The rainy season in Yucatán goes from June 1 to November 30 and this time of year has very special meaning for Yucatecos. For starters, rain puts people in an excellent mood, mostly because it brings cooler weather which is desperately needed after the scorching months of April and May. But every good Yucateco knows that not everything is peace and love during this time of year. I’ll tell you all about our relationship with the rain.
Rain in the Time of the Maya
Going back to the Maya, the rainy season was a much anticipated time of year. Chaac, the god of rain, was one of the main deities that the Maya worshipped (especially in the Puuc region where natural water reserves are scarce). They dedicated entire temples to Chaac and decorated them with stone masks of his unique profile as well as turtles, frogs, and other symbols they associated with water. Even today, when we get a heavy rain after a long drought, we joke that “Chaac heard us.”
When we receive a heavy rain, there is a sigh of relief all over the state. Generally speaking, rains occur in the afternoon, don’t last very long, and once they’re finished the day moves along. If you don’t have anything else on your schedule, there’s nothing better than staying home and listening to the downpour. The best way to spend a stormy afternoon is swinging in your hammock, dunking Pan Dulce into hot chocolate, and watching the neighborhood children play in puddles and under runoff pipes.
After a storm in Yucatán, you can expect the instant appearance of mosquitos and mysterious potholes that weren’t there a few hours back. Also, streets that are so flooded they spill over the sidewalk and make waves when cars pass by. But a heavy rain will also bring a concert of “ribbit, ribbits” from happy frogs, the rather uncommon visit of tortoises which spend most of their time under ground, and the sweet wet-earthy smell of petrichor.
This time of year represents the continuation of life in Yucatán. Aside from being wonderful for the fields, rain brings the temperature down and all you need is one good downpour to make the whole city turn vibrant green. Our wildlife also loves the rain, because the fruits and plants they eat ripen after being watered, and they find more reserves to drink from.
Nevertheless, storm season is also hurricane season, and although these aren´t frequent you’re always left wondering if this is the year we’ll get “hit.” On the flip side, there is also the fear that we will only get a “chan lluvia”, a drizzle. Every Yucatecan knows that a drizzle will only produce the hated “bochorno,” a humid heat which turns the whole city into the world’s biggest sauna.
That’s why when we get a heavy rain, like the ones we typically have at this time of year, you won’t see people angry even if you see them absolutely soaked to the bones. Even if they’re carrying umbrellas and plastic coveralls in vain, occasionally losing their dignity by slipping on the sidewalk, and soaking their shoes through, you’ll usually see them with a smile on their face: because now, Chaac has provided.
Editorial by Maggie Rosado
Photography by Elizabeth Llanes
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