Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cats and Dogs

I woke this morning to see sunlight filtering through my curtains – it was very exciting. I sent a text to the dive shop to see if the boat was going out; made arrangements to meet a friend for brunch; the day was full of promise... then someone turned the lights out and the taps on. Yes readers, it is rainy season – occasionally it can be sunny and fresh, but mostly it’s dark, grey and the rain is coming down in sheets. Monsoon: the kind of rain that will soak you to the skin before you’ve even reached the front gate.

Usually the rain is accompanied by a crazy wind – leaving a café the other evening, I was nearly swept off my feet! There’s no escape from the Habagat (wind) because all the shops and restaurants barricade themselves in to keep the sand at bay. Walking down the beach is braving a wind-tunnel gauntlet: there are 10m high windbreaks on your right and boards and screens to your left. The sand whips past, stinging and blinding. Bah! Some tropical paradise! There are rumours of a typhoon coming... I have mixed feelings: part of me actually wants to experience a typhoon; the other part knows it will be horrible and inevitably some (or many) will loose their houses.

From the Lookout, at the top of The Hill, you can clearly see that Boracay is really two small islands joined by low spit of land, practically a sand bar. I live on the sand bar and we are frequently flooded. Around me it’s rarely above ankle deep, but in the centre of the island it has reached mid-calf-nearly-knees a few times. Many of the houses are not linked to any sewage system, so I resist thinking about what I might be walking in. Many buildings are raised, but not all. There are a few houses around the corner, who are living ankle deep in water. They appear to carry on regardless: a few days ago I saw a family in their flooded kitchen, sitting around the table having supper. I suppose there's not much else they can do.

Yesterday, there was a large bull tied up next to the path – complete with horns – I think he usually lives in the swamp, which is currently the lagoon. I was a bit scared! Bulls are always larger than one is mentally prepared for. I hovered on the path for a few minutes, then a couple of small children waltzed past – so I thought perhaps I could handle it.

People try to time their comings and goings with the weather. When it starts getting grey we decide: do I need to be anywhere else in the near future? If yes, move now! It is always a tragedy to get stuck in a bar for the whole evening! When the rain stops, people emerge from their shelter, blinking at the sun like little bears in the spring.

Still, only a few more weeks, then paradise will resume... but I wish I taken Mrs Botogol’s advice and bought those wellies!

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