05 June 2016

The towels in the bathroom won't dry, the doors make squeaky noises when we try to shut them and the basement no longer smells of the river, it's basically rotting away under our eyes. All week a string of very heavy thunderstorms has caused many flash floods in the benign and cozy suburbs around us, with the grounds saturated beyond capacity small tinkling streams that normally just go up to your ankles are swelling into mighty forces that wash away cars and entire houses. While the big fat river moves on quietly. It's not me this time, he seems to tell us, it's rain like Never Ever Before. (And midges like never before.)

Our house insurance keeps on sending frantic messages about orange alerts and this morning, we finally prepared for the worst and after clearing off everything of the entire basement floor, I put my welly boots and the two buckets and the broom at the top of the stairs. I suppose we are ready for whatever. Keeping fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, the ants have burrowed deeper and deeper below the patio stones but their  basements - unlike ours, but the next storm is rumbling - must have flooded already because they stubbornly try to access the sitting room. Picture me sweeping them ever so gently back outside. I trust they are clever enough to find a better hiding place.

In paradise it rained every day. Short sudden showers mostly, hammering on the corrugated tin roofs, the dripping water leaving a neat line of small craters in the soil around the house. Minutes later, a short steamy interval and back into the heat. Repeat that several times every day and you get an idea of life on a tropical island.
But there were also days when the rain would not stop and we sat inside playing scrabble and listening to the Dexter Gordon tape.  Outside, small puddles slowly expanding into big pools and  a water fall cascading down the concrete steps leading to the old plantation house. The hot air thick and humid.

the estuary with Joel driving his bus
One rainy morning during breakfast, the hill behind the kitchen window washed down into the estuary in one long deafening roar, filling the stream with dark red soil and all the western rubbish that the people had been burying for years, batteries, broken kitchenware well meaning relatives had sent years ago from overseas, old toys, car parts, and various animal skeletons. A couple of days later, when the river had returned to its normal size, the remains were duly collected from between the mangroves and buried once again. The locals were extremely clean and proud home owners and first thing every morning after sunrise, Joel from next door, in his spick and span uniform (he worked as a bus driver), would sweep up the dead leaves and dropped hibiscus and frangipani and bilimbi petals in a neat pile ready to be burned. You had to watch him because more than once he had cleaned our yard before I had a chance to finish my first cup of tea. I tried to dissuade him but he felt too sorry for us inept Europeans to get the message.
Of course, the next shower would send more leaves down and soon enough, someone would have to sweep them up again and again and again.

kids and dogs playing below the breadfruit trees

And yet, with all this rain, water was always short. Quite regularly, someone would call across the rocks between the houses or send a child with the message to fill the buckets and the bath tub because the water would be turned off in an hour. It was usually announced on the radio and since S had learned to speak in Creole in no time, she usually told me in time, but we Europeans had to be taken care of nevertheless.
The same way that the tourists in the very expensive hotels need to be taken care of, what with their twice/thrice daily showers and extravagant pools right next to the regretfully salty water of the gorgeous Indian Ocean (which is why the water has to be turned off for the mere locals).


  1. Wishing good luck to you with the rains and river. Interesting recollection!

  2. I love how the rain produces such rivers of memories for you.

  3. We are getting what they call a tropical storm here right now in North Florida and it has been raining since last night. It pours and then slacks to a gentle falling and we're going to get a lot more tonight. I can feel the earth accepting it with gratitude.

  4. Somehow the combination of Scrabble and Dexter Gordon very evocative for me, though I never spent time in the steamy tropics.

  5. How did I miss this great post? Always nice to have a glimpse of paradise.