The Tropical Paradise Version of Snow-Days

19 Oct

We don’t get a whole lot of rainfall around here, which is good since it is practically a state of emergency every time it rains. It’s kind of like in my hometown, where just the threat of snow is often enough to cancel school, despite the fact that it usually snows a few times every year. We know it’s coming, we know it’s that time of year, yet still we act like it is some outrageous event. Here, even without cancelled classes, you’ve gotta appreciate a rainy day as if it were a holiday, because who knows when the next one will be.

During the rainy season here (late May through the end of October, peaking in September), it mostly rains for short periods in the evening or at night, and we might go up to a week or two between showers. I think it only rained once or twice the whole month of July this year. It certainly doesn’t rain every day, or usually for very long periods, unless we’re getting the effects of a nearby hurricane.

The rain is usually like a nice summer rain, cooling things down a little but not making it cold, just turning down the humidity for at least an hour or two. I like it best when it rains in the late evening, turning down the heat and making soothing sounds for bedtime. I have to admit, though, that with as little rain as we get, any time it rains is kind of okay. Despite being the vitamin D lover that I am, here in the land of 350ish days of sunshine, even I can appreciate a nice cloudy day, too.

An overcast day, view from my back door

An overcast day, view from my back door

But the rain, when it’s not while everyone’s sleeping, is totally inconvenient and often a bit chaotic. Streets that are paved don’t have any real drainage system, so there are huge puddling problems and flash flooding in many areas. Dirt roads can also get ugly, like on one of the streets near our house where even big trucks get stuck in the mud when it rains hard. Our other exit route is a little bit safer, although for one block half of the street has a line where the wet ground sinks down below the rocks, making a mini-creek while the rain is pouring down. Luckily it’s small enough to avoid as long as you know it’s there. It causes a big puddle at the bottom of the hill, but nothing we haven’t been able to pass so far.

Imagine the mini waterfall when it rains, on the road near my house

Imagine the mini waterfall when it rains, on the road near my house

If you have a car, the rain’s not so bad, except that the already erratic driving of the general public is worse. Many people go at a snail’s pace, even in spots where the road is just fine. Other folks are speeding, but all over the road, avoiding large puddles. People are still out on their motorcycles (for lack of other transport), although their ability to see the road is reduced thanks to the rain in their eyes, and your ability to see them is lessoned as well.

If you don’t have a car when it’s raining and you have to go out, there’s a totally different set of problems. Everyone and their mom will be trying to take a taxi, so you may or may not get one. Even if you find a free taxi, they are likely to charge you extra (up to double, some bastards), taking advantage of the rain. If you’re walking, you either need rain boots, or you just wear sandals and plan to have wet and muddy feet until you get home (and trust me, wet feet in sandals get dryer and are more comfortable than wet feet in tennis shoes all afternoon). Of course public transport is running rain or shine, but you still have to walk a bit to get to where you are going, most of the time. And some routes change a bit for the rain; for example the bus that goes closest to our house stops where the pavement ends, instead of just a block from our house, which is a four block difference.

And all of us, even though we know that sometimes the rain lets loose suddenly, are guilty of walking around totally unprepared. Several times now I’ve had both of my rain ponchos in the office at work and there’s an afternoon storm while I’m home on lunch break. Or vice versa, I’m at work and I’ve left all relevant gear at home. Alas. So there I am like everybody else, looking surprised and betrayed by the actual presence of rain during the rainy season.

This weekend there was a tropical storm (the light version of a hurricane) that hit along the coast of Oaxaca and Guerrero- not too far from us, but not too close, either, thank goodness. We got two days and two nights of nearly constant rain, ranging from a drizzle to a heavy downpour. And it was actually chilly for the entire two days! Lucia and I wore pants with gusto, stockings and boots, and even a hoody! It was kind of fun to come home from work at 1:30 in the afternoon and not be sweating. On Friday, lunch break felt like a real break; Conan had made vegetable soup, the perfect fix for the weather. We watched a kid movie that Lucia had picked out and ate popcorn (the real kind, popped on the stove, of course), the three of us cuddled up in the bed, cozy and dry while it poured outside. When I got home that night (nice and dry, thanks to having my rain gear and Conan picking me up in the car at the edge of campus), it was still rainy and getting even chillier. We made hot chocolate and ate muffins that Conan and Lucia had picked up in the afternoon. Lucia got to wear some PJs she hadn’t seen in months, whole-body ones with a cat that she screamed “cute” about when she saw it. Conan and I got to cuddle up under a blanket, the rain lulling us all to a peaceful sleep. I declared it a holiday, hands-down.

I told my mom recently that I really enjoy the rain, and luckily she wasn’t eating anything in that moment or she would’ve choked to death from shock. “You like the rain? And clouds? Did you just say that? Since when?” And it’s true, I haven’t been particularly positive about gray, dreary, bleak, cold weather. Not when I was living in Ireland, the land that only looks green and lovely in photos because mostly they catch it in the 10 minutes per day of sunshine. Not in November in Kentucky, a month full of gray day after gray day. Certainly not in Juquila, where there are 6 months of being trapped inside. But here, where gray is an anomaly, where slipping into jeans or boots is typically a sacrifice for style, where sunblock is a way of life, where a nice mug of hot tea is rarely enjoyable, rain is kind of amazing. Yes, it catches us unawares and we may curse it’s inconvenience, but you can’t live in paradise all the time, and even its dreariness is a nice change of pace. Perspective truly is everything, and every rainy day moment can be like a snow-day holiday if you take it with the right attitude, and maybe some Mexican hot chocolate.

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