Every Time It Rains, I Go Home Again to Central America

 Photo courtesy of Nikolay Zakharov via Unsplash

Photo courtesy of Nikolay Zakharov via Unsplash

Every time it rains, I go home again to Central America.

When I am loading my car with groceries, and it is raining, I am immediately transported to Central America in the rainy season. When I was a child, living in Honduras with my parents, Dad drove an old, open, Army Jeep with a rackety, tin roof. The roof was supposed to be an upgrade from the tarp tops, but it was a problem when it rained. It was screwed together. The side and back windows were a scratched up clear plastic somehow screwed onto the tin top. Whenever it rained, it was a sieve.

My brothers and I would always try to get the best seat in the house, based on where we could stay dry. But we weren’t the priority on those trips during those torrential rains. My parents would always instruct us, “Watch the groceries back there, or whatever purchase we had made, so they don’t get wet”.  But they always got wet….along with us.

Today, when I slide my groceries into my small Toyota Prius in the midst of a monsoon, I think, “Put the groceries in this corner over here where they won’t get wet”. And I get homesick for Honduras while appreciating “no leaks” in my small car. And we all arrive dry to my attached garage. I don’t even get wet unloading my car.

When I drive home on paved highways in the pouring rain, I get homesick for Central America.  Back to another old jeep story. Dad would often take us out to the villages up in the mountains. We loved those trips, but during the rainy season, it often meant another great adventure as we would frequently get stuck in the mud. When you are in a vast area of mud that almost swallows up your jeep, four wheel drive doesn’t help at all. We would end up sitting there (or getting to wade in the mud to a dry spot to sit) and waiting for someone to come along with an ox cart or a horse to pull us out.

Years later, when I lived in Honduras for several years, I would run into the same problem when I made a trip to a remote village in the rainy season.  Only this time, I didn’t drive a Jeep but a fancy four wheel drive, Blazer. I had to sit there and wait for a farmer to come along with his oxen. I wonder if the farmer would talk about these “women drivers” as he ate his beans and rice at home that evening or brag about the dependability of his oxen.

Today, when I am driving in the rain, I am thankful for solid roads as I have not seen any oxen lately that could pull me out of a jam. I know, I could call a tow truck, but I prefer to get pulled out by an oxen. Roads and mud and rain remind me of Honduras.

When it is a heavy rain, and I hear it hitting my windows of my home in Indiana.  I miss Central America. My dorm, in boarding school in Siguatepeque, had a tin roof and open windows with wooden shutters. If it was a gentle rain, we listened to the rain on the tin roof. It was a comforting sound. If it was torrential, we had to lean out into the rain and close the shutters, hoping we would not get struck by lightning the process. That fear was not unfounded or comforting, as more than once we saw lightning strike a tree near our dorm.

Sound machines, that have the option of falling rain, don’t capture the gentle lullaby of a gentle rain on a tin roof. Rain on a tin roof and the stuffiness of the air due to the closed windows puts me right back in Central America.

When I am dashing between raindrops under my umbrella between stores, I miss Central America. For a number of years, I lived in Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras. I didn’t need the option of four wheel drive with my Blazer in the streets of the capital city. BUT, I often would whop people walking on the sidewalk with my side mirrors, as I would (some of the time) slowly navigate the narrow, winding, city streets.

But it was a problem to walk during a heavy downpour in the city. The drains in the streets could not handle the volume of rain during the rainy season, so the streets would often flood. If you walked through puddles of water, you never knew if you were stepping into a two inch deep puddle or a deep, open hole. You could be in for a very rude surprise or a broken leg by walking through puddles. I have had to rescue more than one tourist from a puddle.  Umbrellas are pretty useless in a tropical rainstorm.

What is the sensory experience you have that puts you back in the world where you grew up? Is it a good cup of tea? The smell of a particular spice? Or the thud of a soccer ball hitting a goalpost?

There are times, when I miss Honduras and I purposely go to a hispanic restaurant or an ethnic shop to have a multiple sensory overload and experience home once again! If I have to dodge raindrops to run into the shop or restaurant, even better!