Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ubatuba New Year

One thing I hadn’t thought about as I was leaving Brazil, was how cold it could get over here. And why would I!?! I guess on each rare occasion Brazil is on the news back home, the news crews don't tend to film Brazilians wearing jumpers or jackets in winter. Perhaps I had naively imagined tropical weather here, all day, every day...with people doing a bit of samba round the supermarkets, as they did their weekly shopping in their bikinis.

Well I’m here now, and not only does this not happen, but I am happy I packed those sweaters!
Kiko and Larissa, on route to Ubatuba.
Whilst mornings over here aren’t nearly as cold as they can be in England, it can still be pretty chilly. On a night it gets to about as low as 5/10 degrees. For me this is a bit cold, but not nearly as cold as I’m used to. I was fascinated when I saw one elderly woman on the news recently, and she was stood there with all of her clothes on, warming up her bed sheets with a hairdryer. Then she got into bed, put the hairdryer under the sheets and again turned it on (Oi, Oi!) to get a bit warmer. Why she hadn’t gone out to buy a heater, or why she had invited the news crews into her bedroom to film her, as she lay there with a hairdryer under the sheets, I have no idea! But you get the idea...she was cold (and a little bit mental!). Hearing Brazilians complain about cold weather any time they need to put a sweater on is quite surprising for me! 
But let me take this opportunity to reminisce about at time when the weather was much warmer, during my summer vacation in December (And yea, I still think it’s weird that the seasons fall on different months of the year!).
Last November when my friend Kiko invited me to join him and his friends on a trip to Ubatuba, I jumped at the chance. Ubatuba is a coastal city, and not particularly famous with foreigners outside of Brazil, so going there for New Year gave me the opportunity to experience how New Year is commonly celebrated by Brazilians!
Compared to the hustle and bustle of the Sao Paulo life I have become used to, Ubatuba is a much more relaxing place to be. Our place was just one block from the beach and there was not nearly as much traffic, so needless to say, during the day we spent plenty of our time relaxing on the beach. I was pretty excited about spending my first New Year on a beach too (and I mean in a hot country...I am not counting being on Scarborough beach in England here!).
After going out for a meal on New Year’s Eve at about 10pm (I have just made myself sound really sophisticated haven’t I, we just went out for some pizza!), we drove towards our house near the beach. There were so many people out on the streets, all wearing white and drinking beer. Over here white is worn to see in the New Year here because it is supposed to bring peace for the upcoming year.

After going back to the house and grabbing a few beers, myself and the other eleven people I was sharing the house with headed down to the beach to join the party.
But just as we were leaving the house, it started chucking it down! So five minutes later I was stood on the beach; in the rain, in my white tee-shirt, wet and a little cold (I apologise now to the ladies imagining me like this, I didn’t mean to excite you!)....wondering what the hell I was doing! The rain didn’t dampen the party spirit though, and as luck would have it, about ten minutes before midnight, the rain stopped. The fireworks went off at midnight to signal the start of the New Year.
The guys I shared a house with in Ubatuba.
Two of my good friends, Kiko and Larissa, popped open their sparkling wine at the stroke of midnight. As you can imagine, midnight was pretty rowdy, and they shook these bottles and sprayed everyone around them with sparkling wine. It was obvious from looking at one girl, who was stood next to Kiko, that she had spent a while putting her make up on before leaving the house. One moment she was jumping up and down celebrating with everyone, and the next, Kiko had managed to absolutely soak her with a huge spray of sparkling wine...completely wiping the smile (and half her make up) off her face! She stopped jumping around after this. After everyone had finished hugging and kissing (I have come to realise that Brazilian’s need much of an excuse to do this! Although kissing on the lips was a big no-no, apparently this is weird. So by default, this made me weird until about 12.02am, when I was told not to do this anymore!), what happened next was quite bizarre! I had been told what to expect, but seeing it with my own eyes was a real eye opener.
Everyone ran towards the sea. And when I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE! 
The drive home.
You had grannies, teenagers, some kids and parents all running over towards the sea (in the dark), and everyone started jumping over the waves! Doing this is supposed to bring good luck. If you live by the beach in Brazil, I was told that it’s tradition for you to jump over the waves, seven times, as soon as it hits midnight, and make your wishes to the sea gods for the new year.
The sight of overweight, elderly women running into the sea at midnight, in the dark, jumping over the waves (like Sally Gunnell)...well, it was pretty surreal! There were also a lot of people on the beach lighting candles and placing gifts on the sand (I later found out these were being offered to the goddess of the sea, so my pleasure at seeing free things people had left on the beach turned to disappointment when I learnt the finders-keepers rule didn’t apply here!). And for the next twenty minutes, everyone celebrated on the beach against the backdrop of fireworks.

After this, myself and my housemates went back to the house to continue partying, and someone plugged their ipod into the speakers and blasted out some music. I remember going inside to get a beer, and I doubt I will forget in a hurry what I saw next as I walked back outside. I had NEVER seen ladies dancing in public like this before......

But this deserves a whole blog of its own!

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