Pictures from Senegal

Wednesday, September 29

A Case of the Rains

Every few hours I take a pause in what I’m doing to realize that it’s raining yet again. I ponder how the weather happenings of rain affect my life these days when compared to once upon an American time.

When it rains, I am happy. I think the sky is amazingly beautiful. In Michigan, I love sitting on the couch in the living room watching the rain drops drizzle down the window. If I had somewhere to be, it was an excuse to break out fashionable trench coats, rain boots, and patterned umbrellas. I’d sport these items as I dashed through the rain to the office building or lunch dates. I’d laugh and shake off the residual drops when I got there. “It’s really coming down out there.” If it rained on the weekends, I’d have to turn up the volume of whatever trashy movie I watched in order to hear over the sounds of the storm. I’d do laundry so the smell from the dryer would float through the house like potpourri. The radiating heat from just removed dryer cloths warms my hands against the cold. It was an excuse to make soup and drink it from an enlarged coffee mug, or to make hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows, or my all-time favorite… hot apple cider.

But alas, things are (par normal) dramatically different here in Africa. The sky is still beautiful… maybe more so thanks to the 9 months of clear blue cloudless span my eyes have been brainwashed with before the rainy season hit. A welcome change to see dark- almost tormented looking- motion filed billows. The crack of thunder still excites me, but after that the rest of the sentiment is lost.

When it rains, everything comes to a halt starting with the electricity in other areas of town. There is no work to be done; no meeting that isn’t automatically cancelled (potentially rescheduled for later?). The people are traditionally scared of the water because with it brings a buffet of illness doled out like as if you’ve ignored the “enter at your own risk” sign. One caught out and about when the rain starts is expected to wait (bored out of one’s mind) until the weather changes before making an exit. I’ve started carrying a scarf around for light rains because I’d prefer to trudge it through these back to the house. But for the heavier stuff, I carry book of Sudoku puzzles in my purse so I’ll at least be entertained during my detainment.

If it rains too hard the metal slats used for my bedroom’s roofing will leak in various places, thus causing me to do a funny little shuffle around my room to avoid the collection buckets. If it’s really blowing hard I’ll have to close my windows to save my bed from a good soaking with stray flying water bullets. The rest of the house is also littered with collection buckets and if there’s too much thunder and lightning for comfort, the power gets shut off to our “always on” neighborhood so as to avoid accidental electrocutions. I would now argue this to be better than the brown out that has recently fried our house computer leaving us all without internet.

Laundry is obviously out of the question as things will never dry if I can’t even keep my own room from raining on top of me. This point is mute though as there’s so much humidity during the rainy season that nothing really has a chance to dry between storms. And I’ve never seen a dryer in this country. Therefore, I’ll wear the same articles of clothing a few days in a row before throwing it into the ever growing pile of laundry, thus marking this one and only time I’ve been glad I brought so many damn cloths here.

This past week I was in Thies for a few days. While out and about a thunderstorm opened up upon us, and we took refuge at one of our favorite water holes sipping on cold beers. A few hours past and the torrential pouring turned into a mere sprinkle before we decided to venture back. Out in the street we discovered just how serious the drainage problem was in the city. We found ourselves wading through the thigh high floods to get to an area of town where the water was low enough to find a taxi with the bravado to take us on. With all the horrid things we saw floating past during our brief swim; it was all I could do to not actually run to the shower upon return to home base.

That being my lowest rainy point, I do have to admit that there are positives to a good showering. Excessive heat does seem to be avoided, if only temporarily. My eyes and skin receive a welcome rest from the glaring sun. And my brain gets an hour or so off from its bilingual lifestyle while I get a chance to catch up on my reserve stock of trashy movies. Yes, I still have to the turn the volume way up to be able to hear it. I also take the opportunity to make some of the tea I’ve purchased in western world fruit flavors. There may not be any fashionable accessories, mini marshmallows, or progress in work activities, but it’s not entirely unpleasant either.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alys,

    hope that you got my message on the books? My skin is a bit overwhelmed and in a shock due to the change from extreme humidity of Senegal to extreme dryness of least now all my leather and cotton stuff are not gathering mold anymore :)

    I linked you to my blog, hope it's alright? Let me know if not!