There used to a wet season and a hot season, and they didn’t much overlap. Now is supposed to be hot, sauna hot: 35C is normal, and much higher is possible. It is endless and debilitating, yet labourers can be seen toiling all day on the construction sites that are marching across the capital and South into Luzon. However, these are local people: a brand of super-heroes whose Secret Power is skin like asbestos, and whose lungs have the capacity of a wind-tunnel. They are recognised by their characteristic clothing of a tee-shirt worn over the head and face. Westerners are advised not to emulate them.
They, like me, may have been pleasantly surprised just now by the gentle onset of an unseasonal shower. That’s how it began. The gentle pitter-patter of rain drops on next doors’ roof as I was tipping my rancid clothing into the machine in the Dirty Kitchen. This is not actually dirty but semi-outside and keeps the cooking smells out of the house.
The gentle raindrops, reminiscent of April in England, rapidly gathered force and became the sort of downpour that would have given W.S. Maugham food for thought. The noise of this phenomenon is, well, phenomenal, a real revelation. It combines the rushing of a waterfall as it crashes through the leaves of the mango trees with the deafening drumming of some ancient army on the march. It is common here to have steel roofing and millions of droplets hit hundreds of roofs simultaneously. It is great to watch it from the upstairs window, and see others doing the same.
The transformative power of such downpours is wonderful. The palpable pressure of the heat suddenly lifts, and lungs begin to function more easily. The temperature drops faster than the value of the pound under a Tory government, and cooling breezes slip through the open windows, rippling the imported net curtains. One’s body relaxes.
Outside torrents of water are flushing the drainage channels and sweeping away the mosquitoes that can breed in them. At the back of the house our concrete rain collecting tank, which I estimate holds about 4,000 litres, will by now be overflowing.
In lower lying areas with poor drainage, streets will flood and children will be merrily splashing about, despite their mothers’ protestations. Make the most of it, kids. Already the sudden deluge is ceasing, and tomorrow’s temperatures will be back to normal.