chapter  6
26 Pages

WHAT IT BECOMES

In Recife, like in many tropical cities, dust, sweat, and humidity mingle in a soundless force that sometimes feels like another element of na­ ture. Dust carried by ocean wind and river breezes is kept in motion by an army of buses disgorging brown plumes of exhaust. Dust and bus smog settle across everything in a fine grey gauze, which sweat con­ geals into a thin gel on the neck and forehead and in the creases where limbs bend. Humidity adds a sense of suffocation, not just of one’s breath but of the skin itself. Rain is no relief, only making sweat bead and trickle faster, and giving the dust a mudlike quality that stains buildings as it streaks windows and eyeglasses.