Diary/Photo Journal


Week of December 26, 2010 - January 01, 2011 (HAPPY 2011)

We decided to recover from the holiday hustle with our friends, Paulo and Tere out at their Lake Capivari home.  We have visited several times and it always turns out to be a wonderful day.  As many friends showed up, one with a guitar and a drum, and with lots of meat in the bar-b-que, this day was no exception.

Gerson and I sat for hours enjoying the music and especially the MPB (Musica Popular Brasil) that encompasses quite a few old "folk" type songs, some that I did not need to understand the lyrics to get the gist of the trials and tribulations of the subject of the song.  


Never get tired of this view from
the house over Capivari

Music and bar-b-que and
good times for all

Carlos employee dinner
at a nice pizza place

Monday was set for getting ready for our next little wandering that we were leaving for the next day.  Also, as we were now honorary employees of Carlos' wine store, we got to be part of his employee dinner.

We decided to spend the New Years in Rio de Janeiro and with Marjorie's car, we drove up to Sao Paulo for the night.  Now, Sao Paulo has quite a lot to dislike; however, I really enjoyed our evening and the next day wandering around the streets and museums. 

Beautiful countryside on the
way to Sao Paulo.  Many different
blossoming trees

Banana groves proliferate the
countryside as the area around
Sao Paulo is famous for their

Welcome to Sao Paulo

Happy 2011

Gerson arranged for a room in a really nice hotel and with our being provided a 15th floor room, we had this spectacular view over the city.  We dropped our luggage and took a long walk to a "Mexican" restaurant for dinner.  I place "quotes" on Mexican as it was rather a 'version' of Mexican food (although good), just not quite 'south-of-the-border' enough for us (let's just say it was interesting).

If you look closely at the building
with the tower, you can see all the
individual air conditioners spotting
the windows

Some nice old buildings

View from our room

This street is known for
its crazy shopping

Cool facades

The government seat
and the Bombeiros

Gerson found a number of museums to visit and with typical Brazilian style, several were closed for the New Years holiday.  Even though the New Years is vacation time for many Brazilians and many would probably visit the museums, it is difficult to get anyone to work during this time (same during Carnaval).  So, we just wandered and taxied all over the place and enjoyed the sunny and happy day.

Where the city of
Sao Paulo was
founded in 1554

Nice city views -
old and new

I like this old man resting
under a statue that refers
to women in history


Sao Paulo's "Wall Street"

With the holidays in full swing, people were out and about, bringing the city alive.  We had to leave in mid-day in order to make it to Rio that night so we put the most into our morning.

Just around Sao Paulo

Check out the satellite dishes
taking advantage of the height
of the building

Old church

Slum buildings pepper the city

The old train station

We found Brennand again

Police presence and look
closely at the passenger
side and the rifle - serious

We made it into Rio that evening and stayed with Gerson's "cousin" through the New Year.  Dr. Jacob Reifman (dentist), "Jacques", is related to Gerson through his relationship with Gerson's cousin, Maria Luiza.  Maria Luiza passed away a couple of years ago; however, we really enjoyed our time with Jacques in the past and we wanted to spend time with him again.

Jacques lives in Copacabana and has a terrific apartamento that looks out to the beach and to the embracing hill behind the beach.  As Copacabana was expected to host over 2 million (yes, 2 million!) people for the New Year's celebration, we were right in the midst of the cacophony. 

A walk along Copacabana
Beach and the preparation for
the live music on the sand

View from Jacques home

The commercialization of

Music breaks out along
the street below Jacques

View to the surrounding
hills in Copacabana

We spent some time just catching up with Jacques and spending some time driving around the Rio area.  Rio itself is a compilation of many beaches (Copacabana, Ipanema, etc.) that are connected by many tunnels as these beaches are hugged by coastal 'mountains'. 

I am not sure how Rio will be able to handle their part in the World Cup (2014) or their hosting the Olympics (2016) as it is not like Brasil can just blast open wider tunnels and build better access to the area.  It is going to be a challenge to prepare Rio for the influx of people as well as to protect the scores of visitors from the theft that tends to dominate Rio's reputation.

