than there, and we ended it by watching the beautiful Rio sunrise from the shore. Needless to say, it was a marvelous way to enter 2016.
Beyond my NYE celebration, I was blessed to have a few days off from volunteering to go explore more of Rio with friends. After five months, I finally saw the views from Sugarloaf mountain, known to the locals as Pao de Acucar. We hiked Dois Irmaos, or Two Brothers mountain and looked over what seemed to be all of Rio. I fed monkeys at Parque Lage, and swam in the waterfalls at Tijuca Forest.
I’ve been ringing in 2016 with sheer happiness and adventure, I can hardly wait to see what my last month in Rio brings me.
More adventures coming soon, ate logo.