Brazilia Has Grown Better Than Planned

Lago Sul, where I live, is much nicer than the city of Brasilia.  They say that the plan for Brasilia was a tribute to modernism.  I think that says it all.  The guy who is responsible for lots of the design is still alive. I think he is more than 100 years old.  He defends his concept with vigor to this day, but he lives in Rio.  In any case, the city is turning out better than he planned. Brazilian people are smarter than a few old planners.

But Lago Sul grew up more organically.  It has sidewalks, trees, private houses & streets with corners.   People prefer to live in places like this.  Modernism is just not a human system.  It reminds me of science fiction written in the 1950s and 1960s.  They thought the future would be something like modernism, with a clear break from the past and a kind of rational collectivism.  Fortunately, it didn’t happen.  Of course, Lago Sul is not the inexpensive part of town, so there is no surprise it is pleasant.

The weather around here is perfect every day.  I can well understand why it is easy to put things off.  The old saying that “you have to make hay while the sun is shining” has no real meaning here.*   In Virginia, I sometimes pushed myself out for a run on a nice day, anticipating a worsening of the weather later.  In Brasilia I can be reasonably sure that tomorrow morning will be just like today.  In a few months the rainy season will start.  That means that we will get precipitation every day, but still very much predictable and while it will rain almost every day, it will not rain all day.

One of the great things about having a pleasant climate is the way people can mix outdoor and indoor space.  Indoor space can extend out into the yard and if you have it covered against the rain and sun it can be essentially the same room, with what we might characterize as indoor furniture and activities.  You cannot do this in Wisconsin because of the cold much of the years and the unpleasant humidity and/or legions of mosquitoes the rest.  In Florida, they have the so-called “Florida rooms,” but they need to be screened in against the bugs and do not provide the real seamless interface.   I saw some of the outdoor room concept in Arizona. It works there about half of the year, when it is not too hot.  In Brasilia it is essentially a year-round option.

The picture that shows the straw roof is of a restaurant we went to for the going away party for one of the staff.  It was a nice place with ostensibly indigenous food.  It was good, but much of the charm came from the indoor, outdoor interface.  If you ate “inside” you felt the influence of the outside and vice-versa.

I have to add a disclaimer, lest I annoy some colleagues.  I like the Brasilia climate.  I liked it last time I was here and I like it even more now.  But my discussions with others indicate my opinion may not be universal.  I am easy to please. I like most places. I even liked Iraq in many ways.  You just had to get up early in the morning to enjoy it.  People say, and I suppose they are right, that Brasilia suffers from an overly dry climate in the winter and an overly wet one in the summer.  Some people can’t take it.  They get asthma, nosebleeds & other respiratory troubles.   I know that is true, but I cannot say I actually understand it at a personal level.   It seems to me that you just have to adapt your activities to do most things in the early morning or evening, drink a lot of water and eat things like watermelon.  It is not different from Arizona in that way, but I suppose the green surrounding create a deception.  The dust and smoke can be annoying during the very dry-burning season.  I don’t look forward to that, but it only lasts a few weeks.  After that, we get rainbow season.  Wait to see the pictures.

BTW -the picture of the beer cans just shows my task ahead of trying all Brazilian beers. It is a hard job, but somebody has to do it. 

*It occurs to me that I have to explain that old saying to some readers.  Making hay, means putting the hay up in bales. It is a job that must be done in sunny and dry weather because if the hay is wet it decays and the decaying process makes heat.  Packed together closely enough in a barn, the heat can be enough to start a fire, spontaneous combustion.  I don’t really know much about hay making.  Chrissy used to do it on the farm, so most of my knowledge comes second hand from her, but I have seen piles of wet grass smolder.  When you dig inside, the inner layers are black and hot.  Hay is very tightly packed.  I can well imagine that if you had enough of this packed together the inner core could get hot enough to burn.  Anyway, the saying means that you have to do things when you have the opportunity and the time is right, not when you feel like it.