Hold Tight Folks, We’ve Got a Storm Coming

Muddy road after rainIt doesn’t rain in Paraguay; it dumps buckets. We have days darkened by ominous clouds with sheets of rain. We have nights that boom with thunder and gleam with lightening. You’ll never go back to fireworks after you’ve seen a Paraguayan lightening storm light up the starless sky.

When it rains the streets become red rivers. We don’t have glass in our windows so rain beats against the shutters and drips down the wall. If you don’t have a good roof it will inevitably drip. In my current house the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms are in separate buildings and the only water faucet we have is outside—the downpour days are damp days. You can’t avoid water specks on your hair and shirt.

Children don’t go to school when it rains and sometimes work is cancelled. The buses run less than usual. Most people have dirt bikes, which don’t protect you from the rain. There’s too much mud to drive a car.

Because you have to close the shutters it’s dark inside. Early afternoon feels like early evening. The electricity flickers or goes out entirely, so you are trapped in the dark. You unplug everything, including the fridge, in case the power surges when it comes back. It drops 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit and wind rustles the trees. Sometimes the water stops working.

My dirt lawn is textured with little craters from the rain pounding into the fine rust-colored sand. The trash that is around our lawn is carried away by the rain. Old terere and food scraps thrown out days earlier are washed down downhill.  Water pools on the cobblestoned roads and the paths turn to quicksand and streams. I’ve seen it hale nickel-sized ice chunks. The rain hammers on metal roofs and patters on ceramic ones. The mosquitos come out in flocks.

I sit in the gray dark in my room and think about the houses made of wood slabs, metal roofing, and tarps I saw at the edge of my community. I doubt the people who live there can stay dry.