The electricity went out two mornings ago at 3:30. I felt it right away, sweating on top of my sheets with no fan to comfort me. I fell fitfully back to sleep, never cooling off. In fact never cooling off for the rest of the day. Later, sitting still in my office, I felt the sweat drip down my neck and roll down my stomach. It was 95F.
Early this morning, again at 3:30, I was woken by a sound I haven’t heard since probably April. Rain. Pounding, blowing, forceful rain. Rain that we’ve been praying for for over a month. Rain that should have come a month ago. Rain that will soak into the ground and finally allow farmers to sow their fields. Rain that will fill people’s wells. Rain that will remove the heat from the air, if only temporarily. Rain that will revive and revitalize.
When you have running tap water and can afford to buy groceries, you don’t think of the life-giving force that is rain. Then you hear about the cholera outbreaks in the area because people are using dirty water to drink, cook, wash, and bathe in. You hear about the farmers who haven’t been able to plant crops because the ground is too dry, of the milho that’s half the height it should be by now. My friend Heather lives in an orphanage on the outskirts of town. She bathed in the sea one day because it was cleaner than her well water. Another day she found tadpoles in her brown bathwater. At 3:30 I thought of Heather. I thought of the boys at the orphanage likely running out into the rain, dancing around, lifting their heads to the sky, mouths open wide in laughter. I sent a text message to my parents: “It’s storming!!!”
Through the steamed-up windows of the chapa on the way to work I saw two boys running and jumping down a path in their underwear, their skin soaking in the heavenly shower.
This afternoon I walked the very familiar route to Immigration, this time with umbrella in hand, dodging muddy puddles on the way, trying to avoid being splashed by cars. Ordinarily it wouldn’t be a fun walk. I was getting wetter by the minute, my flip-flops kept flinging bits of wet sand up my back, and I didn’t want to think about the filth that was mixing in the puddles. But the air was fresh, it was cool, I could feel the ground beneath me thanking the sky.
At some point I found myself in step with an older man, also maneuvering between puddles and cars. He said, “The rain is good. We want the rain.” I agreed, “The rain IS good.” We continued back and forth: “It cools the air.” “It’s good for the ground.” “It’s good for food. It’s good for germination.” I couldn’t remember the word for well, but I wanted to say it was good for the wells too. But I needed to cross the street. With big smiles on our faces, still dodging puddles, we parted ways, “Tchau.”
Yes, the rain IS good.