30.06.2007 - 07.07.2007 31 °C
Once again, i was called behind the bar at the Ipanema hostel, this time for another June Festival party. Festa Junina events feature not only traditional songs and dances, but often involve dressing up in farmers outfits, with chequered shirts and straw hats. Girls add blush and freckles, while boys sport a Frida Kahlo-style monobrow, a big moustache and black out a tooth! Now looking the part, i jumped behind the bar again to help out for the night, amidst enthusiastic dancing and drinking.
Sleep has become a commodity, to be weighed, valued and ultimately traded off in favour of other pursuits. Like a shark, I doze briefly whenever i can get away with it, and bizarrely find myself more awake after midnight than at 4pm.
The next Saturday saw the results of the New 7 Wonders come in. In a glorious win for democracy, Cristo Redentor was elected as one of the (believe it or not) seven most incredible feats of mankind since the days of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and so forth, thanks to eight or nine million fervent Brasilians cheering him on. Also this night was Live Earth, with concerts held in cities on all habitable continents around the world, including in Rio de Janeiro. Unlike most of the other concerts, ours was free! With a bit of wrangling, I finished work early for the evening and left for the concert with a couple of Dutch guys, Pieter and Jaap, and a Chilean girl named Dani that would soon be working at my hostel.
The streets of Copacabana in the evening were awash with people, flowing like the tide to the eastern part of Copacabana Beach, increasing in depth until we were swallowed, becoming just familiar heads and arms bobbing through a sea of nameless faces. Close to 500,000 people would have been at the concert, and a massive stage was set up, featuring guest speakers, local and international artists, and crosses to Al Gore and performances in other countries. The crowd pushed and shoved as we attempted to squeeze our way through, but as we reached the sand, I found myself dragged forward by the shirt and kissed intensely on the lips by a Brasilian girl. For a full twenty seconds or more we stayed locked together until the moment passed, and with a 'wow!' from her and a devilish smile from me, we waved each other farewell.
We found a great spot between two lighting towers about a hundred metres back and next to a beer salesman. By the time the tequila and whisky cups arrived, we were already getting pretty trashed. As we danced, swam in the sea and rolled drunkenly on the sand, two local acts, O Rappa and Jorge Ben Jor, were probably the best on stage. I realised some of my favourite moments in Brasil have been when everyone sings the words to famous Brasilian songs. During those moments, an incredible feeling fills the air, a euphoria and togetherness I have seldom felt before in a crowd of unknown people.