Maybe you see a few pedestrians, really desperate to get where they're going- nearly all of them slogging through the mud wearing a garbage bag as a poncho, or a small plastic bag as a hat.
The rain is noisy. It falls hard, pounding down on metal roofs and the hard-packed ground.
But other than that, everything is strangely quiet.
All the normal noises of the neighborhood are gone. The deafening hammering of the metal-smith's workshop down the street completely stops. The voices of the dozens of the children that play in the street just outside your front gate have vanished. The tailor's shop courtyard nearby, usually full of whirling pedal sewing machines and chatting, joking, arguing appprentices is silent.
It may rain for a few minutes.. or a few hours, but while it does, time stops. Nothing gets done, nobody goes anywhere. And that makes sense. The rains are usually hard and blinding, making it impossible to safely travel. Even in a car, visibility can be reduced to nearly nothing.
And most of life's daily activities in Burkina are carried out outdoors. Places like mechanics' garages, tailors' shops and carpenters' workshops might have a small shack or some kind of shelter, but certainly not enough covered space for everyone to work out of the rain.
Even in homes, not much can be done. A kitchen , for most Burkinabé people, is simply a corner outside with a fire and a branch or rock to sit on. No tables, no countertops, no cupboards, no roof.
Everyone rushes to shelter- maybe first pausing to get all the drying laundry and other vulnerable items gathered up and out of the wet. At our house, our guardians Salif and Rasmane would run to grab the patio furniture and pile it up next to the house, well under the terrace roof and out of the reach of the driving rain that would sometimes seem to fall nearly sideways.
People do what they have to do, then wait for it to pass.
And it always does.
It stops suddenly, like someone turing off a fire hose. Then the big West African sun pops out and everything seems to dry out in an instant. Cooking pots go back outside, the laundry is re-hung on walls and across shrubs, commuters get back on their bikes and mopeds and the smith's apprentices start hammering away again. The chairs are once more nicely arranged on the patio. And everything goes on like usual until tomorrow, when it will rain again.
The rain here in France is so...strange. It's hard for me to get used to gray and drizzly skies for days on end. I feel like everything should just stop. But it can't. This is Europe. If everyone stopped moving the minute rain fell, doom and disaster would result. At least, I guess so...
I took a "rain day" yesterday. I had decided that the rain wouldn't stop because it wasn't getting the respect it deserved. Maybe a moment of silence and stillness was all it wanted from us?
I didn't go anywhere. I didn't do any laundry. In fact, I didn't do anything terribly useful except for cook a couple of meals. I played games with the kids, read a novel, surfed the internet and watched tv on my computer. It was, in fact, a great day.
It did not, however, stop the rain.
So, today I'm back to rainy days, Euro-style. It's nearly noon and still pouring rain, but I've already been to the dump with a load of bad junk, the recycling center with my good junk, the public treasury to pay the water bill, the store to buy cat litter, etc. I guess that's how they do it here. But I miss the strange peacefullness of the Burkina rain...