We were sitting in the bank, waiting to cash our travellers cheques when it started to rain. The clouds had been gathering for days, thick and grey, lowering the sky, but we hadn’t thought about rain. In Nusa Tengara the weather had been fine, blue skies and trade winds, for half a year at least.
In a few minutes this all changed. Rumbling thunder, then watery splats as, one after another, the first swollen drops fell onto the road. For a moment the rain was spaced out, falling here and there, but then the cloud truly burst, and it pelted down.
“Good thing we’re inside aye”
We hadn’t thought about rain, but everyone else was waiting for it. The water filled the streets with children. Running out of houses and buildings, laughing and clapping, shouting and dancing. An impromptu football match kicked off. Teenage men skidding across the tarmac, chasing a semi-deflated ball as it splashed between the puddles. Some of the younger kids simply stood, their hands held up, catching raindrops, smiling at the sky. Adults gathered in the eves of buildings, shouting greetings and jokes out across the weather.
I shared a bemo with a Dutch guy once, who told me that the end of the dry season was a time of hunger in South East Indonesia, and that the rain meant the end of this. But these people were celebrating, living in the town where I’m guessing food didn’t run out. Maybe it was still habit, or maybe times really were rough, or maybe they were just glad for the change.
It only lasted fifteen minutes then petered out. At its end we wandered into the street, amongst the running children, talkative adults and the steamy, sated smell of the Earth replenished with water.