It’s been a tough summer in my home city, São Paulo, one of record-high temperatures, critically low water levels in the city’s reservoirs and power shortages. Not to mention the occasional street protest against rising public-transport fares.
I was back home recently for a three-week stay and enjoying the southern hemisphere’s December-to-March heat but it wasn’t easy; some commentators have described it as the “summer of hell”. However, let’s also remember that hyperbole is not an uncommon trait when it comes to my fellow Brazilians. And as an eternal optimist I have one plea to my countrymen: don’t fall out of love with the season that embodies our nation.
In Brazil it’s still the time of year in which you can grab an ice-cold chopp (a beer served in a tall glass) after work at an open-air bar. In São Paulo I always head to favourites in the Vila Madalena neighbourhood, with its charming narrow streets that are excellent for people watching.
Summer is also good business for the country. Carnival season starts in only two weeks and it is predicted that this year tourists nationwide will spend eight per cent more than during the same period last year. 2015 has the potential to be a record breaker when it comes to tourism.
But many of my friends tell me they would exchange the blistering Brazilian heat in a heartbeat for the chillier, more forgiving climate of northern Europe, where I live. I think to myself, “How short sighted you've become?” How can they swap those beautiful long evenings, that beautiful sunset and ice-lollies on the beach for the dark, depressing winter in Europe – where night falls by 16.00?
In a recent article, journalist Mariliz Pereira Jorge wrote about the delights of our Brazilian summer. She lamented how people have become preoccupied lately with how much factor-100 sunblock they should apply to their already sun-starved bodies, or how they’ve become obsessed with wearing sensible clothes on the beach. This has turned the season in which we should all be relaxing into one in which we are gripped by paranoia.
It would be a dark day indeed if Brazil fell out of love with the summer. One of the beautiful things about the season back home is that there are no rules: no one bats an eyelid at seeing an 85-year-old running on the beach in nothing more than Speedos. This laidback attitude is why it’s my favourite time of the year.
Summer 2015 in Brazil is not over yet, so let me take the opportunity to remind you, my fellow Brazilians, to make the most of it before temperatures cool and winter arrives, bringing with it clouds, wind and chills.
Maybe it’s only once Brazilians are wrapping up to avoid the rain and cold that they’ll realise exactly how good they have had it. And excuse my hyperbole but no matter how gruelling the heat is, the Brazilian summer will always be magical to me.
Fernando Augusto Pacheco is a researcher for Monocle 24.