13 January 2014

It Could Have Been Worse

Dear Diary,
Dear Hugo
Whew, we made it through another Christmas/New Year in Búzios! This year Mark and I played it smart, we stocked the house with food and drink and staples before Christmas, and any day-to-day needs we had for fresh fruits and vegetables we took care of on foot. You should have seen the bumper-to-bumper traffic, and you should have seen the tempers flaring. I always have to remind myself, it’s as bad as this at high season in the Hamptons, it’s as bad as this at high season in St. Tropez . . . but you know this already, I’ve been complaining to you for years. This year our neighborhood was amazingly quiet. We had a small New Year’s Eve dinner celebration with just a few friends and even the electricity cooperated all night! So for the first time in many a year, I had no complaints. As Hugo, an old friend of ours, used to say, It could have been worse.

But for others, unfortunately, it was much, much worse this year. There was that devastating storm I told you about on December 18th, remember? It was the most violent storm Búzios had experienced in 17 years! Well, we were okay because we’re up on a hill. A leak here, a leak there, nothing that towels couldn’t sop up. But on the day after the storm there was Búzios being declared a disaster area on national television news! Many low-lying areas were completely flooded. And we just learned that a friend of ours, who was traveling at the time of the storm, returned to a house that had been destroyed by a landslide of mud and trees that came down from the mountain behind her house. She stayed with us for a while, fairly shell-shocked. I suppose Hugo would say that it could have been worse for her — she could have been in her house at the time.

Some of our unfortunate new public transportation systems here in Búzios . . .

And I didn’t tell you about another friend, who was riding along on her motor scooter on New Year’s Eve day when she was side-swiped by a car. She ended up spending New Year’s Eve in the hospital emergency room, can you imagine? And she told us about the long line of people waiting to be X-rayed, the majority of whom had also been in traffic accidents that day. I’m telling you, diary, it’s crazy out there on the streets! Hundreds of thousands of people come to spend the holidays in Búzios, and all of them get angry and impatient and imprudent when they find that they can’t get where they’re going except at a crawl. Well, it could have been a lot worse for our friend. She was cut and bruised and abraded, but she survived, and with no broken bones.

Okay, diary, thanks as always for listening. Mark and I had a good start to the New Year and for that we are grateful. Brazil is gearing up for a big year ahead, and I’ve got to prepare for all the blog posts it will generate. There’s the World Cup (all soccer, all the time!); there’s always Carnaval; there’s the Presidential election (protests, corruption, crime, a no-grow economy, a failing health system — Dilma still has it in the bag); and there’s even an outside chance Brazil will accept Edward Snowden’s request for asylum, which would be an incredibly interesting turn of events. All in all, things could be a lot worse.

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