01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Cooling down 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Cooling down

It has gone all rainy here in Nairobi - always good news to Kenyans and very gratefully received - no one ever complains about rain - but this means it has cooled down noticeably too. Our 'summer' is over just as the UK begins its warmer season far away. There is still worry that it is not raining enough here - that the city reservoirs are not yet full - but to me the long rains do seem to be finally in full swing.

Here, the light levels have dropped since last month - though the sun usually manages to blaze forth at some point. It's all muddy shoes caused by woeful lack of pavements. Rolled up trouser legs, umbrellas (if you have one), wellingtons and washing shoes in brown puddles. Motorists thoughtlessly spray hapless pedestrians with standing water. In rain, traffic slows down to a near standstill. There's a need to mow the grass regularly after months of dry weather. The dogs slink in with muddy paws then get shouted at and the mop is working overtime. Washing takes forever to dry. It's also time for planting.

I must be honest, it's not exactly cold - usually warmer to be outside than sitting still, inside the cool of the house. The tarmac still steams when it rains and anvil shaped blue grey clouds release sporadic heavy, localised downpours between sunny spells. The scenery has changed from parched - red or pale brown earth, dust clouds and yellow, spiky dead grass - to a vivid, bushy green. Newly born calves have joined the herds of once skinny cattle grazing on the side of the road and baby goats bounce or spin about, not yet schooled in road awareness.

At home we are trying to set up a system of rainwater collection (masterminded by my husband and his visiting dad). There are now clear hosepipes trailing over the lawn, leading from small, gauze covered tanks, to our underground water storage. It all looks a little Heath Robinson to me with bits of pvc held down by rocks but I am assured that there is a more permanent grand plan in the making.

This rainy season will eventually lead us into Nairobi's overcast months of July and August where it does get dry again but a little chilly and us expats dream wistfully of long summer evenings, clinking glasses in Europe - but for now, we are just grateful for the rain.

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