Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Surviving the Heat

The season of swamp ass and swenis has returned to Rio de Janeiro. I always joke about how people run around half naked and I know all you non-Rio de Janeiro residents fantasize about it. Sadly the day has come where I have to break down the ugly truth of it all.

It is necessary for survival. It gets really freaking hot and humid down here. I'm already hearing some of you who live in the Southern States of the US claiming that you know how it is. Yeah, I have to disagree with you. Just like charm, Brazil has one upped you in heat.

Seriously, my least favorite part is the sweat that drips down the back of your legs. It's a dampness like you are wetting yourself and it just doesn't stop. There really isn't much you can do about it either. While you can spend a fair amount of time in the ocean, under a shower, or in a pool drinking beer, you eventually have to go somewhere to eat or urinate.

Then there's the smell. I am especially thankful for Brazilian's extensive culinary use of garlic and onion during the summer. It just smells so yummy coming out of the pores of all the sweaty people smashed up against you on the subway. Yum, just makes me want to find the nearest Churrascaria.

Though I do have a secret for a successfully survived summer in Rio de Janeiro. Want to know?

1. Get to the beach early! That means parking at 8am, no later. Better yet if you can get there at 730am. First off it's already hot and sunny at that time but at a level that is still enjoyable. Secondly you still have options as to where you can sit on the beach. Come 10am it's slim pickings. After 1230pm it's like a freaking Carnaval Bloco (street party).

2. Ideally either go out to eat or have something prepared from earlier for lunch. It's a bitch to cook after being sapped of all your energy at the beach. Plus a hot stove top at noon sucks.

3. Siesta until 4am. In air conditioning if possible, at the very least good ceiling fans.

4. Beer. It just quenches that thirst you get while sitting in the shade on a hot day surrounded by sweaty bodies. It fits like glaze on a doughnut.

5. Showers and a change of clothes. We do it often down here. Trust me, it's the way to go at least 3 times a day my friend.

Now I'm going to go and hose myself off, turn on the fan and take a 30 minute cat nap. You?


  1. Are you sure you know what it's like in New Jersey during the summer? It was over 100 degrees here for most of the summer, 90 percent humidity and soupy as hell.

    Northeastern Summers are something from another planet. And I like hot weather. Usually 100 does not bother me, but when the heat index is like 135 (we got that hot more than the amount of times I can count on my fingers) it gets just freaking ridiculous. When I went to Hawaii in August I was cold because I was already used to triple digit temps here. And it was 85-90 in Hawaii.

    I think I can handle Rio without question!

  2. Actually, I have spent two summers in New Jersey. Hate those freaking beetles that fly around.

    You do have a point there though. I think you'll be ok.

  3. Oh my, that picture is gonna give me nightmares!!!

    Thanks for reminding me of my former life in Dubai! What I'd do to be near a beach right now!!!

  4. That's so funny! What were you doing in this god forsaken place? And yes, beetles the size of your face fly and crawl all over you. As well as beetles of other smaller sizes.

    I think tropical latitudes are just more "mild" in their extremes, if you know what I mean. Here 135 in the summer and 15 in the winter. We get 2 weeks a year of bearable weather, and not in one shot either.

    Whats the weather like today in hiw?

  5. "Now I'm going to go and hose myself off, turn on the fan and take a 30 minute cat nap. You?"

    -Me? Oh, I guess I'll continue working for another 3 hours in this stinky office :(

    On the subject of hot summers, I've only had one summer here so far but I've got to say I wasn't that impressed. Sure it was hot, but the Cariocas seemed to use it like a threat against me during Spring: "Just you wait til December and January". Well do you know, what? I quite liked it actually. Not trying to sound tough (well, maybe a little) but bring it on Brazil, do your worst! ;)

