A Rainy Rumination

By Callie Middlebrook
Jan. 26, 2018

Mother nature and I have been playing a game.

It's like musical chairs, but instead of chairs there are coffee shops and in place of music we have rain.  It's January in the Highlands of Madagascar and though the morning air hangs as warm and heavy as a wet blanket, each afternoon the clouds release themselves in a display that can only be described as torrential.

This mixture of sunshine, heat, and water, makes for excellent planting weather.  As an agriculture volunteer serving in the Highlands, it means that now is my busy season. Be it helping a neighbor in their rice field, working in my own yard, or readying the school garden for planting, there is always something to do.

Each afternoon though, as the sky darkens and I find that I have yet again miscalculated the rate of the approaching storm; I know that the game is on.  Bolting in the direction of home and abandoning the field, I seek shelter in the homes of others, allowing shouts of "mandroso" or "enter" to guide me towards warmth.

coffee madagascar
Losing this game of cat and mouse sometimes means drinking endless cups of coffee with new friends.
Sometimes the rain lasts for hours, transforming potholes to lakes and pathways to rivers, but more frequently it comes in waves—crashing down on a tin roof in a deafening roar, and then pausing, as if mother nature herself found the exertion exhausting. These are my moments. Leaving comfort behind I boldly head in the direction of home, simply hoping to outrun the rain or find safety before the next round begins.

The unending hospitality of the Malagasy people means that in this cat and mouse game the rain and I are playing, I usually win. The sporadic nature of it forces me out of my comfort zone and into the kindness of strangers, spending afternoons placing pots beneath leaky roofs, stirring a vat of rice, or drinking endless cups of coffee with new friends.

Today however, I lost. The rain caught up with me as I crossed a long section of rice field before my village, not a home or human in sight. As I resigned myself to the liquid beating and stared out at the acres of young rice plants thirstily drinking their fill, it didn't really feel like losing at all.