Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The promise of rain

After a day of everyone complaining about the unbearable heat, at 4.15 yesterday afternoon the sky over Bayan Loco turned black (well actually the muddy brown of a local sewer) and the wind whipped up.. Not the gentle breeze that we’re used to but a vicious swirling wind that was throwing so much debris around outside that it looked (and sounded) as though it was raining, before any precipiation actually arrived. Then we heard the first solid, and intermittent drops of rain which suddenly accelerated into a tropical downpour which quickly became, for a European such as myself, frankly a bit scary and reminded my fellow Floridians of hurricans back home.

However looking around my office to see my colleagues carrying on as usual as the shutters were flung back and forth in the wind, the rain being blown in all directions in thick sheets through doors and louvred windows, I realised that this was just the start of things to come.

One of the Peugeots gets a good wash as the palm trees outside the compound are whipped up in the blustering wind

Puddles quickly grow - and make a surprisingly good mirror for the Main House itself.

(And then I realised that my camera battery had expired... no more pictures I’m afraid.)
By leaving time (17:00) things had quietened down enough to tackle the journey home although I was distressed to discover that the car’s previous occupants, unsuspecting of rain, had left the front passenger seat window open. I had to ask Mr Shinggu to stop the car 200m down the road so I could move into the back seat as my back, which on previous days would have welcomed the cool of a wet seat, became clammy and honestly, just a bit itchy as moisture on the aged velour seats exuded an distinctly soupy liquid.

Driving home we noticed 100s (probably 1,000s) of ripening mangoes scattered on the ground; we tried to dodge puddles which cunningly disguised the depth of ruts on the mud roads, and we watched the neighbourhood pigs scrabbling delightedly in the puddles and drains as the hydro-phobic (I have since learnt) goats took refuge under cover.

We had to take the cross-town instead of usual cross-country route home to avoid bogged roads but nonetheless some streets looked as though a mini-hurricane had hit, with branches torn from the trees and a few tin (here known as ‘zinc’) roofs vying from freedom from the walls below.
Governor Sambo’s huge billboard at the NEPA roundabout was firmly blown over as the iron supports buckled (luckily onto the roundabout and not the road) whilst the one of the seldom-used barriers on the railway crossing was bent right over across the railway tracks.
However we were happy – the rain had come to break the heat. We’d seen the clouds menacing over Kagoro Hill so were anticipating both the carnage and the cool that we would encounter once home.

As we turned right past the seminary into Kagoro we noticed a distinct dryness – there were no puddles and little evidence of gale-force winds.. It seemed the storm had passed our village by. Although there still was a slight coolness in the air it was not the distinct chill (perhaps a slight exaggeration) that accompanies a really good downpour.

For once sitting in our front room as opposed to our back porch on our return (Victoria had thoughtfully rescued our deck-chairs before the advertised rain failed to appear) we decided to go and visit our neighbour Mrs Aka’ahs who runs a small NGO in the village and has a regular ‘children’s hour’ between 6 and 7pm on Tuesday evenings.

A bench was provided for us whilst the 25 or so small children sat on mats on the driveway. After one had offered to say the opening prayer (the Lord’s Prayer – recited almost word-perfectly by children from ages of 2 – 10) they waited expectantly for Mrs Aka’ahs story-telling to begin, as it duly did.
As night began to fall, distant forked lightening lit up the sky and the (very) occasional droplet again hinted at the promise of a proper rainstorm. But nothing was forthcoming and Mrs Aka’ahs was able to complete her parable (we understood kings, meat, flowers from the Hausa but unfortunately can’t fill in the rest) and hand out sweet puff puffs (like small donuts) to the eager, but relatively orderly line of children.
Being asked for a comment in conclusion, all I could think of was the thunder-storm clap. I have discovered that ‘energisers’ and ‘themed claps’ are a big part of NGO meetings which also come in very useful when entertaining children.

The thunderstorm claps starts with the first drops of rain as everyone lightly taps their forefinger on their palm. Slowly the tempo increases with two, three fingers on the palm as drizzle crescendos into a tropical rainstorm (full applause) that concludes with a single loud thunder-clap at the end.
It may have been the nearest that Kagoro got to rain yesterday but we were still grateful for the evening cool. We all slept well last night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Cicely,
Great talking with you on Sunday! You sounded truly excited by the sights of the waterfall and the cold star beer!
What a nice blog this was today. I liked the 'thunder-clap'...maybe the kids should do it more often and get you all some more rain....although by the sounds of it you are coming into the wet season and you'll probably have more rain like that day.
I have packed all your bits up in a suitcase so now I just await Lizzy's call or email. Thankfully it all fitted except the solar cell case but that looks pretty sturdy.
Looking forward to a Lizzy's visit blog soon.
Love J xxx