Rain, Rain, Where Art Thou?

Rain, rain, where art thou? Oh, trust me, I need not ask. I spent fourteen years in New Orleans and four years in Nicaragua. I thought I knew what rain was. Then I moved to Panama.

The rainy season is only part of the year, the guidebook will tell you April through December and they are for the most part right. What they don’t tell you is how much rain. When I think of rain, I think two different things. I think of the afternoon showers in the summer heat of New Orleans and the tropical storms and hurricanes there. What I don’t imagine is six weeks of rain.

Yes, last November (2016) Puerto Armuelles had six weeks of rain. It rained all night, it rained all day and it rained in between. It is only October, but I am getting that rainy feeling. It has now rained basically 24 hours non-stop. No big deal right? Wrong. Although, Panama has a much better infrastructure than many of its Central American neighbors, drainage would not be considered a highlight. Especially when it is not just rain, but actual torrential downpours. I don’t have a way to measure, but I can tell you my yard was flooded at 7am this morning, and since the rain has not stopped, I would guess I am close to swimming pool status. We don’t have a public pool here…maybe I should consider opening one at my house?

So what does one do when it rains? First question. Is the power still on? Today yes, although it has flickered. Second. Do you have water? Seems like a dumb question…my yard is a swimming pool. Strangely enough, lots of water in the sky, the rivers and everywhere but where you want it is the norm. In Panama many of the water filtration plants work from the rivers. When the rivers flood and all the debris and detritus of the world gets pushed into the plants, the water stops flowing. So, six weeks of rain last year equalled six weeks of no fresh water.

Being my first year as a home-owner here I was NOT prepared. Generously the government sent out water trucks. Would have helped if I had a container bigger than a five-gallon bucket for said water. Bottled water is a good idea, but why buy water when it comes out of the sink? The argument I had about the electric plugs downstairs not being at ground level like they are back home…well, after my downstairs flooded knee-deep, I just feel like a moron. While all my neighbors were out digging trenches along the road and I sat reading a book and drinking a cold beer…again, moron comes to mind.

So, now as the second season of rain appears to be upon us I have learned many a thing. How many I have I implemented? Lets just say, my downstairs did not flood yesterday, but I was forced to drink bottled beer. The most important thing I have learned is that, although many things my neighbors do seem odd to someone from the U.S., there are reasons for them all (with the exception of booming stereo speakers) and as a transplant here I would be wise to take a few tips from them. I have also learned that all of my neighbors and friends here are more than happy to explain the reasons why they do strange things and even help me out on occasion.

Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to ask for help and always be prepared!

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