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  • Writer's pictureMiguel Fernández

Asunción, Paraguay, solteros, 1972

The 13th congress of AIDIS (Asociación Interamericana de Ingenieria Sanitária) was held in Asunción, Paraguay, in August 1972. As it is biannual, I realize that our association has existed since 1946. Let there be tradition! Going to an international congress of your profession is an attractive and interesting objective, especially for recent graduates. The problem is the costs. At the time, São Paulo had a daring Basic Sanitation program, both in terms of the amount and the institutional organization envisaged: >> there was COMASP, to produce treated water on a wholesale basis and supply it to the municipalities of the RMSP and which built the Guaraú system (+33m3/s!) and the SAM -Sistema Adutor Metropolitano), >> there was SANESP (ditto COMASP, macro for wholesale sewage), >> there was the SBS, the FESB, the DAE, anyway... today all together at SABESP. There were many recent graduates, like me, and in this “young guard”, many female engineers. This is noteworthy because until then engineering had little female presence.


Among them, three dear and competent colleagues from SANESP: Lúcia, Ana, and Cecília. To go to this congress in Asunción, they imagined a group in two cars (at the time it meant two “Vets”), 3 people in each car, as an economical way to share expenses, with space for luggage. They incorporated two friends from the field of medicine: Maria and Glória. But at the time there were only women out there, it was still complicated. Our colleague from COMASP, Gaspar, was invited to go with them and accepted the “sacrifice” of being the man of the group. Six young singles, in their prime, 5 women. I went in another car one day ahead of them and we arrived at Foz do Iguaçu. What I am going to tell you is what I witnessed and what the protagonists told me. To get to Asunción there were at least two overnight stays on the way and Foz required a stop for the whole day. The group of six, for reasons of economy, stayed overnight in double rooms, Gaspar taking turns with the girls so as not to characterize “harassment”. Everything went well, they all left, came back and remained friends. Years later, Cecília (a Nisei who unfortunately is no longer with us), certainly the most extroverted of the six, joked that Gaspar did not fulfill his duties well in that rotation, referring to one of the group's colleagues who came out of the closet, but there are other stories that cannot be written. But you can laugh a lot.


Incidentally, there is a lack of a paper or a master's thesis to explain why congresses are considered so, let's say, aphrodisiacs. On the very first day, the news circulated that close to the Hotel Guarany (where the congress was held) there was a concert hall with good musicians (a highlight for the Paraguayan harps) with the highlight being an unmissable striptease “show”, of which participated in a large snake that wrapped itself around the stripper. It was so successful that you had to buy tickets in advance. Contributing to the success of the “house” were the, shall we say, non-conventional services available. It was a spacious place, all in “twilight” with a few more illuminated steps leading down to the salon, good facilities, air conditioning (at the time almost a luxury), “legitimate” whiskey (no one complained of headaches). head), that is, it was circulated that the cost-benefit ratio was worth the trip. The announcer who speaks to you couldn't resist and got a ticket for the third day, I believe.


The five colleagues got excited and also wanted to go see what it was like. Gaspar's intuition made him refuse to accompany them in that “den” that we haven't even seen yet. So we went in a group of four just from COMASP (the other two if I'm not mistaken were Gabriel and Paulo). Upon entering, despite the dim lighting, I saw that I already knew, at least by sight, more than half of those present there. Among the congressmen, in addition to singles and married couples, there were many unaccompanied married couples. The enclosure was packed. Each table for four had 6 people, invariably one or more ladies intruding. In fact, I believe that out of every 10 men who go to these places, 8 don't do anything for the most diverse reasons (some for loyalty, others for fear of illness, the cost, anyway...). But 120% say they did crazy things. In all congresses (other texts will come) wild stories circulate, some true others not so much, but very interesting.


Anyway, we were there in the greatest animation waiting for the big show while some go-go girls undressed dancing around vertical tubes with which they held on in masterful demonstrations that the tubes are not only used to distribute water as they teach in the hydraulics chair. There's nothing like a congress to learn about materials, equipment and how to handle them! Suddenly, the five companions and a boy appear on the entrance steps. We were startled because we thought they would come to our table because of Gaspar. But they sat at another table with the man who accompanied them and stayed there. The show was announced soon and I decided to go to the bathroom preemptively. When I entered, the room, although large, was congested with many Brazilians “refugees” there and a general annoyance with people wanting to beat up Gaspar: ”_ that son of a bitch, bringing the girls here! They know our women....”. They thought the person accompanying them was Gaspar. Matter clarified but did not solve the impasse with the refugee class in the bathroom.


They were accompanied by the later famous engineer Manuel Botelho, (author of the book “Concreto Armado Eu Te Amo”, among others). After some confabulations (local security had to mediate and help with the argument), Botelho and his companions committed to leaving before turning the lights back on (and they did).


The show was great, meeting everyone's expectations. I remember the soundtrack and the night at the hotel well. I think everyone remembers. In time: I was single too. Miguel Fernández y Fernández, consulting engineer and columnist Written in Jul 2017, 5,968 “touches”

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