26 December 2011

High Season

Leaving Rio in droves...
High Season starts today. From now until Ash Wednesday next year upwards of 200,000 people are expected to swell our normal Búzios population of 28,000, and that doesn't take into account the thousands of tourists that disembark every day from the cruise ships. The hoteliers are rubbing their hands together with glee. They've been waiting for high season on pins and needles. They have already announced nearly 100% occupancy, even with minimum packages of five to seven days. Owners of rental properties are salivating. There are people willing to shell out as much as $8,000 per week for the privilege of luxury private lodgings. Equally energized are the restaurants, the souvenir shops, the tour operators, the taxi drivers and the food markets. Drugstores will turn a steady profit just from sunscreen sales alone. Informal beach peddlers are counting on these two months to make up for the slow sales of low season.

...and squeezing into our one entrance to town
My annual holing-up also starts today, and I will remain holed up until after Carnaval. And I don't think I'm so unusual. High Season is dreaded by almost all the year-round residents here, same as it is dreaded by year-round residents of the south of France, the Hamptons and probably every other seasonal resort in the world. The worst of it here will occur during the week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, and then again during the week of Carnaval. But even in between those two bookends there will be no escaping the bumper-to-bumper traffic, the long lines in the supermarkets, higher prices on everything everywhere, and the scores of unconscious, noisy, inconsiderate, partying renters spreading what they think of as "good cheer" into the wee, small hours of the morning. There will be a dearth of parking spaces. There will be unbelievable strain on the water and electric services.

Can't see it, but I think it's Geribá Beach
Disliking clamor and hullabaloo as I do, Mark and I decided years ago to try and leave town during this period, and we did manage to get away a few times. One year we spent the Christmas/New Year holiday in the States (I had forgotten about snow). Another year we checked into a hotel in São Paulo for our escape. We figured São Paulo — Brazil's serious, business city — would completely empty out during the holidays, and it did. We figured the hotels would be desperate for customers and would offer super deals, and they did. We had a great (read quiet) time. 

But most years we have stood our ground, and we plan to do the same this year. After all, I used to be a Girl Scout, I know what to do in emergency situations. We shall stock up on rental movies, get out our favorite music and stay in our house. We'll use the car only when absolutely necessary, and be grateful to have nearly everything we need within walking distance. And I have a feeling that — as in past years — I'll complain and rant and expostulate. But this, too, shall pass. In retrospect, I won't think High Season was so bad. Until December 26th of next year. 

[I'm not a total Scrooge. I hope everyone enjoyed a Merry Christmas! I wish everyone a Happy New Year! And to my Brazilian friends, Bom Carnaval!]

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