Rainy Rio

By Rob Packer

British beachgoers look for holidays with “sun, sand and sea”; while Spanish speakers look for “sol, brisa y mar” (sun, breeze and sea). The reason for this should be clear enough for anyone who’s spent any part of the summer staring out over the yellow plains of Castile from Madrid desperately hoping for a breeze; or, on the other hand, to any unsuspecting visitor to Brighton expecting fun with a bucket and spade. I say this from experience: I was taken, unwarned, to Brighton when I was about five and have never forgiven the place for it.

I have no idea what the Portuguese rule of three for the beach is (if you do, please put it in the comments), but what do you do in a city famous for having sol, mar, breeze, sand and everything else, when it’s a rainy day in Rio? The tourist brochures might keep quiet about it, but Rio actually does have double the annual rainfall of somewhere like London. Thankfully this is quite often fast rain, rather than northern Europe’s leisurely drizzle, but cloudy days do come around with about the frequency of, oh, Brazilian public holidays: so much so, that they almost always coincide.

So what to do on a cloudy day in Rio? Some tell me that everyone goes to the mall (true); others that no one knows what to do, stick distraught heads under pillows and stay at home (no way to check); and the hardiest will still go to the beach (they do I’ve checked).

None of these options is really as good as going up into the mountains and seeing how beautiful they are under cloud.

This last weekend added another option: FLUPP, the Literary Festival of the UPPs—an offshoot of FLIP, the Paraty Literary Festival—that aimed to bring literature to Rio’s newly pacified comunidades. The views swept 270º from Corcovado to the airport in the north of the city, but the real action was inside the tents with writers and poets like Manuel Vilas (Spain), Patrícia Portela (Portugal), Kei Miller (Jamaica), Allan da Rosa and Ferreira Gullar (Brazil).

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