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Thursday, 13 January 2011

A sad Anniversary

It’s exactly a year since I was in Teresópolis  ( see Back in Brazil again) and I was saddened to discover this morning that it had been badly hit by the floods in Brazil, with over 100 people dead. It’s hard to get one’s head around the fact that torrential rains can flood a place that is 2,800 feet above sea level, even though I’m well aware of the number of rivers in the vicinity and in fact have experienced heavy rainfall and rising rivers in that region first hand.

A few years ago we were travelling back to Rio de Janeiro after a week spent exploring in Minas Gerais. It started to rain and within a few minutes it was falling so heavily that we had to pull off the road and stop, as visibility was down to about ten feet. We sat in the car and watched as great chutes of churning, mud-coloured water began to burst from the banks at the sides of the road and gush down the highway, carrying all manner of detritus before them. Fortunately the rain eased back to a less terrifying level after about twenty minutes, and we were able to proceed – somewhat cautiously – on our way. Never-the-less, the rain continued to fall heavily and steadily for the next three hours and we drove past several rivers whose waters were lapping over their banks, and it became clear to us that we were not likely to make it to Rio that night.

We ended up in the vilest hotel it has ever been my misfortune to stay in, in the town of Petrópolis, which is quite near Teresópolis and has much to recommend it, although the Hotel Girassol definitely does not fall in to that category. But that’s a tale for another day.

For those of you who wish to know more about the floods you can check out the BBC report here.