THEN THERE’S MONDAY
For me, the pitter-patter of raindrops on leaves is one of the most soothing parts of my day – depending. When you consider that I’ve chosen to live in a tropical rainforest, it should come as a surprise to few that celebrating the rain, and all it entails, is a healthy part of living a balanced, realistic lifestyle in Costa Rica. I say ‘realistic’ as there are a select few who term the rainy season as “winter”. That word carries connotations of a bleak, grey time where one must hunker down into their fortress and hide from the dark, cold spell cast upon the land for seemingly endless month after month. I, for one, choose to see that the natural beauty and scenery that I enjoy every day is nourished by this daily watering and made green and lush such that you can actually smell the gratitude of a jungle thirsting for this gift.
As a Canadian, winter is bred into me. My very DNA seems to anticipate seasonal change and craves the variety that comes with it. The rainy season here does not quite fit the bill as defined by such distinct seasons as the four enjoyed in my home province of southwestern Ontario. However, I’ll take what I can get and the daily dose of rain for 8 months will suit just fine. Frozen blasts of wind, ‘snotcicles”, scraping your windshield, shoveling your walk twice a day, sliding your car into the ditch, breaking your ass on a slippery sidewalk – these were only the tip of the iceberg. I do miss these, as annoying as they sound. Costa Rica’s rainy season provides similar nuisances, but with a twist. Saying earlier that the rain is a soothing part of my day depends on where I am, or moreover where I’m heading, to define the parameters within which I consider it pleasant. A gentle sprinkling on a Sunday afternoon just kissing your head as you arrive at your doorstep, laden with groceries from the local market, is a Norman Rockwellesque moments painted with smiles and fain panic. We and giggle as we enter our homes to change our shirts and put on a cup of hot tea, setting the stage for the rain on the roof to lull us into a lazy afternoon nap. Pretty, no?
Then there’s Monday. You wake up early and put on your work duds. You head out to the office or to visit a client, umbrella in tow. Your morning is productive, you’re in the zone, and the sun beams down upon you with its approving warmth. Be not mistaken, though. That warm light in which the nation basks is simply heating the ground and setting the stage for the 1pm show – and you’re in it. One or two drops turn into millions in a matter of seconds. The bus stop (if there is one) provides little shelter, and no matter how sturdy and glorious that umbrella felt when tested under the fluorescent lights of the local Wal-Mart it will give you no protection from the splash-up of the rain hitting the ground so hard that it bounces onto your freshly pressed pants. When the bus arrives there is that window of time where you need to fish through your pocket for change, balance your umbrella, and hold your bag, somehow stepping into the overcrowded tin can. The next skill is to somehow lower your shield as you enter the bus without being hit by the enemy fire falling from the sky. You pass your fare, twist and shake the rainstick, wipe your brow, and grease up to go elbow to elbow with your fellow soaked compatriots. It’s standing room only at this time of day as you hear the steel tube cutting its way through lake-sized puddles, windows steamed opaque, breath of the passengers somehow hotter than you recall, only to eventually pull your string and signal that this is my stop. The doors swing open and you gaze down to find the driver has indeed stopped beside a racing pool of water over which you must leap, or dive into. Choosing to leap and open your umbrella at the same time, hoping the door doesn’t close on you midway, you stick your landing and cringe as you speed to the alcove or lobby of your destination. Funny how when you arrive and utter “que feo” to anyone in earshot that you don’t realize you are a few decibels louder than need be as the pounding of the rain has dampened your hearing and raised voice to compensate. Upon entering the client’s office you discover that the air conditioning has been blasting all day like an arctic front aimed at your wet back. The squeaking sound of your waterlogged shoes, the shirt coldly sticking to your torso, the dirty bottoms of your once clean pants, and general malaise that now has settled across your brow is provided little comfort in line for the hand dryer in the men’s room. Let’s hope there’s coffee.
It’s always a tradeoff. They key is timing. Though many of us cannot avoid when we need to travel, careful planning and coordination of your day can mean the difference between using the rain to mask tears or sorrow, or of joy. I’m feeling sleepy. Perhaps I’ll take a nap.