Tuesday, May 4

Two and a half months in Indonesia: The rain

It rains a lot in Bali. Or I could just be a wimp. I'd have to check on that with my friends from Seattle or who spent a term at Oxford or who have lived on a coast. It was raining the day I arrived. It proceeded to rain at least once a day for the rest of the week. Then it took a turn for the sunny for the next. We've come back around to the rain for the past three days.

We get the whole range of rain's textures and depths in Bali. There is the drizzle where you hardly even realize it's raining until it comes to your attention that your shirt is a bit darker in color and a bit heavier than when you left the house. The sweat from a good 5k gets you more wet than a drizzle. There is the drip where the water manages to band together for a few good drops that, again, aren't enough to get you really wet but are enough to make it look like you struggle with getting the water from the cup into your mouth. There are the sheets. The rain comes down with a density and speed that you know even the potent combination of umbrella and raincoat are not sufficient to keep the wet out. I even saw lighting during today's sheets. No thunder, but there most certainly was a flash.

Sheets are not uncommon, and they do a pretty effective job of holding up all traffic while coming down as most people here ride motorbikes. They've adapted. When the rain starts coming in and a poncho isn't enough, they head for the nearest house. Doesn't matter if they know who it is. They just go and are welcomed. I went to a village about an hour outside the center to take care of some work for sponsorships. About halfway through the drips started. Not a minute after I took the last picture it turned into sheets. They let us hang out in their house for the next hour or so. It happened in Jakarta, too. I had gone into the neighborhood with the kids and other volunteers to deliver some fliers for the next month worth of classes when the sheets came. Kids got us into some house. I don't think they knew them at all because no one was talking, but they brought us tea while we waited another hour or two.

It's different. I can't imagine it ever happening in the United States. Even if you weren't getting around by car and totally ensconced against the rain, your first choice would probably be to duck into a bookstore or gas station or whatever. Doesn't really work here. Not nearly so bad as Kenya, but most stores here are little more than holes in the wall. Not a terrible lot of shelves and racks to browse before the owners start getting frustrated, but they would probably have no problem with me in their house. It's different.

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