18 May 2006

Rainy Season Begins

Monday, 4am, I am sound asleep. I start to notice the sounds from outside. Something in my unconscious tells me to JUMP. It is a torrential rain storm, I have windows open and the clothes are on the balcony.

First, I vault out of bed to the living room and shut windows. Then into my other small room. Last it is back to the bedroom, as it opens on to my small balcony and it takes awhile longer for the rain to enter. I look at my clothes, which really were dry enough the night before, but I thought I’d give them a little longer. They are about 50% drenched. Just as I am thinking of dragging them inside, lightening strikes a few blocks away. I decide that getting fried in an effort to get the laundry in is not a noble way to die.

Once I close the balcony door I realize that the sheet I had kicked off in an effort to save the apartment is on the floor, mopping up rain water. Considering my past experiences with rain in this place, it wasn’t too bad.

For the next two hours, I watched as the intensity increased, sure that my undergarments would, at any moment, fly off into the surrounding building sites. By the time the storm had passed through, it was time to get ready for work.

And so it begins; the rainy season. It does cool things down, but now it is always the rush to get out of work and get errands done before I get trapped in a downpour. I am constantly on the lookout for dark, menacing clouds and the first hint of strong winds. Two days ago at work I managed to avoid the worst storm of the season so far, only because I decided to sit and have some tea before going home.

Sitting out under the awning of the outdoor university cafeteria, I could feel the winds pick up and saw the skies darkening. The tables and chairs we use are made of the heaviest wood I know, and are a real pain to move. Last fall, during another storm, I finally understood why they were so weighty and difficult to rearrange. They stood their ground when all else was flying. But not this time.

The first indication that this was not going to be a normal storm was that the chairs began to move around. The cafeteria area is open, but built under the second floor so is well protected, and normally only the outer edges get wet. Within one minute, students were scrambling to get away from the wind-swept rain that lashed through the entire place. When I saw the first table flip onto its side, I decided it would be a good time to get up and go into the building. Again, being wiped out in one’s prime by flying patio furniture, does not a good obit make.

I watched from relative safety as the gale intensified, now accompanied by thunder and lightening. Tree branches came flying by along with the tables. I was really glad that the taxi I had called was late. I hoped everyone had pulled off the road. It would have been impossible for motorbikes to function under these conditions. And then, after about thirty minutes, it stopped. I have never experienced anything as violent as our mini-hurricane. In total, three tables were broken, numerous chairs and branches lost, and ten trees knocked over. I think they were able to save the trees.

The following day I asked my Vietnamese teacher if she had been caught in the storm. She said that she had lived here her whole life and never experienced a storm. Huh? After a few questions it got cleared up. I learned that in Vietnamese there are only two words for such weather: rain and typhoon. I still think it was a typhoon.

Now it is back to only being able to hang clothes on the line when I am home, and the constant worry that the balcony will again flood into my bedroom.

On constant storm alert,

ps: it seems my blog has been identified by the cybers as a spam blog, so until they verify that i am in fact, not a robot, i can't post pics, and possibly can't post this.