Saturday, November 21, 2009

The rains have come! (Getting ready to build an arc)

Ok… so I get what people mean when they talk about the rainy season. They don’t mean it rains more often. They mean it rains and doesn’t stop raining until there is no water left in the sky. It has been raining for about a week straight. Let me illustrate by describing my day yesterday:

I awoke feeling slightly damp, but I am luckier than some volunteers in that there is not water leaking directly onto my bed. There is, however, water leaking everywhere else. It turns out that tin roofs are not impermeable. The cement walls of my room are stained with big wet spots where the water is running down and there are little puddles on the floor at the base. I have had more cockroaches in my room since the rain started, but I don’t mind the company. They just scurry about and periodically turn on to their backs, curl up their little legs and dry up into little cockroach crisps.

When I walked out into the living room I had to be careful not to slip in the big puddles. Water dripped on my head as I walked to the bathroom which, ironically, was the only part of the house not leaking. The worst was to come when I went into the kitchen to cook my egg for breakfast and found a small lake. I stood barefoot in two inches of water while I prepared breakfast. We had to unplug our freezer so we would not get electrocuted. The stove, fortunately, is propane powered.

Having prepared breakfast and lunch and convinced my host mom that I did not need to bathe, I got dressed for school with the same dirty clothes I’ve been wearing all week (you can’t do laundry when it’s raining!). Under my skirt I wore sweatpants, anticipating the chilly draft through the broken windows of the secondary school where I’m teaching (more on Model School later). On top I layered several long sleeve shirts, a sweatshirt, jacket and raincoat. Once I was sufficiently bundled, I took a bucket of water and washed my nice leather shoes and put them in a plastic bag to carry with me. I then put on my glorious rubber boots. May I pause for a moment to thank the inventor of the rubber boot? Where would I be right now without my rubber boots? I dare not imagine! Let me explain.

I open my umbrella and walk out the door into the deluge. Soon I find myself mired in muck and must cautiously extricate my feet from the suction of mud without having it splatter all over my clothes. The neighbor watches me from her doorway and calls out “you’re going to fall!” Mozambicans are so encouraging…

“Yeeshhh… so much matopi!” I respond. Matopi is the xishangana word for mud and its three strong syllables (Mah –Toh – Pee!) can capture our contempt against the forces of nature so much better that the wimpy one syllable “mud.”

I continue to struggle through the matopi until I reach what was once a path and is now a raging river with waterfalls pouring out from the bamboo and threatening to wash me away if I set foot in them. I edge my way through the shallowest of the waters, again thanking God for rubber boots, and start climbing up a hill where water is leaping off the steep path in dozens of small cascades. When I make it out of the back end of the neighborhood, I cut up to the main street (the only paved road in town), hoping to catch a ride with the Peace Corps car that sometimes cruises around and picks up straggling volunteers. To my dismay, walking along the road did nothing but get me splashed by a car driving through a huge muddy puddle. I looked up to see the Peace Corps emblem speeding past.

So to those of you were envying me as you started hunkering down for winter, count your blessings! When the sun comes out again I will be sure to brag, but for the moment I am jealously remembering what it is like to hang up your wet socks next to the wood stove and warm your toes by the fire.


  1. Sounds like quite the adventure.

    You would enjoy the cockroaches as company, goodness Clancy!

  2. Wear your rain jacket to sleep to solve the waking up damp problem.