Rain on the Parade

Well, that was the most thoroughly rained-on parade I’ve ever seen.

The march started around 3pm, on cue, and the daily afternoon rain arrived also on cue about half an hour later. Very spectacular. Lots of forumistas clutching their bags and running. A sudden flowering of umbrellas from the forewarned ones who knew what they were marching into. Lots more just going with the flow, literally.

I think my trousers have dried out by now. We were ready with the umbrellas, but I’ve never been out in the rain proper here before, and it came sideways at times.

The gutters here are specially wide, and they need to be – the amount of water that falls between 3pm and 5pm is amazing.

When we got to the McDonalds we made a tactical excursion to bring the Revolution to a chicken salad and sandwich. The security guards looked pretty edgy, but none of the crowd (maybe around 100,000, which is the number of registered attendees the Forum emails are claiming) got as far as breaking any windows. The Federal shock troops were there too, but just doing crowd control.

(One of the somewhat surreal sights you get used to here is that every supermarket has store guards armed with handguns. And they usually keep their hand on the grip. Just to let you know they care. At the Formosa, our favourite supermarket right now because it has a lanchonete that does breakfast and dinner, an armoured truck was picking up the money as we left; the truck guard had a drawn shotgun and looked pretty nervous. Your everyday friendly local supermercado. Just another day in Brazil.)

For reference, a McDonalds or Bob’s meal costs about R$17, which is fairly pricey compared to, say, a comida á kilo plate or some salgados (savouries) from a lanchonete, so you wouldn’t necessarily want to eat at a chain all the time. My brother had a nightmarish experience with the Bob’s restroom, but the McDonalds seemed fairly well-run.

At 6pm the march had got to within a block of our Formule 1 hotel, so we split. Tomorrow the scheduled events start, but they seem to be mostly scheduled for the 3pm-6pm time slot.

Doing *anything* during the rain (especially anything involving paper and most especially the flimsy newsprint on which our programmacão is printed) seems like it will be a mistake. Time to carefully pick the sessions we attend, I think, and prioritise the morning ones.

First thing will be to try to stake out the UFPA and UFRA campuses and work out what will happen where. That will be tomorrow morning’s adventure.

(Also tomorrow morning my spare pants should come back from the lavanderia, which will be cause for rejoicing.)

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