The voice has meaning independently of what it says.

— Roland Barthes


In São Paulo, Brazil, where I traveled for an extended business trip, the dense humidity in the air gathered itself together each afternoon and concocted a fast, crackling thunderstorm that dropped curtains of rain on the hilly streets. Torrents of water rushed down the gutters, bags of garbage surfing by like small hovercrafts. People huddled under awnings and in doorways to wait out the storm. A half-hour later, when the squall had exhausted itself, the air smelled clean and sweet, and the streets steamed, cool water kissing hot tar.