Coming of the Rain

March 1992(?)

The Valley of Oaxaca is high desert. Like the Sonoran desert of the American southwest, it gets most of its rainfall in the late spring and early summer - April through July...

Yesterday the year's first mighty thunderstorm came slashing down from the west and beat the hell out of a sweaty flat afternoon. It sent cafe tables on their sides, table cloths flying, and dropped soaked pigeons from the heavens to go sliding across the cobble stones. A bolt of lightning even had the audacity to strike the central spire of the ornate kiosk in the middle of the Zocalo, turning everything blue-white and causing everyone to jump and scream with the bang. And poor old me didn't get home till late because there was no way to wait on the corner for the bus in such a tempest. I was forced to sit in a dry section of an arch-lined cafe beside the Zocalo, drinking hot chocolate with some friends and commenting on the people sprinting by with newspapers held over their heads. Such was the first rain in Oaxaca, and the old timers say that it never rains in March. Never even rains like this in April or May, it always waits till June. The last time it came down like this was fifty years ago. I say that old big ozone hole must be letting through some space water.

And now again this afternoon it came down as I sat in my house and read. This time it was thundering down as though one were beneath the very falls of Niagra. I got up to look and see what might be floating by and was shocked to see that the ground was little more than wet, and what looked to be no more that a drip-irrigator mist was coming down. It was then and there that I discovered the exaggerating powers of a tin roof. Now I dare say I rather dread the thought of long rainy nights in August, for I'm sure to go deaf and crazy from lack of sleep.


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