Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Stroll Down Memory Rain

Fall is decidedly upon us on the West Coast and rainy days are fast becoming the norm. I love Fall and I know that rain is a part of the process. In a strange way, the rain makes me happy. Today, however, the rain was freaky. I was sitting in bed--tea in one hand, book in the other-- listening to the softly falling rain through my open window when all of a sudden it was like someone turned on a faucet. I had plans for a big walk today and wasn't really looking forward to the idea of having to walk in the rain. I stuck my hand out and the rain was coming down so hard, it actually stung a little. By the time that rain stopped within 20 minutes of starting and after a few more sprinkles of rain in the morning, the afternoon turned out to be very hot and muggy with no need for a jacket. I was telling a friend that it reminded me of the rains in Tanzania.

Towards the end of my time in TZ, my stepmom and my 'baby' brother, Brendan, came to visit. I was really excited to get to show them around my Tanzania and the people and culture I had fallen so in love with. The only problem is that their visit in November coincided with the start of the short rainy season. They arrived into Dar Es Salaam just past midnight on Sunday night and on the Monday, I took them over to Zanzibar so they could get over their jet lag while lying on a beach.

Dar Es Salaam ferry terminal

Despite a torrential downpour while waiting for the ferry in Dar, Zanzibar was dry. Brendan and Charlotte's first real meal in Africa overlooked this:

Nungwi Beach, North Zanzibar

While Charlotte tried to catch up on some much needed sleep, Brendan and I headed out to the northern beach for a quick swim and then to watch the sunset. It would prove to be the only nice sunset while we were on Zanzibar.

Brendan enjoying the view

It rained on and off for the next two days before we headed down to Stone Town. The rains didn't bother me too much. The rains never lasted more than 20 minutes, there was always a bar to duck into, and the sun was so hot that every thing was dry within minutes of the rains ending. Besides, having been to Zanzibar at the tail-end of tourist season, I found it was really nice to have the beach to pretty much ourselves and the locals.

I was so happy to return to Stone Town. It's such a fascinating place for a history-dork like me. I was happy to revisit some old haunts while we wandered the labyrinth of streets. When we wearied of the walking, we'd head back to the hotel to drink some tea and play Rummy on the rooftop terrace. It rained but we always seemed to be at the hotel.

Typical Stone Town street

On our last day, we checked out of our hotel but left our bags there as we heading out to a tea room for one last Zanzibar outing. We sat in the tea room playing a round of Rummy when suddenly the sun disappeared making the tea house very dark and the rains just started bucketing down. Within a matter of minutes the street outside had become a river almost a foot deep.

I had on flip-flops but everyone else was wearing shoes. This was not good.

We were filled with a slight panic as we had to leave the tea room within the next half hour to get back to the hotel (and our bags) in time for the cab we had ordered, but the rain was lashing down. We hadn't had rain this strong in Zanzibar before (although I had experienced it in Usa River where I was living, but that's a whole other post). There was no Gore-Tex jacket in the world that would keep us dry. Even if the rain did stop, the street had become a f***ing river!! There was little we could do about it so after we snapped a few photos we continued with our game of rummy and hoped the rain would stop soon.

At least we got stuck in a tea room and not a stranger's front stoop.

The rain did stop just as suddenly as it had started and the river disappeared just as quickly. Walking back to the hotel there were still areas where we had to pick our way around sizable puddles, but must of the streets had nothing more than the 'just rained' glean to them. In fact, the street that our hotel was on was bone dry! I noticed, for the first time, the number of large grates all over the place and realised that this mini flash flood was obviously the norm during the rainy season.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that's an incredible amount of rain! Thanks for sharing the photos. At least our downpour wasn't the norm. Let me know when you finish your album because I would live to see more photos!

Anonymous said...


live?! to see more photos.

AndreaC said...

I'll definitely let you know on the book is finished, but as I seem to be working on it at the speed of a Tanzanian, I expect the completion date to be some time around 2014 ;)