Tuesday, 21 May 2024
Winds and Rain: Weathering Perspectives from an Anthropologist in Croatia, Mexico and Portugal All Photos - Alejandra Gotóo

Winds and Rain: Weathering Perspectives from an Anthropologist in Croatia, Mexico and Portugal

Written by  Alejandra Gotóo Feb 28, 2024

Rainy days are quite a challenge when you are used to sunny days. I was unaware of how blessed I was with Mexico City’s weather. Most days, you can do anything you want outside without worrying about the rain, the cold, the thunder, the wind, or any weather issue. In Zadar, I learned that wind could be much stronger than I was used to; I met the Bura and the Jugo, both mighty. There, I learned to be more deferential towards the winds. The Croatia winter was a real thing, unlike the Mexican one, so humble compared to the actual cold days.

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Now I am in sunny Lisbon, and guess what? It is not as sunny as expected. For the most part, it is sunny, but it is also very coastal-like, so there is lots of drizzle. This gets slightly annoying when planning to walk or do outside activities. My tiny problem is again the wind. It is not the respected Bura but a nameless wind that joins the drizzle and makes it cold.

I wonder why people here have not named their giant. I miss the Bura because it was cold, but usually, it came by himself. He did not need any companions to be worth respecting. In Portugal, so far, the wind works together with the rain to make it hard to be outside. It is like the Bura is a grown-up, and the wind and rain in Lisbon are just young siblings. It reminds me of the idea that the American continent is the new world and a lesser one.

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Let us think about Corneille de Paw and Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon's ideas. These scientific men suggested that the new land was a place where everything was degraded, denigrated, and impoverished. Buffon stated that America did not have big animals because the weather made them smaller. He tried to prove the supremacy of Europe by stating that there were bigger animals, such as elephants. Yeah. He stated that even though elephants are not from Europe. Anyhow, he also stated that fruits are rotten in America and that the inhabitants eat them like that. It is worth mentioning that he stated this because he saw tomatoes, which were in pretty bad conditions after the trip by ship and months in the sea… Yet, both of these scientific men, on whom some eugenic ideas were later based, did not visit America. They created their opinions based on some narratives and impressions from captains and missionaries.

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These men thought America was a lesser place because the weather, fruits, animals, and people were smaller. It makes sense if we believe in the metaphorical judgment of older equals mature and younger means easygoing, softer, innocent, smaller, etc. These men failed to see that America’s supposed failures were also a consequence of the fruitful and comfortable weather and life conditions in the land. Smaller could be worse, but it is not necessary such.

Perhaps comparing is a slippery slope. I have caught myself doing it at the start of this article while trying to give you a perspective of the wind in Lisbon, and I wrote: “ the wind and rain in Lisbon are just young siblings.”

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It could only mean smaller, but it also has more connotations that might not express my thoughts. Yet, we cannot try to convey an idea to others if they do not share the same background knowledge, or even if they do. To understand each other ideas, we need to refer to comparisons. It is easier to create connections in our minds by creating a relation between something already known and a new idea, concept, word, etc. So, I wonder, is it possible to deprive words of their cultural meaning? Would it be useful? To understand one another, we require words, but words might bear hidden meanings to the author or audience.

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How to improve? Would it even be an improvement to be able to describe something without judgment? I guess so far, words seldom are without an angle. As such, they say much more than their meanings; they give us insight into the author’s mind. So, thanks for reading, and sorry if my mind is a little bit too chaotic. I am. And I have so many thoughts rambling when my own conceptions prevent me from taking a walk on my idea of comfortable (or familiar) weather. Perhaps we are under our thoughts, and being free means challenging ourselves and doubting our assumptions. The challenge might not be the weather but my approach to it. Could we agree on this one? If you see the Bura, say hi!

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Alejandra Gotóo (Mexico City, 1991) writes to explain herself the world where she inhabits. Her work has been published in Spain, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Croatia. She holds a master's degree in Social Anthropology and a bachelor's degree in English Literature. Nowadays, she is a columnist in Dubrovnik Times. She has two published novels, Ruptura and Isadore or Absolute Love. Her topics of interest include nature, adventure, language, books, food, culture, animals, conservation, and women's rights. She also writes in her blog: Cardinal Humours.

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