|Why Does it Rain?|
Rainfall in Costa Rica follows a predictable pattern and it's relatively easy to understand.
Where the sun shines straight down it heats more, warm air picks up moisture near the surface, then rises and expands. Expansion cools the air forcing the water out, first as tiny droplets that form clouds, then as the droplets combine into drops, rainfall.
So none of this does much good as far as explaining the dry summer we've had thus far. Up on La Union where I house-sit, one tank is completely empty and the collection tanks needed to take the house through the dry months from mid-November until June are less than 10% full. Most of the year round residents rely on water collection systems and we are all hoping that we get the September and October that we need. Has there been rain and has it been fierce? Yes there has been and fierce doesn't even begin to describe it. But it hasn't been delivered in the quantities that will supply us through that long dry season.
The rain on our coast is unlike any I have ever lived with. We sit here on our cliffside perch and watch the storms develop to the south over the Corcovado Parque Nacional, and within minutes, sometimes, moments; watch the storm rage up over the ocean and pass right in front of us, streaming and racing to the north. The winds howl and cry; blowing table settings off the tables, knocking over flower stands, brochure holders and even blowing out the pilots of the stoves in our sheltered kitchen.
And the rain? It doesn't fall, it doesn't pitter patter; it hammers down, soaking all in it's path. It moves sideways in the wind and in the 30 seconds it takes me to run out to roll up the windows in the car it soaks me to the bone. It enters our covered, but open, dining room in sheets, drenching the tables and floors. Within minutes the puddles around the outside of the kitchen are deep enough to envelop my entire foot and the ten second scurry to the bodega for supplies is tantamount to taking a shower. I recall being at the Lookout Hotel and watching the pool fill up so rapidly that the pool toys floated right out of it and down he hill. Bye bye.
We have two seasons here; dusty and muddy. In the dry months of our summer (Northern Hemisphere winter) the roads are dusty and powdered red from the clay soil here. The dust is fine and clings to most everthing equally tenaciously. It clouds up when you stamp your feet and your dusty footsteps follow you on every surface you tread upon.
But the mud; the mud, the mud. Red again; rich, soft, gooey; building and forming instantly beneath the pelting rain. Within moments that dirt parking lot you got in and out of your car in with complete impunity is now a swamp. Your feet sink into the sludge and purchase is nearly impossible. You cautiously raise one knee to lift yourself into your parked vehicle, hoping so desperately that the mud doesn't pull down your planted foot and heave you into the swamp. The dust you tracked during the dry season is nothing compared to the goo and mire that you track in out of the mud. Every road you drive on is marked in red by the tires that have slid over it. It sticks to your legs, stains your clothes and cakes the soles of your shoes. And yes, the rich red color is everywhere you go; the floor of the mercado, the floor mats of your car, on the back of your legs. The rainy season.
So we wait and hope that the rain will come. It always does, just look at the handy pictures at the top of this page. As usual we have science on our side helping us to understand. It is with certainty that I believe that this afternoon, just after four, the skies will open and we will receive that hour of drumming, thrumming rain. It will stop just in time for the sunset and the skies will be glorious for it. But soon, it will rain like that all day, every day.
I can't wait.