I was told that there had been little to no rain in Trinidad for the past few months, and things were getting desperate. Not only were drinking and house-hold water levels low, but there was not nearly enough water to keep the fields and crops watered. Entire farms were drying out, and the numbers must have been into the millions of lost produce. The sun was only just starting to poke its nose when I was driving from the airport, but already I could see dozens of scattered plumes of smoke in the nearby fields. The air was thick as ever, but there was still an odd dryness in the atmosphere. The tall grasses were brown and dead, and the deep roadside ditches were empty of their usual small streams.
It had rained very little over the previous months, and not once was it enough to regain crop growth or raise water levels. It was actually supposed to be rainy season on the island, but there had been a drastic change in the weather. Dry season had experienced substantial precipitation, and this wet season was closer to a drought than anything. The car kicked up clouds of dust as it sped along the dirt road toward the house that I would be staying at. The sugar-cane fields whirring by the windows looked lifeless and grey, and rustled loudly in the dry wind. I had never seen Trinidad quite like this before, and I was just as confused as everyone, about the unexplained trade in weather pattern.
I had finally arrived at the house, and lugged all my bags up to my room. I had just changed out of my travel-clothes, and began to settle in, when I heard it… It started like a quiet pitter patter; random and in scattered locations. Then I smelled it–that strong aroma of wet cement, and liquid mixing with the thick heat of the air. Within seconds, a deafening roar of sound had spread itself across the entire room, coming from the echoing tin roof above my head. Three months-worth of pent up moisture from atmosphere, was unleashing itself over the island in the form of a sudden, torrential downpour. It was raining.
The following days were a mixture of dealing with the current rain, and suffering from the previous drought. Water levels may have been rising, but they were not yet clean enough to start distributing to the general public, and water systems. Water allowances were still on circulation, allowing each town to have running water for two out of seven days of the week. This meant that if you have running water on Mondays and Thursdays, the next town over might have water on Tuesdays and Fridays, and so on. This also meant that on the five days of the week without running water, it proved rather difficult to have a shower or brush your teeth. Showering involved retrieving a bucket of water from the above-ground-well in the backyard, carrying it up the stairs (thereby losing most of it along the way), and standing with a cup and cloth in the bathtub. Washing your hair was not really an option, and I was spooked by a number of small lizards seeking shelter from the downpours, through the many air holes in the bathroom walls.
The rains continued for days, causing flooding in the streets and gardens. Roadways turned into river-ways, and all of the roadside ditches became over-running moats. Cars looked like boats, chugging upstream in an active rapid system. There was a continuous roar coming from the rickety tin roofs, and any quiet moment was filled with the symphony of birds, celebrating the break in the rain. Trinidad was finally waking up after three months of neglect, and the island was buzzing with life.
For a better idea of the downpours, check out this video.