Life during Rainy Season: A Study in Human (Mis)behavior

19 Oct

Just in case, you have never experienced Life during Rainy Season, I am going to describe the experience instead of seeing a therapist.  This way is much cheaper. Rainy Season, in a tropical setting, is similar to an eighth grade after-school lock-down (but in a steam bath, with a lot of insects and mud.)  A Rainy Season can last anywhere from 2 months (i.e., Costa Rica) to 6 months (i.e., Tanzania), but in a steam bath, with a lot of insects and mud, and people acting like eighth graders.  And yes, it does rain every day.

Generally, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues close down for the Rainy Season.  So both locals and tourists flee during Rainy Season, leaving only a few brave and/or chemically-imbalanced, and/or too-poor-to-leave people, left to their own vices.  Rain, floods and mud (Oh my!) restrict travel in and out of a town, or village.  Critical shortages of basic household goods (like toilet paper and tampons), smokes, rolling papers, and staple foods, turn everyone Darwinist: fend for yourselves!

People cannot go outside without getting soaked or muddy, and in combination with the lack of sunshine and exercise, you have all the ingredients for classic “hut fever”.  In addition, everything is wet–all of the time.  There is always mud on, in, over, and under everything. If you have a dog, your house smells like wet dog for the entirety of Rainy Season. (And nothing gets that smell out, trust me!)

You can see how all these assaults on the five senses, and depravity of basic human needs, might create some psychological side-effects.  I have noticed a clear pattern in human behavior, during Rainy Season, which is ambivalent to race, religion, creed, language, tribe, country, or sex, based on my Rainy Season experiences on three continents:

  1. Phase 1: The Honeymoon

A temporary state of bliss at the idea of no traffic, no tourists, no noise, no crowds, no lines, and no work!

“Now, I finally have some time to myself to (insert verb of your choice: relax, start yoga, read, exercise, practice sobriety, learn Chinese, write my play, paint, sculpt, or lose 10 pounds) “:  this phase generally last about two weeks.

  1. Phase 2:  Boredom

After about a week or two of enjoying one’s solitude, reading one book or painting one canvas, people start to get bored. Then they start searching for other bored people.  These bored people tend to find each other at the local bar, at church, or at the supermarket.

“What have you been up to?”

“Oh, I started my screenplay…blah, blah, blah.”

“Oh, I started an herb garden…blah, blah, blah.”

“Oh, I read ‘A New Earth’, have you read it yet?”

  1. Phase 3:  Intense Connections

Intense Connections phase is my favorite part of Rainy Season, although only slightly longer than the Honeymoon Phase.  Once bored people have found other bored people, they start to gather and be creative.  They have house parties (which sometimes include costumes), pool parties (sometimes in the buff!), beach bonfires, game nights, poetry readings, writing groups, and potlucks.

Instantly, intense relationships form (both romantic and platonic.)  Note:  This is when your partner is mostly like to have an adulterous affair—especially, if you left him or her stranded, alone, throughout the Rainy Season.  There is a huge spike in casual sexual activity (shhh…there is not much else to do!)

However, the Rainy Season relationship survival rate is frighteningly low.  If you are lucky, you will find 2 or 3 “keepers”, or authentic friendships.  (My keepers already know who they are!)

  1. Phase 4:  Reality, Or Who the hell are these people?

Like the eighth grade, this phase begins when cliques form; gossip spreads like herpes; territories are marked; and most of the rainy season couples start to dismantle and feel guilty (or not.)   This is when reality sets in and you realize you are stuck in the middle of nowhere in the rain, stranded, with people you don’t actually know, or like, for that matter.  Stuck with people you would never hang out with, any other time of year.

This is when people get a little coo-coo for cocoa puffs and start demonstrating abnormal behavior (aka, “acting out”):  like dancing naked in cemeteries; eating dirt with cottage cheese; trying to make home-made tattoos; starting fights at bars; throwing public tantrums; etc.

  1. Phase 5: Isolation

Isolation is the last phase of Life during Rainy Season.  It is return to solitude, while slamming and locking the door behind you.  It is refusing to take phone calls, or answer emails, from your neighbors.  This is when you ask yourself, “What the hell am I doing here?”  Is everyone mad as a hatter in this town? Is everyone bi-polar? Is everyone an alcoholic? Or both?  Am I?  “Am I turning into one of them?!!!!”

In order to avoid this well documented roller-coaster of phases in Life during Rainy Season, some people opt to start and stay in isolation phase the entire Rainy Season.  These people incur quirky monikers in their noted absence, like “Joe the Pervert” or “Riggo the Fat Chef”, etc.  Generally, they give the impression of being anti-social, chemically-imbalanced or suspect.

However, I can find no tangible evidence, thus far, as to which path, isolation or the roller-coaster, has the most fulfilling results.  Someone who selects isolation, in order to deal with Life during Rainy Season, may (or may not) achieve enlightenment and peace.  However, they could possibly be slipping further into madness.

Those that go through all five roller-coaster phases, may survive with an authentic friend or two.  Or, if they have not procured a “keeper”, an authentic friend, then they usually opt for full-time isolation next Rainy Season.

I am still studying which path is the most fulfilling in the long run.  This Rainy Season, I decided to ride the roller-coaster.  Can you guess which phase I am in now?

The good news is that just following isolation phase, just when you are on the verge of boredom again, ahh….the rain stops.  New people and old friends, family and colleagues return.  This is cause for great celebration because you are thinking, “Thank god/allah/buddha/Vishnu, you guys came back; we missed you so much!”  Because people are slippery when wet.

Kelly N Patterson


5 Responses to “Life during Rainy Season: A Study in Human (Mis)behavior”

  1. Traveling Photographer, Amanda November 11, 2009 at 6:44 pm #

    What a great rundown! I visited Costa Rica last year ( Manuel Anotonio and Arenal ) and I’m leaning towards Nosara this year. I’m going to google exactly when this rainy season happens. I did get some emails returned to the turn of ( it sucks here Sept – Oct. ) …. so I’m assuming somewhere around that time.

    What a fantastic rundown! I found your blog through CS and I’m saving it to read more!

    • kellyofthepattersons November 11, 2009 at 7:29 pm #

      Thanks for writing me, Amanda! If you ever come this way, please contact me and we can meet up and have a martini! Pura bebida!

  2. rjlevin11 March 24, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    haha, So true! I just read the blog .. I love rainy season, time to hunker down.. its like a giant snow storm to me… except MUCH warmer (thank goodness) and a little wetter.. unless you talk about east coast snow which is cold and wet (Yuck)… I find time to do crafts and knit and watch lots of TV! Here in the Osa.. it has rained in October every day all day for 4-6 weeks.

  3. msnaomicolb March 24, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    Yes, It is good to make local friends during the dry season to hang out with when it is raining:) I also have some Pau d’Arco tincture for my tea to combat mold in the lungs and some organic Neem oil to fend off the few metropolitan bugs during the rainy season:) One of the reasons I am settling in the old part of San Jose, the capital, is that I needn’t worry about landslides blocking the roads to supplies, friends and events. 🙂 The museums, theatres, local Bohemian haunts and seminar spaces, orgnic market and AutoMercado are walkng distance:) My laptop is also setup for downloadable films and I LOVE watching TED talks and stirring up trouble on Facebook:) Here is a link to a story from the OSHO Zen Transformational Tarot about the Rainy Season, a Monk and a Courtesan Enjoy!

  4. eliza beth March 25, 2012 at 1:27 am #

    Haha kelly sounds like winter in iowa…

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