Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hot Birthday

Yesterday it was my birthday. And I can say it was as hot as it can be! Not in the sense we would expect a birthday to be...

Several hills around Viana were on fire. One of the fires was close to my sister’s apartment in Viana. Naturally they were very stressed, so around 1 am I chose to interupt a very nice dinner with some friends and go there to be with them. Diogo gave me a ride and what we found was a real Dante's scenario! The fire was close to the houses and buildings on the other side of the street.

I joined my family on the terrace of the apartment on the top of the building (from where the photos were taken). They were exhausted has they had been helping out to clean the woods around the endangered houses during all the afternoon and now where staring at the fire, just hoping that the firemen could handle it.

On the street there were dozens of people staring!

After a while we got more restless and I decided to go closer to see what could be done. From another side, a new fire was coming down the hill, therefore some people decided to clean the woods around a house that became endangered.

The choice between staying with the ones staring or joining the ones helping out was easy! It was amazing how much and how quickly we could gather wood close to the house and bring it down to the road. Appearing from nowhere there were tools, saws, etc, while the firemen co-ordinated the efforts. After this some of us helped to carry the hundreds of meters of fire hose needed for the firemen to go up the mountain to fight the increasing fire.

I don’t know how much time I stood by the water tanks, wondering how they were doing and what I could do. Finally I got the excuse I needed (and that I believe I wanted, even without acknowledging it) to go up: they needed bottles of drinking water.

I followed one of the guys up. Close to it, the fire didn’t look so scary. The calm of the firemen while fighting it was reassuring. They were creating counter-fires (I don’t know if this is the correct translation for the Portuguese “contra-fogo”), letting it burn in a controlled way, while from behind they were watering the flames and burning ashes, to cool them down.

I stood there, watching, trying to understand their methods, admiring their calm and waiting for the instructions to pull up or down the fire hose, so that it would stay stretched, while they moved up and down, watering the fire.

It was not much, but it was enough for me: I felt thrilled to help out and to be so close to the action. And, most of all I felt honoured to be co-operating with these guys and ashamed for all the people staring without doing anything.

I learned within civil society organisations that we all should try to be actors in our society instead of being just spectators! But it seems that a lot of people just love popcorn…

3 Comments:

Anonymous homemDASneves said...

mas em que parte de Viana estas tu? eu parto na terça para ponteDElima, mas n e p ferias.

12:06 AM  
Blogger Pedro said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Pedro said...

Deves querer saber se estou em Viana city ou arredores: Viana city!
Mas parto hoje para a Capital do Império, como tu lhe chamas :-)

4:30 PM  

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