Mr. Bugigangas and I celebrated NYE under a drizzling sky on the top of Morro da Urca this year. It was a quirky party, with families and kids bustling around amongst women in the tiniest dresses you’ve ever seen and guys wearing shorts and blindingly white tennis shoes. Almost everyone in white, which is a traditional color for New Year’s in Brazil. It made for a great visual at the beginning of the party, though by the end of the night, the bathroom was full of women trying to clean up massive drink spills—white is not the best color to combine with stilettos and drunk boyfriends, methinks!
We had a few mishaps, most notably, forgetting the camera. Also, my shoe broke the moment we left the taxi. I heard this flopflop sound and looked down to see my right sandal doing the clown-hobo thing where the sole had completely disconnected from the base of the shoe. Problem! I was tripping at every step, and sliding my feet all night was NOT going to be an option. Solution? I begged a piece of gum off one of the other guests, then used it to strategically “glue” the sole back to the shoe. It worked for about half the night, then I had to sneak off to the bathroom and use my collection of bandaids to tape it together for the rest of the night. (Serves me right for bowing to my wanting to fit in impulses and ditching the plans to wear heels.) I was pretty proud of my shoe save and Mr. Bugigangas referred to me as Ms. McGyver fo the rest of the night!
But, on to the party. I enjoyed the samba the most, as I’m really not a techno fan, and I can wiggle my hips and shuffle my feet till the cows come home if the percussion is good! While I enjoyed the 50-80’s music the DJ played over by the dinner tables, I think I was the only one in our group who did! The strains of Grease and Banho de Lua helped take my mind off the food. The menu was very strange, which was a disappointment. A “cereal” salad with cream and mint looked like a big bowl of...hurl. We passed on that. The hurricane vase full of white cream and large chunks of something pink turned out NOT to be bananas in a pudding but instead a rosemary-crusted roast beef in cauliflower cream, which I fork-poked but didn’t eat. (I went back and found the menu card later). With the exception of some pasta, white rice and a beef tips dish, the dishes were a complete mystery. There was a dry couscous-like dish, bright orange, with dried fruits in it that was odd but tasty and a chicken roulade with red curry and cashews: visually unappealing but phenomenally flavorful. So we didn’t go hungry. Phew! I know I’m a food snob, but for the price of this party, the food could have been much, much better. After all, it was a buffet. In the dark. Maybe that’s not the best time to be experimenting with inventive recipes and quirky presentations. My plate, when brought back to the table, looked so foreign, I had a moment where I wondered if I was even eating Earthling food. The waitstaff were grouchy about doublefisting drinks from the bar, which made it hard for the guys to be chivalrous and bring drinks for the ladies.
Now, before you think I’m just an old grouch, let me tell you about the fireworks. The fireworks. We didn’t have a view of Copacabana due to the trees and part of a mountain blocking the view, but I think I actually preferred looking out over Flamengo and Niterói, with their light shows, seeing the flashes of thousands of cameras going off, capturing the moment, watching the tracer fire erupt from the slums, the multitude of fireworks popping all over the cityscape...it was a visual extravaganza. A painting of a city in celebration. I got cold chills, standing on the chairs at the top of the mountain with my husband’s arm wrapped tight around my waist, being part of the millions and millions of people at that same moment putting up a hearty cheer for a new year.
Maybe the moral of this story is that being a homebody isn’t something to be ashamed of. Next year, I’d rather join up with a bunch of friends, whip up a maelstrom feast to delight all our senses, and eat it in the comfort of someone’s living room, and ring in the new year with champagne toasts, a big kiss from my husband, hugs all around and no taxi drivers to extort us (but that's another story).
Feliz 2011! May it be full of peace and successful resolutions for you and yours!