RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It is time to batten down the hatches, or as some would say in the U.S., button down the hatches – never being sticklers for formal details. According to Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, the phrase means “to prepare to meet an emergency.” After seeing the global and Brazilian stock market nose-dive, London in chaos, and Rio public buses under assault, it feels like the sky is falling.
Even in difficult times, idioms are great, and in case anyone is wondering the literal meaning of batten down the hatches is “to cover a ship’s hatches with tarpaulins held in place by battens.” A batten is a piece of wood or metal used on a ship to hold a sail or tarp in place over a hatch. In other words, get ready, and hold on tight for rough waters.
For many of us watching the cost of living in Brazil blaze, the idea of some market correction is not unwelcome. But there is nothing good about world markets losing value, and it seems a sure sign of harder days to come.
If they understand Portuguese, they are also watching the bus hijacking and robbery by four armed attackers last night in Centro on Avenida Presidente Vargas, leaving five victims shot, plus a bad guy.
This is reminding everyone of the famous Bus 174, a tragic event in 2000 that caught world attention and was made into a compelling documentary film. This new bus attack seems more motivated by thievery, a sign of brazen desperation.
To make matters worse, London is burning! A big part of our community of expatriates here in Rio are British of course, and this trouble back home is unnerving to say the least. It is also relevant to Cariocas as the upcoming London Olympics will pass the torch to Rio in 2016, a role model of sorts.
But as history shows us, all storms pass, and sometimes all we can do is batten, and button, down the hatches for better days.