Country Living

Come Drought, Rain, Hurricane . . . or Strike?

DSC03161bIn Jamaica, there’s a rule of thumb we live by:

Always have water catch up.

From I likkle bit, I know dis. Always have an old, five-gallon paint bucket; an old plastic barrel; a pail; a metal drum; a baby bath; a pot; a juice jug, filled with clean water and covered. Have at least one in the kitchen, the bathroom and outside if you have space.


As an island with dry, rainy and hurricane seasons, it’s part of our preparedness.

Peak rainfall in Jamaica generally occurs in October and then May. As a child, I remember hearing about “May rains”. Adults used to love talk about “May rains”, a period of heavy showers and perhaps flooding. Can’t remember hearing about “October rains” though. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention.

Jamaica’s main dry season is December to April. And we also experience drought during the summer, which is, of course, the most scorching time of year.

Then there’s hurricane season from June 1 to November 30. It’s a time of finger-crossing and praying that nothing out in the Atlantic come blow breath on us.

I, personally, have been terrorized by Allen, Gilbert, Ivan and Dean. Hurricane-force winds howling and beating against your doors, windows (and for some people roofs and whole houses) leaves you wondering why God couldn’t just leave out the hurricane part when he was forming the islands in the Caribbean Sea.

If you do the math, you’ll see we spend most months under threat of water supply disruption.

Last Wednesday, Jamaica was still in dry season. Imagine my shock and horror when I spin di bathroom tap and see water trickling out. No, not a good thing. The low pressure meant water lock-off pending, which meant run go catch up more water. NOW!

Well, just as I suspected, the water trickled down to nothing. And I did what any sensible Jamaican would do: pinch-pinch the water I had in storage, run to the tap every minute to check if water come back and pray seh mi don’t have to bathe from a bucket when night come.

Well, night come. I spin the tap, and there’s plenty air. I call National Water Commission (NWC), only to hear seh dem on strike, customer service can’t reach anyone in operations, and the situation is not expected to change tonight.

I had two choices. I could either cuss NWC from sunset to sunrise or grab a cup, haul mi water container to the shower and bathe. If you’re Jamaican, you know that soap-up, scoop-up and rinse-off thing we must do in times like these.

Bright and early Thursday morning, I spin the tap again. So-so air. Newscasters are reporting that NWC workers are back on the job. Hurray, strike done! But then I call NWC and they say, strike nuh done.

I tell the customer service rep that I want to bathe. I tell the customer service rep that I’m pinch-pinching my water, and tank God fi di likkle whey mi did have catch up. I tell her, I need to go supermarket (which wasn’t 100% true-true-true), so I have to bathe. She apologizes and assures me that by later in the morning, they should know what’s going on.

You ever realize the only time you well want to bathe is when you don’t have any water in the tap?

On any given morning, you have no problem waiting until midday to bathe. You might all go through di whole day and don’t bathe. But mek di water lock off. All of a sudden, yuh skin feel like it crawling, and you have to bathe. Yuh going to keel over and collapse–if you don’t bathe. Yuh going to start stink, right dis minute; you haffi bade.

So, I lounge around on the loveseat in front of the television, not seeing a thing on the screen because my mind is on water and bathing. I can’t write a word or edit a thing because I just have to bathe first.

Mid-morning rolls around. I spin the kitchen tap. Glorious water gushes out. And, like Usain Bolt (or Asafa Powell, you choose), I sprint upstairs and go hol’ a fresh.

Catch yuh next time!

Peace and love,

PS. My heart goes out to the people of Dominica and the Bahamas. My dear friends, we know the trauma is great. But hold the faith and know that we are praying for your quick recovery.

Interesting notes for you:

  1. Hol’ a fresh = to have a bath/shower



2 thoughts on “Come Drought, Rain, Hurricane . . . or Strike?”

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.