After departing New York City in mid-November and arriving here in early December, we saw rain for the first time about two weeks ago. I had missed it.
That first tropical rainstorm, a downpour that lasted approximately two hours during the workday, made music on the tin roofs below my 11th-floor windows. Since I was in no hurry to go outside, I was sorry when the entertainment ended.
A little after midnight the other day, rains came again and then last night as well. They are very much ahead of their time.
We were asleep when that first nighttime deluge arrived, so the floor-to-ceiling windows in our living room were open. Let’s just say that those screwed-down screens were dirty and that they’re not so now. I wish I could say the same for the tiled floor and plastic-upholstered furniture that comes with our rental.
Somebody tweeted that the street one block parallel to the one shown at the top us was shin-deep in water, probably several blocks to the north, giving me a new appreciation of the unlikely height of curbstones outside some of the villas, where the owners obviously have paid for improvements.
Last night’s torrents arrived before bedtime, and I’ve come to recognize the signs of its impending arrival. It is not so different from more hospitable climes.
First the skies darken, then a mass of angry black clouds gather as the winds march forcefully through the city, whipping the tarps that construction crews hurriedly and often ineffectually tie onto buildings devoid of exterior walls.
There then come thunder and lightning, followed soon after by rain heavier than anything I can remember having seen before.
I am told that the rain has charged in earlier than usual this year; that phenomenon occurs often enough that it has a label roughly translated as “bad-month” rain. Normally, I gather, the monsoons don’t inundate the nation until well after the Cambodian New Year (which lasts three days starting the middle of this month) and usually toward the end of May.
There always is flooding. But when the rains do march in, one great benefit is plummeting temperatures. One great detriment is rising humidity.
At the beginning, I just read, the rains generally manifest themselves in darkness and then gradually move to daytime.
As the daytime rain I witnessed made its approach, I saw school children scurrying in packs but kind of resigned behavior among other folks, who variously disappeared from the streets or trudged along to continue their standard activities.
I know that locals don’t bother with umbrellas, undoubtedly because they wouldn’t last more than a few minutes or provide any protection worth noting because of the blasting wind. We brought none with us and have yet to purchase a long plastic hoodie of a type that seems to prevail.
I’ll buy one soon, realizing that you have to just grin and wear it in the many months of wetness that I imagine will seem to me in no time at all very much like the 13th plague.