RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio de Janeiro welcomed the start of summer with bright sunshine and a heat index of up to 49 C (120 F), a situation that has drawn thousands of Brazilians and tourists to the city’s main beaches.
In the middle of Christmas week, and with actual temperatures of up to 36 C, Brazil’s National Weather Institute predicts that clear skies will continue to prevail in the coming days along with thermometer readings above 30 C.
Just a little more than a week from when Copacabana beach will host about two million people for the New Year celebration, Rio’s most famous beach is already drawing thousands of people eager to enjoy the first days of their holiday vacation.
On Ipanema beach, students on their holiday break turned out with families coming from all over Brazil, as well as Argentine, European and Asian tourists.
Naira is 18 and came with her family to Rio from the Amazonas region to visit beaches and the nearby cities.
“This sun is marvelous, perfect for getting tan,” she said while her younger brothers built a sand castle nearby.
Several young people with surfboards were hanging out together by one of the many stands along the beach where people can rent beach chairs or umbrellas, as well as buy drinks or snacks.
The owner of one of those stands is Edmilson, who has run his business for 16 years and said that he was starting to notice a rise in sales and hoped to do well, “despite Rio’s economic crisis.”
His main customers are “Brazilians from other cities and Argentines,” he said, happy with the start of summer, adding that he hoped the season is “hot and with no rain.”
Edmilson encouraged everyone to come to the beach, saying “We’re here with open arms for the tourists,” and adding that he expects “to sell a lot of caipirinhas, beer and coconut water.”