Sunday, July 12, 2015
Today it Rained. Lots.
A large city surrounded by mountains is not necessarily a pleasant place. Santiago's air has been foul this winter. The contaminación has been at its absolute peak - the worst it has been in sixteen years. When the sun hits the air, clear vision extends for about twenty meters, and then there's haze. Across the street is fuzzy, the air tastes foul and scorches your throat and causes nasty gnawing headaches that linger for days. Wheee.
Since our one decent rain back in April, we've had nothing. Bone-dry and static cling. Sweating through these last months before the winter rain has become an exercise in spiritual endurance - closing one's eyes and closing one's windows and steadfastly - for want of alternatives - not thinking about the air. We've had driving restrictions (40% of license plates ordered off the roads) for the first time in almost a decade, but as a solution it's cosmetic, and ignores the lumbering elephants of root causes and tacit acceptances of levels of industrial and auto output that could (and probably has) choke a horse.
But last night the rains came. We were woken at 4:30 this morning - a tremendous gale had set off car alarms up and down the street. The rain began, and the wind began to howl and whine and squeal through our (closed) bathroom windows and set the curtains on our (closed) living room windows flapping and billowing. (Living in an earthquake zone renders perimeter seals more of a theory than an actual thing. It doesn't help with the contaminación either.)
By ten this morning the storm had blown itself out and settled down to a persistent, drenching rain. The streets and sidewalks were invisible - you could hardly tell where one started and the other stopped, because the platano orientale trees, which normally hang onto their brown leaves all through the winter, had had almost everything blown off at once!
The poor concierges of all of the apartment buildings have had their work cut out for them. Santiago possesses (in the spirit of possess insisting on too many esses) a mania for keeping one's pitch impossibly immaculate. A gentle autumn breeze is the concierge's bête noire- the most particularly dedicated sort will spend whole afternoons hovering just outside the front door, rake in hand, primed to pounce on each leaf as it drifts to earth. It's personal.
Solid freezing rain wasn't going to put them off clearing their lawns. No, Sir -
But the rain fell and the leaves kept dropping, and wet sacks of sodden leaves in a sea of more leaves took on the most sad, futile aspect -
And by mid-day pretty much everyone had given up.
Mr Tabubil and I splashed out through the rain and leaves up to our local supermarket, and came home and made the best brownies in the world and roasted a chicken and left the window open while we ate. Fresh, clear air is worth dinner in down jackets, as often as we can get it!