It’s the middle of the night. Somewhere in the depths of a deep sleep I sense a strange flicker of light in our room. I wake slightly, just enough to wonder if it’s a dream or reality before BOOOOOM!!!!! I start fully awake at what sounds like a bomb going off outside. I sit up in bed, heart racing, looking wildly around for the source of the noise. Silence returns. Rascal and Daddy sleep soundly beside me, oblivious to anything. Did I imagine it, I wonder? There’s a low hum outside now. Then the room lights up briefly again and heavy rain starts drumming on the roof. Another loud boom echoes nearby. Oh right, tropical thunder storm. The rumbles continue outside, like distant drums signalling an army advancing in the darkness, ready for battle.
I venture to the outdoor bathroom, though I can see very little other than steady rain bouncing off the tiles from there. Back in bed I start counting the pauses between flashes of light and explosive thunder. It’s coming closer, and getting louder. Yet I’m still the only one awake. I briefly debate wandering outdoors to see the lightening over the ocean, but apart from getting drenched, I’m not sure about the safety of going out in the watery darkness. I give up on sleep for a while and sit back to experience this strange sound and light show. I can’t believe I’m the only one awake as thunder crashes all round. It’s still the rainy season here, and when it rains, it RAINS. It feels like our beach hut is right in the path of a mighty waterfall. It’s hard to believe that the roof won’t cave in under the force of what’s hitting it, but I’m reassured by the fact that there’s no sign of leaks. The war rages on outside for at least an hour before calm returns to the night and I return to my dreams. This isn’t the only night we’re treated to such a violent display of nature. Finally one night I’m not the only witness to the chaos outside. My husband blinks awake at yet another fierce roar outside. He asks disbelievingly, “Did I really sleep through this madness the other night?!”. Yes, yes you did. Somehow. An entire tropical thunderstorm.
The rain isn’t just confined to the nights. On an overcast day you often hear a strange rustling sound in the air. It gradually gets louder until you realise it’s the sound of rain hitting the leaves of trees nearby, and it’s coming closer. Within a couple of minutes there’ll be a torrential downpour on top of your head if you haven’t found somewhere to shelter. There are mornings where we wake to the sound of the rain and hide in our hut until we’re at risk of missing breakfast. Then we make a run for it. One holding an umbrella, the other the wriggling toddler, giggling at the adventure. We run, dodging puddles and hugging the shelter of the trees. We pass other holidaymakers doing the exact same thing. If we’re unlucky enough to already have left the hut before it starts then we resign ourselves to a good soaking. Dodging from one tree or porch to the next, it takes only a couple of seconds out in the open for our clothing to be sodden. You see mixed reactions on these days. There are the drenched and miserable sun-seekers, disgusted to see any rain at all on their sun holiday. The locals, calmly strolling along, somehow managing to stay fairly dry, and looking amused at everyone else. And then there are the rest of us who find it hilariously invigorating, as we race against the rain in a large mass game of chasing that we’re predestined to lose. There’s always a change of clothes waiting back at the hut for the losers.
Some days I sit out on the porch with Rascal, staring out in wonder at the misty grey curtain of rain that obscures everything. This is nothing like the drizzly, never-ending rainfall at home. This rain is vicious and furious, but swift in spending its anger. It advances quickly, but it also departs just as fast as it came. It advances relentlessly onwards, still expelling such a vast quantity of water that you wonder if it will ever run out, or just circle the world and pass by again tomorrow. It’s refreshing both physically and mentally, like taking a deep breath of cool air. It clears away the humidity and heat for a brief spell, leaving the smell of wet but freshly clean lingering behind it. The sun will soon break out again and dry everything so fast that no trace of water remains an hour later. The island resumes its sunny disposition as if nothing ever happened, until the next time a thunderous cloud appears on the horizon.