It’s the Rainy Season Alright! by Suzanne

The rainy season started just about when we arrived – a little early, and with pretty consistent rain – raining about every other or 3rdday, sometimes very hard.  You may have heard about the plane that crashed in Ghana on Saturday – it was during one of those very heavy rains, probably a contributing factor although nothing official has come out about it yet.  I was in Accra returning back to the guesthouse I was staying at right about when the plane crashed, although I didn’t know about it until church the next day.  It was one of those rains that even though I had an umbrella and we were just running from the restaurant to the car, we got soaked. Thankfully I was wearing flip flops – especially since when it rains hard the gutters overflow so Lord knows what you’re stepping in (up to the tops of your feet) to get to the car.  I definitely had a soapy shower when I got in, especially from the knees down!
Termites on our kitchen floor
The funny thing about Ghana and the rain – I say it’s a funny thing but it’s totally normal here – is that when it rains, especially if it rains hard, the power goes out.  Not just sometimes, pretty much every time.  I was talking to Nana my housemate about it this evening, when we were sitting in the dark because it was raining.  She said it’s been that way in Ghana since she was a kid.  She’s lived in the U.S. and also in The Netherlands so she knows that rain doesn’t have to mean no electricity, but in Ghana it just does.  I guess there’s something fundamental about the electric grid here that just doesn’t hold up to the rain.
Dead termites the next morning on the porch
The other thing I learned this trip was how termites swarm after a rain.  This was something I would have been just as happy not experiencing, but in truth it was actually more interesting than freaky (I will admit I was a little freaked at first).  So here’s what happened last Wednesday – it had rained during the day (and yes the light went off, but it was back on at that point), and Nana and I were having a nice dinner and chat in the evening.  It sounded like rain again, although there weren’t the other telltale signs of rain like wind, so I got up to look outside and I saw it: swarms of insects in our kitchen.  I exclaimed and showed Nana and she said, “quick, turn out the light and close the door (to the kitchen)”, so I did.  She calming explained that it was flying ants (termites, actually) and they often swarm like that after a rain.  They are attracted to light.  I was a little concerned (o.k., freaked) that I would need to be heading into the kitchen to do dishes before too long.  When I mentioned this to Nana she said not to worry, they’d be dead soon enough.  Huh?  Turns out the termites essentially flap their wings off, then they become big crawling ants for awhile, then they die.  Seemed like the end of their circle of life just took an hour or two.  So we went to a room full of a cloud of flying termites to a floor littered with crawling ants and their separate wings, to just dead bugs and wings.  I thought it was bad enough inside, but the next morning as I left to catch my ride I saw what awaited me on the porch – boy, am I glad I wasn’t OUTSIDE when that was happening!
Ashesi is just to the right of the middle of the photo,
on the second hill
So, as we were leaving Ashesi this late afternoon there were heavy clouds, clearly laden with rain, to the North.  I was thankful that I’d be home before the rain hit, I knew my colleagues who were going all the way into Accra wouldn’t be so lucky, and driving in Accra traffic is bad enough, it’s just awful in the rain.  When I got home and was opening my bedroom windows to let in the late afternoon breezes after the hot day (today was actually sunny and hot), I saw the clouds pictured lapping at the Ashesi campus on the hill.  Sure enough, after I was home maybe 45 minutes, the winds really picked up, then the rain started, medium rain then very heavy, then… the power went out.  I was grading and using my headlamp anyway (the overhead light in my room isn’t the best for reading – or maybe it’s my getting-old-eyes) so it didn’t really phase me.  By the way, I LOVE MY HEADLAMP!  With a good headlamp (and plenty of batteries), who needs light anyway?  (well, o.k., the water pump and water heater and electric kettle and refrigerator  are definitely nice to have…)
It rained hard again this morning – hard to
capture on camera
I opened the screen to take this photo – maybe
you can see how hard the wind is blowing in
the trees
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