Rain in Haiti

Have you ever taken the time to really sit and think about how rain changes things? I remember, when I was little, the worst possible thing that could happen in the summer was rain. If it ever rained, everything was ruined. Chances were, on any given day, we were either going to the pool, going to a baseball game, or just playing outside and none of those things could happen if it rained. In fact, the only good rain I remember when I was little was when All-Star baseball tryouts got cancelled because of rain one year. My family was taking a trip to Disney World, and I was going to miss the tryouts because of it…But it rained, and I got to make tryouts. As you get older, rain means different things. If you have any type of commute to work in a city, rain means that you probably need to leave about 30 minutes earlier. If you live in Jacksonville in the summer, you can pretty much plan your day around a 20-30 minute rain at about 4:00 pm. If you are anywhere near Ponte Vedra Beach and one small drop of rain falls, then you can plan for everyone to turn their hazard lights on and go at least 30mph under the speed limit. There are thousands of examples you could use here, but the point is that rain changes things, and very rarely for the better (unless you are a farmer or have just planted grass).

In Haiti, it has rained most every night for the past month, and I want to talk a little about how rain changes things here. The truth is that rain is vital in a country like ours because of the number of people who grow their own food or rely on crops as their primary source of income. At the same time, rain can cause a lot of “everyday” difficulties. It is actually pretty hard to describe unless you live here because rain changes almost everything here, and it presents some challenges for us personally also. Let me describe some of the things it does to the nation in general first:

  • There are way more motos than cars.
  • A lot of people walk wherever they need to go that day.
  • There are very few paved roads once you leave Port Au Prince.
  • Almost everyone (including us) puts their trash in a trash pit and burns it, but wet trash is more difficult to burn. On top of that, when it rains hard enough to produce standing water (which is very often) this standing water brings unwanted trash and debris right into the city streets.
  • Rain gathers in the mountains and then rushes down into the river beds that can get dry at times. This can cause flooding and it can also be dangerous for people who are using the river beds to bathe or to wash their cars.
  • When it is time to plant crops and the rains are coming, people dig irrigation ditches right across the dirt roads that we drive on. This can cause a lot of potholes that “form” overnight and it makes driving on the back roads more interesting.

No matter where you live, rain is both positive and negative. It has to happen for us to survive, but many of us could do without it on a daily basis. The above list is just some of the challenges rain causes in Haiti. You could make a similar list for every country in the world. When it rains here, Jess and I have our own set of challenges that arise. Please do not read this as a complaint just as an explanation of a little piece of life here. Anyway, here are some of the things that rain causes for us:

  • Let me start with a positive one. When there is a slight rain at night, it is a huge blessing for all of us who live here without air conditioning (which is almost everyone). A quick nighttime rain cools everything off and makes for what Fedeline likes to call “sweet sleep.”
  • On the flip side of that, when it rains in the afternoon, rather than cooling everything off, it feels like the world’s largest sauna. The humidity in Haiti is pretty rough, when it rains during the day, you can just look outside and begin to sweat.
  • We have to cancel service when it rains. Our kids come over to our house every night for service…Unless it rains. We have to cancel service or the kids have to ride in the back of the truck in the rain and nobody wants to do that.
  • Recently, we made the decision that the kids would walk to school in the mornings as long as it didn’t rain the night before or as long as the roads were not too muddy. Since we made that decision, I have gotten up almost every morning to take the kids to school because of the rain.
  • A good portion of our windows leak (I am in the process of recaulking, but a new leak seems to form fairly regularly) which means after a hard rain we pull out the towels and mops.
  • Whichever way the wind is blowing, we have to close those windows or it rains right into our house. On a sidenote, if the wind happens to be blowing the rain into our bedroom windows, then we get to sleep with the windows shut…
  • At the first sign of rain, we run and turn all of the lights off. That may sound strange, but not too long ago we had an incredibly disgusting and annoying termite infestation. These particular termites can get into any crevice in the house and they are drawn to lights. The last time they made their way in, we had to kill thousands (I am not exaggerating) of them before we could go to bed.

I know none of these things are too difficult, it is just funny what you have to deal with you live in different environments. As I am writing this, we just had a quick nighttime rain that did not come into our house at all. What that means is that in about 5 minutes when I lie down to go to sleep, I will experience the “sweet sleep” that Fedeline likes to talk about each night that the rain cools Haiti off. I wish I could explain how good this sleep really is, it is almost like sleeping in air conditioning. I actually have to use the sheet and the blanket most nights! Anyway, comment on this blog tomorrow and I will let you know just how good the sleep really was.

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