The return of the waters of March to Rio de Janeiro's coast line have inspired me to revitalize this blog named after the classic Tom Jobim tune. As another carnival comes to an end, rhinestone-embellished costumes and two-tier sound trucks are put into storage. Drunken tourists flock back to their nests and drunken cariocas recover from the massive hangover with a city full of trash.
Carnival has always been a dirty holiday. For five days, millions of revelers cram into Rio's neighborhoods chasing street parties or blocos and leaving a trail of beer cans and costume appendages and streams of public urination behind. By the time Fat Tuesday rolls around the city stinks, especially near the beach. The humidity, the trash and the pee smell create a dank odor that can only be described by words not appropriate for print (or blog).
This year, both the odor and rubbish got worse as some of the city's orange-clad trash collectors (known as garis) declared a strike. Their demands include weekend overtime, a $3 (R$8) increase to their food vouchers and an $175 (roughly R$400) annual salary increase.
The strike is now in its 7th day and Rio is buried under a sea of trash. In some areas, entire sidewalks have been obstructed forcing pedestrians into ongoing traffic. Some people, like Alexandre, have taken the matter into their own hands as shown by www.realrioblog.com author Julia Michaels.
During the past five years, Rio has hosted a series of major events, including World Youth Day, the Rock in Rio music festival and the Rio + 20 conference on climate change in addition to the annual carnival and the city's world-reknown New Year's eve celebration. This year, it will be the site of several World Cup matches, including the final.
This influx of people increases waste. As the city commits to more and more of these major international events, the trash collectors continue to get their hands dirty and work weekends and unreasonable hours.
The accumulation of trash doesn't only bring a foul smell, it increases the chance of disease and vermin. Rio's geography and terrible drainage system also makes the city susceptible. This week's forecast shows a high chance of rain. If the summer showers drag the piles of debris into the city's manholes, there will be flooding. It will create chaos and collapse the city's arteries with traffic.
We need to put an end to this rubbish, give the garis what they want Mr. Mayor.