This is the view that greeted us this morning. That isn’t haze. It’s pollution.
This is what our view looks like on days when the air is clear, which, fortunately, is most of the time.
But this year, the rainy season came and went with little long-lasting precipitation: we got the afternoon deluge, which wreaked havoc with the traffic and caused immediate, though temporary, flooding, but had few days of real rain. Thus, today’s air. We tasted it when we woke. Today, I will keep the apartment closed, the fan on, and run the air purifier. Any thought of outdoor exercise is out of the question. I’ll do yoga here, instead. I have to walk the dogs, but today’s walk will be shorter than usual.
Brazil, land of the Amazon and Atlantic rain forests, is suffering from severe drought. And this lack of rain is affecting everybody. I walk the dogs, and smell urine and feces on the streets, which haven’t been washed clean by the rains. A thick layer of dust covers everything not swept clean by business or condominium workers hired to wash and sweep the surfaces.
But worse still is what I see in the people. Shoulders are up and smiles don’t come as easily as usual. People seem tense … and this is not a good thing in a city of 20 million.
Yesterday, there were protests across Brazil, and here in Sao Paulo. These weren’t the peaceful protests of a year ago, when crowds walked quietly through the streets carrying signs that stated their grievances. Yesterday, angry mobs gathered and immediately torched things and caused havoc. No peace for them. They want action, and they want it NOW. Or there will be hell to pay.
Some of those protesting declared they were protesting against lack of schools, lack of upper education opportunities, lack of health facilities, and low wages. All valid grievances. Others were protesting against the money spent on the World Cup. Again valid, if ineffectual. The games are coming, despite the nation being only 50% prepared (and all funds gone).
But others are taking advantage of the riots for their own gain. It’s hard to support them when images such as these are rife in the news.
More protests were planned for today, which might explain why traffic is pretty light on the main thoroughfare behind us. Buses and metros were due to shut down today. The US Consulate sent out a message yesterday, warning of planned demonstrations today and suggesting that certain areas be avoided. Unfortunately, I think most main streets will be affected, which won’t improve tempers much.
We need rain, to clear the air, physically and psychically. We need to wash the streets and clear the minds. Too much dust has settled, and the stink of life is at its height. People can’t help but react.
We need the blessed quenching of rain.