Tough Time In Manaus: The Dry Season

Mario Cohn-Haft - November 4, 1997

    As you can imagine, with the electricity cuts, all other services suffer too. Many stores, offices, suppliers and such only function when the electricity is on, which may be a small proportion of their normal working day and smaller still proportion of the times when you can actually use them. Electronic equipment all over town burns out when the energy comes back on with a spike of excess, and a few houses in our neighborhood have burned down because of this. The phone works even when the lights go out, but the service has suffered all sorts of setbacks. When I have electricity at home and can contact the INPA computer by modem for email, often the system there is without energy and vice versa.

Feels like a perfect time to get out of town and into the woods. Right? However, even if I didn’t have a number of writing project deadlines to meet (impossible given the number of functional hours available per day), getting to the field wouldn’t be so straightforward. As I’ve mentioned, most boat traffic is either stopped or grinding to a halt. A smaller number of places are accessible by plane, but much of the time the air is too smoky to land. That leaves car, which only goes to a few spots close by and requires an element of courage verging on lunacy. So it’s a catch-22. I never thought I’d be so eager for the start of the rainy season.

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