  6. Rachel,

    I think Alex has a point, summers in some parts of the US are really, really hot. Texas and Florida were literally unbearable without an A/C, it was a matter of life or death, that is why everyone has it. Gil tells me Toronto also has an awful hot summer, much hotter than anywhere we have ever been in Brazil, because of the opressive humidity from Ontario Lake, clouds of mosquitos the size of small bird. The worse is the lack of breeze in Toronto and New York in the middle of the summer.
    I also thought London was too hot in the summer and no cool breeze like we usually get on the beach.
    Rio has a nice cool breeze near the Ocean as so does the Northeast of Brazil.
    Actually, Rio and the Northeast of Brazil can be dangerous for sun exposure, because the cool breeze fools you and you don't realize how bad you are getting sun burned...:)
    I agree with you Rachel, 3 showers a day, beer, caipirinha, pool, a/c and good ceiling fans make for a great summer.
    New England summers are cool if you live near the Ocean, but anywhere inland is really hot
    and nobody has Air Conditioning around here and the mosquitos will literally take you away into the woods if you are not tied down really good.:)
    Sao Paulo rarely ever get's above 100 degrees.


  7. I don't get people who take their vacations during "summer". The key is to get to work earlier and spend the whole afternoon in an office with AC. Leave in the evening when things are still hot but bareable and avoid the kitchen at all costs.

  8. Out here in the middle of the Rainforest it is swamp ass season year round. We do a lot of showering and laying on the tile floors. And that's just in the Lojas Americanas! Haha. JK.

    They seem to think tiny urine sample cups of hot tea or coffee drunk throughout the day help. I'm not sure if it makes me cooler or hotter, or neither.

    We also bought AC for the language school and our bedroom, although the electricity costs are exorbitant. We mostly pray for rain....which helps bring it down a notch for a little bit (sometimes).

    (It does remind me of Washington DC/ Maryland in the summer)

  9. Jennifer, you took the comment right from my fingertips! I'm in Rio Branco and...well...I tell my family back home that that although the season "changes" the weather is perpetual hades! lol.

    As Rachel said, I've grown accustomed to beer (lots!) and frequent showers! Never knew I could take so many showers in one day!

  10. A cool tip (no pun intended): when you are really warming up start sprinkling cold water behind your neck, on your wrist and if possible over your feet, sprinkle until you start cooling down. If you are home it is even better since you can use a hand towel to apply the cold water to neck and wrist.
    This is a decent alternative to taking many showers.
    On a more creative note I wonder if it would be possible to make a shoe with a sole than can store a cooling device and hence keep a person cool while he or she is on the move. Imagine if the sole was transparent and ice cubes could be stored frozen down there. Tacky looking or awesome? Well, regardless, I claim copyright.

  11. Rachel I'm jealous of you living on the coast and can go in the beaches, I live here in interior and only have rivers and dams, and year-round temperature between 25ºC~33ºC

  12. Eight years in Rio, Seattle native, and I have never even once turned on an air conditioner here. Not that I don't pause in front of the bookstore on Piraja in Ipanema, doors wide open and doing its best to air condition the entire nation, but after one season I very fortunately grew accustomed to the heat.
    You know you are heat tolerant once you have to wear a sweater at 21c/72f.

    The suggestion by Gritty Poet is a good one, cool water or a damp rag after 15 minutes in the freezer placed at the base of your neck cools you more than any air conditioner or cold shower. Or, just hold that cold can of beer at the base of your neck for 20 seconds before opening it! I also live on acai com morango all Summer.

    I had a pool, it got so hot in Summer it could have been used for cooking. Useless.

  13. We never had air conditioning before we had kids, and the first one was only in our oldest's bedroom. I just felt bad for him all sweaty in there!

    I know other places are hotter and I am very thankful for having the beach so close. I do wish, however, that I wasn't such a sweater! I swear I wasn't so bad in my country but here I sweat like a 300 kilo man covered in Crisco...

  14. When we first arrived it drove me crazy that my MIL was cooking lunch at 7:00 in the morning. It made for a crowded kitchen when all I wanted was some coffee. But before long I figured it out...

  15. Hello Miami! We have summers 'nearly' on par with Rio. I say nearly because it's not quite as hot (actually further north in Florida is hotter) because of the Gulf Stream. But the unrelenting sun and humidity? BRUTAL. I dream about Seattle summers and moving to places with temperate climates. This dreaming lasts from April - October after which tolerable temperatures arrive. THANK GOD!

  16. Nike- Get a hold of me! An American so close is too exciting for me!!!