Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Not that I tried very hard, but from what I could dig up online, the expression “right as rain” ‘emerged in the 19th century and took precedence over all the other forms, possibly because of its pleasing alliteration, and also possibly because rain is perceived as good, and causes growth.’
I’ve been thinking about the expression a lot lately, partly because I adore alliteration to a fault, but mostly because it’s been raining pretty much nonstop since my arrival in Costa Rica seven days ago, which I can’t say has felt particularly “right” to me. As I sit here in my damp clothes in my damp apartment drinking my damp coffee typing on my damp laptop and the rain continues to belt down, I find myself wishing the person who coined the phrase was sitting next to me.
It’s “winter” here on the Caribbean coast (I can’t in good conscience write that without the quotation marks; it’s 24 degrees Celsius at 8 am, while in Montreal it’s currently -40 with the wind chill), so frequent rain is as expected as snow is back home. But this is more than frequent. Apart from a couple of hours of sunshine on one afternoon that feels like it was about 700 years ago, we’ve been soaked to the bone. (Also: how long until a body totally depletes its own store of vitamin D?)
There are nice moments of that April-showers-bring-May-flowers, refreshing, happy-sprinkly “what’s the big deal, it’s just a little rain” kind of rain—which break up the straight down, relentless, crashing, crushing, so-loud-you-gotta-yell-to-talk-to-the-person-beside-you, drown-everything-in-its-path-until-the-end-of-the-world, Noah’s Ark kind of rain. It’s all flood and mud all the time, and it’s gross.
Or is it?
An unsolicited message from my friend Eric, who has lived here for a few years, slapped my soggy outlook across the face. “I love the rain,” he shared. “It’s so sunny for such long periods here. This is beautiful.”
“That’s one way to look at it,” I replied with a snort.
And you know? It is. Along with dirt roads, sand banks and a couple of coconut tree groves, the nonstop rain has begun to erode my attitude. Here’s are a few of the realizations I’ve discovered lying beneath it:
You can’t get more than 100% wet.
It Never. Stops. Raining. So if I don’t just go out in it and go about my business as usual, then I won’t go out at all. Three minutes into it I’m as wet as I can possibly get, and that’s it. I can’t be 110% wet (though it’s felt like it on more than one occasion). I’ve gone for bike rides, walks on the beach, grocery shopping, and yesterday a 5k run, all in gargantuan downpours. My clothes will dry out eventually, even if ‘eventually’ means when I’m back home in Canada.
It’s just water.
Seriously. It’s not boiling oil or hydrochloric acid or chocolate chips (just had to throw that in because that one would actually be pretty awesome) — it’s just water. And while it can be one of the most destructive and deadly natural forces on the planet when it’s angry, here it has quenched the desperate thirst of the previous month and is making everything lusher and greener. The birds are chipper and the plants and trees are exploding with flowers and foliage in a thousand different colours, and most of that is happening right outside my front door. My friend Eric was right — it is beautiful.
Umbrellas can seem kind of absurd.
If I were getting dressed up nice to go somewhere important, I could maybe see the use for one. But that never happens here at the beach, so what’s the point in trying to stay dry? My hair has been a riot of downy fuzz exploding from my head since the first moment it came into contact with the 2000% humidity, and my clothes are permanently damp/wet anyway, so, hands-free it is. Also: see “you can’t get more than 100% wet” above.
Rear bike-wheel fenders are essential.
I’ve had the mud-splattered backside to prove it.
Muddy feet come clean.
Remember being fascinated by muck as a kid? Splashing in puddles and making mud pies (which you may or may not have taste-tested)? I’m working on going from being grossed out by the sludge squishing between my toes and splashing onto my legs to just kind of rolling with it. It’s nothing a quick rinse with the garden hose can’t fix.
Nature is pretty freaking cool.
We know where rain comes from of course, but with so much of it falling for such a long stretch, the questions beg asking again from a fresh perspective. How can one sky possibly hold this much water? What is Mother Nature trying to tell us? Where does it all come from? And what if it just never stops? It’s fascinating, if I let it be.
It’s not snow.
If I had to whittle down all these musings to just one, this would be it.
So thank you, rain, for showering me with new perspectives, and for pelting down constant reminders of my good fortune. In all my world travels, I’ve never before, in any country, encountered a full week of perpetual rain. You, Cost Rica, are my first. The fact that I can even be here to experience this freak of nature is something of a little miracle.
I might even start to miss you a little when you’re gone. And somehow, that feels right.
“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow