Friday, 10 December 2010
Here Comes The Rain Again
To the uneducated soul, Cyprus is all about the sunshine, long lazy days spent all year round on golden sands , gazing at azure skies and sapphire seas. On the whole that’s right. Although, they neglect to tell you about the rain. Yes, the rain.
When it rains in Cyprus, it rains big. Massive fat , stinging drops that pelt at monsoon proportions in solid sheets of water. It’s quite a spectacle to see, especially when accompanied by the cacophonous thunder claps and huge white zig-zags of lightning that tear across the sky. Torrents of water scream down in minutes washing away inches of dusty topsoil and flooding the streets till they resemble a crazy tangle of gurgling brown rapids. It is at times like these that we learn that the network of three-feet deep Storm Drains actually serve an architectural purpose and are not just strategically placed traps to weed out the more drunken individuals who stumble their way through short-cuts to home only to unwittingly find themselves up-ended with a face-full of dry leaves staring out a cockroach or two. Turf-less gardens are transformed into magical, mysterious marsh-lands, and murky lakes, the enormous puddles luring children with false promises that their depths do not exceed the tops of their wellies.
Today is the day that the Cypriots were hoping for. After an unfeasibly long, hot and dry summer, the authorities were beginning to fear that an equally dry winter would result in the kind of water shortages that have crippled the island in previous summers. A couple of summers ago, the disastrous combination of a virtually rainless winter season and a typically hot summer resulted in the enforcement of water rationing across the island. Households were limited to only a few hours of running water per day and simple tasks such as laundry became a struggle. The Cyprus government appealed to neighbouring Greece for shipments of water and they even wheeled out the local Church Councillors in mass services to pray for a break in the weather. So, as you may realise, those big drops that fall from the sky are a precious and very welcome commodity indeed.
That being said, you would think that when the rain begins, the Cypriots are prepared for the torrential downpours that they have anticipated for so long. Umm, no. Somehow this entirely natural phenomenon seems to take the locals by surprise every time. Roads are closed, the already too high road traffic rate sky-rockets, I suspect because the drivers are so taken aback by the spectacle of the rain that they forgot that a dangerous and slippery road, awash with mud and silt lays treacherously before them. I have witnessed cars stopping dead in the road as the drivers screech to a halt to contemplate Nature in all her glory. You seriously need your wits about you if you take to the wheel on a day like this. In addition, electricity grids topple, television studios are fragged (probably because at the first drop of rain, the cameramen are out to record the event, which is then broadcast simultaneously on every Cypriot channel like some great terrestrial disaster).
Personally, I love the thunderstorms at night. Despite being a small island, our climate seems pretty diverse and localised. The Troodos mountains are a classic example, when the snows come, you can spend the morning skiing and sledging, then come down to the coast for a picnic on a sunny beach. Fabulous. Anyway, I have the privilege of a stunning view of the mountains from my bedroom window. Sometimes, on a perfectly dry Akrotiri night we can witness the spectacle of a lightning storm raging across the mountains and beyond. Great gashes of light that streak from east to west, impressive flashes of electric purple, a pyrotechnic show of awesome and terrible proportions. Cyprus certainly offers the whole shebang of extreme weather conditions.
Tonight the Officers’ Mess is holding its’ Christmas Draw. I do feel sorry for the poor ladies who will be attempting to negotiate the streets with newly coiffed hairdos , wearing delicate heels and gowns not likely to be of water resistant material. There is also talk of a Tornado heading our way, so keep your fingers crossed that the Weather Gods aren’t narked with us right now.
As for me, I’ll be sat with a soothing coffee watching my kids negotiate the newly-formed water park that used to be our garden. No doubt I’ll be emptying their wellies later.