04 June 2009


(Southern Sudan - 2007)

A storm is whipping about the branches of the trees outside my window. There is nothing quite like a good storm, as long as you are safely, warmly under a sturdy roof. Like everyone, I went through a stage when I was little when I was afraid of thunder and lightning. In my teens, we lived in a house with a huge tree right next to my bedroom, which had no attic. The first thing that tree would fall on, if it went down, was me. So I wasn't scared, exactly, but sometimes in very severe thunderstorms I would go sleep on the opposite side of the house.

It was when I moved to Rwanda that I first really encountered a thunderstorm alone. I loved them, even though I lived in a house nestled under a large steep hill that screamed "landslide." Sometimes I would hear the clatter of rocks as a little part of the hill slide down where it had been scooped out to make room for the house. I found the storms more comforting than scary, though.

The only time I have been afraid of a storm, as an adult, was in Sudan. The one-room tukuls we lived in had wide screen windows to let the breeze in, and I got stuck in my tukul instead of the more sheltered mess hall when the storm hit. There was literally no way to leave my tukul without being instantly soaked to the bone. I couldn't see the mess hall let alone walk the 50 meters to it. The yard turned to mud and the water collected in four-inch pools. The rain was blowing sideways into my windows. I thought the lightning was going to get me, seriously.

Oooh. I just saw a triple-forked lightning.

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