When I tell people I can generally know when it might rain, I am usually am referring to the large picture – that fact that in my hometown it will most likely rain in the months between October and June. Slightly helpful yes, even if a little depressing. But here, rain comes almost to the minute each day, nature’s way of helping us get used to our new routine.
I have woken up every morning to sunshine so far, the light streaming through our window waking me before my alarm goes off at 7:30. A sunshiny breakfast, then the light making us squint as it enters our main meeting room through a dozen or so skylights as we attend training. We wait on sun-warmed bricks for lunch and enjoy the bright room as we enjoy soup and rice. Afternoon classes and talks start and then almost on cue so does the rain.
Sometimes it creeps in at lunch, sprinkling the green lawn while darker, more ominous clouds hover not far in the distance. Sometimes it is accompanied by loud claps of thunder or a cool breeze whisking through our open doors and windows, causing our group of volunteers to run for their jackets before going back to their lessons or note-taking. Either way, the rain always comes in heavy, torrents of water beating against those skylights. We can hear it rushing off the roof and afterwards dripping from the trees and flowers surrounding the home we are staying in. Usually this only last a couple minutes – though the clouds stick around all evening like it’s the middle of November in Seattle and once I was lucky enough to fall asleep to the rain still pounding against the roof and walls of our safe and warm home.
Other sounds are becoming more natural as well in our first week – the creak of our bedroom door, the laughter of our group, the hilarious hee-haw of the local donkey. We are getting better at picking out the smells of fried plantains, tamales, and meats, as well as the smell of the grass and flowers before and after it rains. I can distinguish between plantain, yucca, and potato in my soup and successfully feel around under my bed for my stash of Colombian pesos.
In short, after our first week it is incredible to me that I have been here only those short seven days. My knowledge of my new home has been constantly widened after talks on the Colombian economy and education system. My floundering under the idea of teaching has been thrown an ever-ascending rescue line through training and examples of reading, listening, and speaking activities, refreshers on English grammar, and continuous lesson-planning examples and practice. And my command of the local language is already growing through our Spanish classes and picking up a couple of words in Colombian slang.
I like where we’re living, the other volunteers, the WorldTeach staff running the orientation and training, the Colombians helping us out at training and keeping up the house, and our mission for the year we’re here. So far, it’s all chevere – it’s all cool.
Even if that refers to our change in weather every afternoon and the fact I probably should have packed an umbrella.