I love rainy season for so many reasons. For one, all bets are off. Staying inside all day and expecting zero human interruptions is perfectly acceptable. For another, I love the sound of the rain on my tin roof. Also, my gardens are being watered and buckets are being filled with no effort on my part. It’s just wonderful, the lazy person’s dream.
But sometimes, even during rainy season, some amount of responsibility is still expected of you. Like going to teach your classes at school. Rainy season isn’t like the rain in the Pacific Northwest, which is a constant rain with no end in sight. Malawi rainy season involves huge amounts of water hurled from the heavens above for about an hour tops, then a respite, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to hours to days. You can see the storms coming from miles away. Usually they’re blown in from the east, over the lake and pushed through the mountains. You can watch the clouds rolling in and swallowing up the hills as they go, turning the sky white, then gray, then black. It’s one of my favorite things to do here, watching the storms come in, trying to read the sky.
Sometimes they come in really fast though, and all of a sudden they’re on top of you. You can usually gauge how much time you have to find cover by how fast the first wave of darker white clouds obscure the cell tower down at the market. It’s a fun game, really. Today I had about 5 minutes and a kilometer to go to get to school before I was completely destroyed by a massive black hole of a storm. It was not at all my first storm here I’ve tried to outrun. You’ll often find yourself miscalculating and taking refuge, soaked to the skin, in an abandoned half-roofed building with a pile of other Malawians (usually kids) who have likewise miscalculated. Today, my adrenaline rose along with wind and the speed of the oncoming deluge as Doug and I raced the storm cloud to school. We arrived just in time, me drenched with sweat instead of rain, as the buckets began to pour. Success!
I’m reading this book right now, Poisonwood Bible, about a missionary family in the Congo during the 60s. It describes rainy season from the point of view of one of the young daughters:
“When the rainy season fell on us in Kilanga, it fell like a plague. We were warned to expect rain in October, but at the close of July – surprising no one in Kilanga but ourselves – the serene heavens above began to dump buckets. It rained pitchforks, as Mother says. It rained cats and dogs frogs bogs then it rained snakes and lizards. A pestilence of rain we received, the likes of which we had never seen or dreamed about in Georgia.”
…Just how I like it!