By Maria Lopez Conde, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last Saturday (February 23rd) an ambitious show of fun and fortitude was attempted by a thirty-strong group of foreigners donning plenty of SPF 50 sunscreen and their own 200-milliliter beer glasses gathered at the last waterfront kiosk in Leblon. The mission is to drink one chopp glass of beer at every kiosk (quiosque) located between Leblon and Leme in a day – the Norwegian organizers call it the Quiosqueathon.
Held for the first time in October 2008, Quiosqueathon was originally created by a Norwegian MBA student in Rio de Janeiro, Kim-André Kvaernes, and since the kiosk crawl became a tradition for a part of the Norwegian community in Rio, among others.
Even though Kvaernes is no longer in Rio, the Quiosqueathon, celebrated for the fourth year last Saturday, lives on in his absence and retains the predominantly Norwegian flavor that characterized it from its inception, drawing a crowd of mostly Norwegians, some Swedes and Germans, and a few Cariocas, all united in their commitment.
Sondre Larsson, one of the Quiosqueathon’s original participants and this year’s organizer, explained the event also started as a great way to try out all the kiosks along the beach and find the best one. A Norwegian working in the oil industry in Rio de Janeiro, Larsson said that it usually takes Quiosqueathon participants about twelve hours to complete pit stops at the approximately 40 to 50 kiosks between Leblon and Leme.
Waving a Norwegian flag and carrying a Brazilian flag canga (sarong), the group set out on its journey in Leblon at 11AM, hoping to make it to Leme by 11PM. While the group was almost exclusively European at first, a few Brazilians who arrived fashionably late joined in on the festivities throughout the day.
As the group marched down from kiosk to kiosk, it grew in size, becoming more boisterous, sunburnt, and joyful. Strangers became longtime friends as generous Norwegians went around pouring beers into the empty glasses of both co-workers and strangers of all nationalities.
For Martin Groendahl, Larsson’s co-worker and first-time participant, it is this aspect of Quiosqueathon he likes the most. “It’s a good way to have fun and get to know more people,” he explained. “It’s not really a Norwegian thing. It shouldn’t matter where you’re from, of course.”
Geir-Erik Nilsen, a bona fide Quiosqueathon veteran, affirmed the event is not so much about celebrating Norwegian culture, but about “being social, meeting people, and meeting other Brazilians.” Nilsen has been tapped to plan the 2014 Quiosqueathon.
As in previous years, this tech-savvy group used Facebook to promote its event and GPS technology to track its progress in real time, so that revelers arriving late would know where the group was and “wives would know where to pick up their husbands,” according to Nilsen.
One of the few Brazilians in the group, Bruno Dantas, said he liked the idea of the event but doubted his ability to complete the beer marathon. “I don’t think I’m going to make it to the end… I calculated it’s about ten liters worth of beer and that’s a lot,” Dantas said.
Norwegian Quiosqueathon novice working in the science research industry in Rio, Joakim Taby, thought the event was a cool way to meet other Rio-based Norwegians. When asked whether he would be able to beat the Quiosqueathon challenge, Taby was confident, “Carnival was good training, so I’m ready.”