Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Light a Candle for Iansã

"Evani, I think you'd better light a candle for Iansã."

Iansã is the goddess of lightning. We just had, actually are still having, a crazy wind storm pass through. We don't get hurricanes or snow or tornadoes here in Salvador, but when it gets really windy or rainy, it can get scary.

We have reason to be scared. Two days before our wedding, we had a wind storm come through that lifted the roof right off of the air shaft that sits in the middle of our house. Not only the roof, but the two huge beams of massaranduba that support it as well. Massaranduba is a wood so dense that it won't float, and termites won't eat it, which makes for great building material here in the tropics. The wind lifted up two beams and the translucent tiles nailed to them and threw them over onto another section of roof, where it punched a couple big holes. Luckily for us, that storm was entirely wind and not a drop of rain or we would have been in real trouble. I had my father and three of my brothers here, and they all helped out to shore up the thing. Now those beams are held in place with big steel anchors cemented into the walls. If they weren't, they would certainly have flown again tonight.

Evani warned me that it was going to rain, and as I was sitting here working I was getting nice gusts of wind which I usually don't. Then the wind started for real and we could see out the window a nasty black storm approaching, with lots of lightning but no thunder. I jumped into action, grabbing towels and sticking them under the windows. I brought in the ladder so I'd have access to the attic in case the 'bica' overflowed. I took the rug out of the living room so it wouldn't get wet in case it flooded in there. We moved Lucas downstairs, sleeping soundly, because I get nervous about other people's roofs flying around as well- that happened to us once as well, and we had more punctures in our massive roof tiles. I unplugged everything.

And then we waited.

The wind was the worst. For about half an hour the tiles in the air shaft were making a terrible racket as they danced up and down, and every time there was a loud bang I ran up to the attic to make sure nothing had made a new hole in it. The wind blew and blew and there was some rain but it never really rained with any conviction.

Here's a video of the roof over the air shaft during the worst of the wind:

Thank goodness it didn't rain. When it rains here, it rains like I've never seen rain anywhere in my life. It can rain several inches in an hour. Whole hillsides can turn to jelly and slide away, taking houses with them. Roads flood. For us, it's our blessed 'bica' that's the problem. The way the house is constructed, we have a gutter that's inside the house, and the people who restored the house didn't do a real good job of making that gutter handle the kind of rain we get here. Our first Carnaval living here, we had a crazy rainstorm that caused the bica (that means gutter) to overflow and man did it overflow. Our bedroom got soaked and so did the living room and the hall downstairs. This happened because bits of masonry had clogged the down pipe and the whole thing backed up. I had the bright idea to stick rolls of chicken wire in there that keep this kind of detritus from causing problems, but when it rains really hard, like it did about a week ago, the bica just fills up and overflows anyways. This was my primary concern tonight.

But we got lucky this time. Shortly after I told Evani I thought she should light the candle, the wind started to die down. We had another short burst, but now it seems to have stopped completely. We can relax again, until the next time.

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