This was the scene on my street yesterday afternoon. After several hours of humid-smelling breezes, rumbles of thunder and darkening skies, the clouds finally turned loose just a little and we had about an hour of moderate spinkles in my neighborhood. It wasn't really much of a rain by local standards, but it was a start and a hopeful sign that more is on the way.
We haven't had a significant rain in months. Rainy season normally runs from late May or early June until about November. So the rains are a little late. In nearby pueblos and in the outskirts of Mérida people report some recent squalls but in the city and many parts of the region, we haven't had such luck. Right here in centro the few very light afternoon drizzles we have had evaporated as they hit the ground and did little more than make the streets feel like a sauna.
The Wednesday Diario de Yucatán featured an article stating that 40 percent of the country is experiencing the worst drought in 70 years. Things are pretty bad for a lot of folks. A good thing about Yucatán is that most of the peninsula pretty much floats on a huge fresh-water aquifer. Just about anywhere you can drill a well and come up with abundant water. My well here in Mérida, on the coastal slope and fairly near the Gulf of Mexico, is seven meters or about 23 feet deep. The water I pump for my garden and topping off the pool is cool and crystal clear. We're in the city so I wouldn't drink it, but it is perfectly safe for swimming. If a situation ever arises in which other sources of water fail, I could easily treat my well water and use it for drinking.
So although it is very dry, in Yucatán we're doing better than many other regions.
Although it wasn't a big rain, yesterday's fall was enough to qualify as the season's official first at my house: I always discover a new roof leak during the first significant rain of the season, and yesterday was leak-day around here. I was walking through the bedroom after the shower when a drop hit me in the forehead. A good-sized puddle had formed on the floor.
I went up on the roof and looked at the spot. Sure enough, I found a hairline crack in the waterproof coating I thought I had thoroughly checked about a month ago. Today I climbed back up with a glob of thick roofing tar and a spatula and sealed the crack.
The work didn't take long, and I was happy to be doing it. The annual roof-leak ritual marks the imminent end of the hot, tedious final weeks of the dry season and the beginning of the rains. It's a sign that we will soon be enjoying lower temperatures, less dust, fresher air, and will witness a rapid, lush greening of gardens, parks, and all of the Yucatán countryside.