Desperate for some action, I have been forced into the sewers. Not the nice clean stormwater drains, but the grimy, smelly, shit-crusted sewers that underlie the older neighbourhoods of the city. The Assiar is one of many such pipes, and I thought it fortunate enough that I managed to locate an entrance to it, and to have a day off that coincided with a nice low tide.
I'll spare the entry details and just get to the gritty descriptions. The outfall for this drain is very well hidden- both by its out of the way location and by the tides. Although it is completely hidden at high tide, when the water's low a squat, rectangular pipe is revealed, encrusted with millions of barnacles. Into this we went, crouched over and walking on rough concrete. To my delight, we spotted many starfish also clinging to the concrete; well camouflaged by their dark purple colouring. A bigger feature lay just ahead- the rectangular box opened into a tall room, and rusty stepirons crept up the wall into a large horseshoe-shaped pipe!
Wasting no time, we headed into the new darkness. The path under our booted feet was made of slick red bricks, with only a trickle of water in the invert. The air between the curved concrete walls was most foul; a moist cloud, reeking of sewage, would periodically waft down the pipe toward my wrinkled nose. We walked up this pipe a short distance, and it curved around, bringing us closer to the roaring sound of rushing water.
We arrived at a junction that smelled of warm, wet sewage. A small brick wall, about a metre in height, kept a flowing stream from entering the pipe we were in. The sewage stream, emerging from an identical pipe, ran through a trash-encrusted grate and down into a hole in the floor. Untreated wastewater- greyish liquid a few inches deep, with the occasional chunk- headed down and out to the harbour. The smell was terrible, and nasty bits and lumps floated downstream. Curiosity as to what lay upstream was the only motivation to dip my boots into the sewage, and with some hesitation we kept walking.
The bricks underneath the wastewater were coated with a layer of slime, and thus incredibly slippery; walking upstream was done slowly and very carefully. Better to take some time than to fall! I was also a little worried about the quality of the air. Hot diarrhea with a hint of garlic is a good way of describing the smell, and it seemed to be getting stronger the further we went. The air was very humid, and I'm sure we were breathing unhealthy amounts of sewage mist. A hundred meters or so later the pipe began to curve to the right, and a new rushing sound could be heard ahead. My eyes felt like they were tingling, and apparently so were Nancy Drew's. A bad sign, perhaps- but the pipe seemed interesting, and what of the mysterious sounds ahead? Surely there was some interesting structure, and probably more brick pipe, and undoubtedly more poop. After only a dozen steps further, I smelled something in the air that just didn't seem right. Spooked, we hastily retreated as best we could over the slippery bricks back down the pipe.
Being on the surface afterwards felt so good, even though my clothes gave off a familiar stale sewer odour.