Ecuador, being on the equator, has only two seasons: wet and dry. We are at the tail end of wet season now, which means that we have been enjoying rainstorms on a daily basis. I thought I had seen rain before, from Vancouver’s endless grey drizzle to Asia’s typhoons. I was wrong.
Storms in Ecuador are fabulous. They start with the rumble of far-off thunder. It cracks like a whip, and then echoes across the valley in deep crashing waves. The sound elicits images of mountainsides collapsing, tumbling into the rivers below. The volume is so high that sleep would be impossible; we have no choice but to enjoy the thrill of the storm. Quite often, the storms occur in the afternoon, when we’re working on the hillsides, and we grin at each other as it’s too loud to talk.
The lightning doesn’t appear as often as the thunder, as the hills are high and the storms often take place miles away. Even during the day, though, the sky can be lit up with flashes of electricity moving between earth and clouds. I sometimes count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the thunder that follows, often getting to fifteen or twenty before being almost deafened by the crash that eventually comes. At night, during a storm, we don’t need a flashlight to move around outside – the lightning comes often enough and lights the sky well enough to see the world around us clearly.
The most impressive part of the rainy season and its endless storms would be the rain itself. Great sheets of it slam into the sides of the house, seeping into the walls and blowing through the windows. The pitter-patter of rain on the roof quickly turns to a roar, and all of us here on the farm run to move or cover things that should be dry. The chickens huddle under the huge leaves in the garden, the goats run home from the fields to hide in their pen, and the horses and sheep take shelter in the lean-to by the pond. Escaping the rain seems like wasted effort, though – eventually everything on the farm is damp, as the rain relentlessly pursues us and finds its way into all dry places.
Luckily, for now at least, the storms limit themselves to the afternoons and evenings. Every day after breakfast, our sodden clothes get hung out to dry in the morning sun, which bakes them in a brief, intense period of heat and clear skies. By lunchtime, the clothes on our backs have steamed themselves dry, the chickens and pigs are panting for refills of their water bowls, and we’re eagerly waiting for rain to drop the temperature and chase the biting flies away. And so, after greeting the morning sun with smiles, we are equally enthusiastic at the start of the afternoon’s storms. And at night, freshly showered and in our mostly-dry evening clothes, we have animated conversations over the hammering of the rain on the roof, before turning in to bed to rest and look forward to tomorrow’s sun and storms.