Drought Season Rain… In Mali. Flooding My Second Floor Apartment

“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.” (Bill Watterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book)

“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
“The rain to the wind said,
You push and I’ll pelt.’
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged–though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.”
(Robert Frost)

I have only ever seen rain in Mali twice before. Just a mild sprinkle that made puddles, on two different days in February 2012. Only yesterday, when my linguist friends were over for a meeting, my wife commented that the weather is predicting rain next week. My friend said that they have never seen rain in January before. They have been here for almost ten years.

About one o’clock in the morning, I woke up and the rain was just beginning. A light shower turned to a violent wind, thunder and lightning storm. The wind was sending sheets of rain by our windows, sideways, and it was hard to see. Soon after, power went out.

“On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard. I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.” (Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time)

The rain was pelting our second story windows and doors. We have two tiny little private terraces off of two rooms (2 feet by 6 feet). They are tiled in and about 5 centimeters lower than the door. In our bedroom, the little terrace filled up like a little pool and then the water began coming in the door. The little drain could not keep up.  The window frames were also all filled and running down the wall too; the drains on the windows could not keep up either, as  half our bedroom filled with water. We worked frantically to keep it back.

“He turned to look just in time to see the rain start falling out as if the storm had finally decided to weep with shame for what it had done to them.” (James Dashner, The Scorch Trials)

Then I thought we better check the room on the other end, for our interns… that terrace drain is either plugged or non existent, because the room was totally flooded, all the way out the hall and into our storage room as well. It would have kept coming, but I got a bucket and started to bail the terrace, so that the water level dropped below the door lip and could no longer go in the house… I keep bailing in the 5 cm pool, throwing water over the rail on to the street below…. in front of the bank under me. A bank employee arrived on his moto down below to assure the bank was OK… Glad he did not stop below me as I bailed.

“I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying.” (Charles Chaplin)

So we spent almost an hour with buckets and towels mopping up, and using a squeegee to push the water down the hall, into the interns’ room and out the door; Stopping from time to time to bail the water off the small terrace when I filled it up again.

Guess I need to call my landlord, as we are not here in rainy season to deal with this. He is going to have to fix and enlarge the drains.  For certain, we will be packing everything in watertight garbage cans…

I have always wanted to see a heavy rain in Mali… and this was our first ever. Unfortunately we did not get to do the romantic thing of going out in the rain to twirl pirouettes, or raise our hands and faces to the heavens to enjoy the sensation…

Kiss me with rain on your eyelashes,
come on, let us sway together,
under the trees, and to hell with thunder.”
― Edwin Morgan, A Book of Lives

We were too busy protecting our “stuff”. We have very little stuff here… But it just goes to show how”stuff” can get in the way of life experiences… The less of it you have, the freer you are to experience what we have before us.

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” (Roger Miller)

I have wanted to experience a real rain in Mali…. And I finally did. I know how the flowers feel in Mali.

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”  (Ashley Smith)

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