During the dry season in Nicaragua, it is hot during the day, even up
in the mountains of Matagalpa. But the heat dissipates after the sun
goes down. Sometimes, while sleeping, you might even wish for a light
blanket. Once the sun comes up, you have a few precious hours of
coolness and mist to get things done. The mist burns off and it
starts to really warm up before noon. It is dry and a thin film of
gritty dust covers everything. A conscientious Nicaraguan housekeeper
mops about twice a day, it seems like. (I am not a conscientious
I have had to be careful during the dry season—it is not humid, and my
sweat evaporates instantly, so I don't notice the bright sun so much.
I have only been saved from sunburns a couple of times because I
always wear clothes that cover my shoulders and legs—both because of
insects and because of the ubiquitous, monotonous, masculine
The last week or so, on the other hand, it has been hotter and humid,
starting earlier and lasting later. There has been a sense of
building meteorological tension. Last week, half the sky was filled
with bright stars, while the other half was flashing with silent,
spectacular cloud lightning. There have been more ants
around—according to my landlord, they have been busy storing up food
in anticipation of the rains.
Farmers, too, have been waiting for the rain with mounting tension.
As the dry season wears on, the earth gets browner and browner,
dustier and dustier. The number of flowering bushes gets fewer. A
small coffee farmer almost always grows other crops, like corn, beans,
and potatoes, sometimes for household consumption, and sometimes also
to sell. But no crops can grow without irrigation, and the only
places with irrigation are the big haciendas, or down on the plains.
Today, finally, it rained. It was the release of a tension that had
been building for weeks, like shattering a glass jar on a tile floor
after hours of swallowing frustration, like the shock of swallowing an
ice-cold drink after a day of physical labor in the dry heat.
It rained at first gently, a misting sprinkle that warned people to
find shelter, then a little harder, so the gutters started to flow,
and then pounding, rattling the tin roofs, flooding the patio,
carrying away what looked like the top inch of the steep dirt road a
few blocks uphill from here. The electricity went out and I, sitting
just inside the door to my patio, moved my chair back out of the
spray, first by about a foot, and then halfway across the room. I
felt a delicious, almost cold breeze touch my hair where it was still
wet from my sweating under my baseball cap. I watched, fascinated, as
the water rose in the gutter in my hall. I would need a raincoat to
get to my bathroom! Would it also flood my bedroom? But before it
got close to overflowing, the rain slackened, and stopped, leaving my
ears ringing, my patio full of puddles, and my body more relaxed than
it has been for a week. If I were a smoker, I would have lit a
I will be leaving tomorrow for almost a week in the campo. I'll be
going on my motorcycle! This morning I practiced going up the road
I'll be taking, and had no problems. During my practice sessions in
the last week, I've come to feel more and more like I'm in charge, not
the beast machine, and my trip this morning has greatly increased my
confidence to the point where my work, rather than my transportation,
is the main thing I'm thinking about.
Wish me luck!