I feel a bit silly at the moment, walking around Sao Paulo with an umbrella. An umbrella so large that it won’t fit in my bag and I have to wave it around like a sword as I walk as a warning to anyone who might be considering laughing, smirking, tutting or otherwise being amused by me. And why would they?
Well, the thing is that there hasn’t been any significant rain here for a couple of weeks and if widespread reports are to be believed there won’t be any to speak of for at least a couple more.
That’s why, as I queue for a bus, people are staring at me more than usual (they always stare at gringoes anyway).
The heat forms the substance of nearly every conversation: ‘Hottest January since 1943’, ‘Did you know the average minimum temperature is six degrees higher than usual?’ And on it goes.
Maximum temperatures have been above thirty for a while now and, although that’s nothing to a Carioca (person from Rio) who often experiences temperatures above forty, it’s way too hot for me and for most Paulistas who use it as an excuse to complain more than usual.
Shops are running out of fans and authorities are fretting about the level of reservoirs which are not only relied on to supply drinking water but are also used to generate hydroelectricity so the cost of energy is predicted to rise.
Most of the rivers in Sao Paulo are essentially open drains which smell pretty bad at the best of times but without regular deluges to wash all the effluence away it begins to fester in the baking sun and the smell becomes overwhelming.
The other great thing about the heat is that it drives all the cockroaches overground which makes them easier to stand on.
In 2007, after a freakily heavy downpour, my London flat was flooded. When I arrived in Sao Paulo I discovered that the unbelievably heavy rain that had given me six months of insurance hell happened at roughly four pm every afternoon through the summer and was delt with quite adequately by the ample storm drains which spirited rivers of water away when they were not blocked with rubbish.
Amazed by the frequency and intensity of these almost biblical metreological events, I grew accustomed to carrying my umbrella at all times, confident that, even on the sunniest of days, there would be an afternoon soaking which would have sent noah running to b&q quicker than you can say ‘gene pool?’
And so it is for this reason that I feel, if you’ll excuse my french, a bit of a tit, clutching my umbrella . let’s hope it rains soon.