Do not get me wrong, I like and enjoy visiting Rio; however, Rio is one of the most beautifully ugly or perhaps, ugliest beautiful cities I have ever experienced.  Ugly for its crime and favelas and beautiful for its stunning landscape and lively people.

Enjoying refreshment on
Copacabana Beach with Jacques

The Redeemer (Christ statue) is in a fog

The favela Rocinha

One of many tunnels that
connect the Rio beaches

Ipanema typical street view

We took a drive through several tunnels and along Ipanema Beach (where we have stayed before).  Fortunately, we got back and tucked the car away before Copacabana became impassable.  At 3 p.m., the city shuts down many of the incoming roads (and tunnels) and those that are in Copacabana are locked in for New Years as there is no real way out.

The nicer homes just on the other side
of the hill from the favelas

One of the many lagoons

Ipanema and Copacabana beaches


Let the crowds begin

Traffic coming into
Copacabana before
the city closes the

The New Year's celebration started off with the flyovers of four acrobatic jets that we were fortunate to be able to watch from the apartment (us along with hundreds of others on their rooftop patios, hanging out the windows, etc.).

Gerson and Jacques
watching the jets
flyover the beach

Jets flying over

Penthouse view of the
aerial antics

The flyovers got our adrenaline pumping and we were soon getting dressed in our "whites" for the New Year.  Wearing white symbolizes the giving of peace and white has been donned for the New Year for decades in Brasil. 

Gerson, Jacques and Louise
ready for the New Year


A sea of white migrating
to the beach

 eateries popped
up everywhere

Recently, people have been accenting the white with various colors that represent other hopes.  Green or yellow for money, red for passion, orange for receiving peace, etc.  I sashed my white with orange in hopes that 2011 will be wrapped in peace.  "So, Ms. Wright, what do you wish for?"  "I wish for world peace, or at least, just a little peace in my corner of it..."

Listening to the music and to
the laughter of our 2 million
closest friends

View to the stage for the live
music and out to the water where
the fireworks are set to go off 
synchronized from five barges

Certainly a
Happy New Year

The Olympic 2016 Logo
was unveiled at
Copacabana with
the crowd's help

Another aspect to the night of music and hopes is the throwing of flowers into the ocean and making a wish for the New Year.  And, to receive good luck, many people jump over seven waves and begin their new year cleansed of the past.  With flowers in hand, we all quietly threw our flowers into the sea along with thousands of wave-jumpers.

We brought along some 'champagne'
for the occasion and the New Year
was uncorked.

I loved the picture of Gerson and
Jacques just at the tick of the New Year
(even though it is blurry).

Let the fireworks

Just after the New Year is cheered in, the fireworks begin.  Five barges are lined up just off the coast of Copacabana Beach and the explosions are synchronized to music as they illuminate the skies.  Even the shoreline buildings participate in the show with the fireworks reflecting off the windows. 

Fireworks reflecting off the
local buildings

I "borrowed" a few photos
from Globo.com


Jacques and Louise
make their wish with
white Gladiolas and
Gerson chose a
white rose

The New Year started with a morning walk along the beach and I was amazed at how fast and how thorough were the cleaning crews.  The City's secret?  Many people scour the beaches and the streets, picking up all the recyclable items they can, bag the items and wait for the recycle-garbage trucks to come along.  The recycle-garbage crews weigh the bags, take the bags and give a receipt to the garbage-gatherer to be later exchanged for money.  Needless to say, there are many people that participate and the result was mountains of garbage bags representing tons of garbage and beaches and streets that are literally picked clean.  Hmmm, what a concept!

New Years Day and enjoying the New Year

Jacques and Gerson standing in front of 
common little street bars that are all over Rio.

The secret to clean beaches and streets:
pay people to clean up the garbage

People, with their bags of garbage,
waiting for the garbage truck to come
by and pick it up and pay

We spent the first day of the year enjoying the beach, a friend's company, some good food and getting ready to leave for a little beach time the next day.  Oh, and Gerson was treated to a special teeth-cleaning from Jacques.  I tried to bribe Jacques to make it so Gerson could not talk for the day but alas, Jacques loyalty laid with his cousin.

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