I woke up this morning, looked out the window and thought to myself, damn – it’s going to be a rainy day today. There was a thick haze covering the sky and although I could almost make out the shape of the sun, (it couldn’t be, could it?) it was too masked in a gray puff of, what is that – cloud?
I pulled on a light cardigan and Fatima and I headed out the door to walk to the Colectivo (bus). Her car has been acting up the last month or so, so whenever we drive to the office I climb through the driver’s side door to sit in the passenger seat. And sometimes the doors that work and don’t work change so it’s a little game we play every morning to determine how we’re going to enter the car, and what might break next!
Anyway, on our walk I asked Fatima if we were doomed to a rainy day, (she is a biologist after all, she knows these things!) and she told me that we were, in fact, NOT in for a rainy day. This was a seasonal haze that comes through every August and September, along with the apparent windy season, (who know there was a specific season of heavy winds in Paraguay?) Why would August and September be known for gloomy, dark, and hazy days, you might wonder? From burning fields in the Campo, of course!
At the end of the (winter) season, there is an overload of field burning that occurs outside of Asuncion to refresh the crops. It’s an antiquated technique that has long since proven to be more destructive than positive, but old habits die hard – eh? This is also the main reason that South American countries are equally as responsible for destroying our Earth’s atmosphere as the northern hemisphere, (who do it by electricity and overloading on creature comforts.) They believe that as long as it’s “controlled” or if it occurs after a rain that little damage will be done, but boy are they wrong!
The thick smog is transported from the Campo and finds itself a cozy home resting over Asuncion for a month or two. Those of us living in the city cough and sputter, just like the old buses we ride in, until you can literally feel yourself inhaling plumes from up above. I’ve also been told about one particularly bad season last year where the smog was so thick there was actually black rain over the city!! Here’s a low-quality video of the rain in case you don’t believe it, (I almost didn’t):
Here’s to hoping we don’t have a repeat of past mistakes this year!