It is finally April. Presumably, the end of the rainy season for the southeast region of Brazil. We will see: weather is not what it used to be anymore, one should take umbrella and coat whenever going out, to be on the safe side. Rio de Janeiro is beautiful and breathtaking, but when it rains… The following text was published on The Umbrella, a local newsletter for the English-speaking Community in Rio de Janeiro.
Some experiences turn to lessons very quickly: never plan to stay in Rio de Janeiro during vacations in January. It rains. Better yet, it pours. A few of you will remember the first Rock in Rio music festival: George Benson, Yes and a lost pair of shoes, as it would not budge from the fist thick mud. After the show, the alternative was taking a bus to São Paulo and spend the rest of the leisure days by a swimming pool at a cousin’s. Not an option. Young and restless, no other place compares to Rio, even while there is this crazy guy surfing the flooded waters in Baixo Gávea.
A mystery to be solved when it rains: where do all those vendors carrying umbrellas come from? Do they hide in dark alleys, sneaking up the skies, and begging for dark clouds day in, day out? And where do they store their arsenal? They are so fast! All of a sudden pedestrians in need bump into them right as the first fat splashy hurtful drop of rain turns into a blob on your smart garment while in the centre of the city interviewing for a job.
Women in general suffer the most from the ravages of rain. They wear thin shifts that vanish under water. Their hair turns into whatever; the high heeled sandals become drenched, start to squish, and as luck would have it, eventually, one of the tiny leather straps goes bust.
Picture yourself in the middle of Largo da Carioca, the furious summer wind channeling from the sea, the Portuguese stones transforming into soap – let us not even get started on the ghastly job of the guys that place the black and white pieces on the sidewalk – the safety under the marquises being disputed inch by precious inch.
You have to think quick: the tube, a bus or a taxi back home? All right, forget the latter, taxis are a figment of imagination at times like this… The guy sporting three hundred and ninety-eight umbrellas on his arms approaches. Is he reliable? How much is this artifact going to cost? After having successfully negotiated both the price and the cavities of your outsized purse, and having opened and fervently grabbed the purchased pluvial protection (a jaunty white with little black cats!) opened and fervently grabbed, you depart in the direction of Avenida Rio Branco to find a bus. As you bend the corner, so does the umbrella – over itself.