Monday, December 22, 2008

Singing in the Rain

The Cypriot state middle schools don't finish until December 23 this year. Lise's son Marcos went this morning dressed for church in his nice uniform. At just before eleven, he borrowed a phone from a classmate and called his mother.

“Can you come and get me?”
“I could barely hear him over the bedlam in the background,” Lise related when I went to pick up something from her house.

On the way back to school from the village church, Marcos and his several hundred schoolmates were caught in a downpour. “You know how it rains here when it really rains,” Marcos added. “We all got soaked to the skin, shoes squelching, everything dripping. Some people managed to shelter in the underpass between the village and the school, but everyone was drenched.”

When they reached the schoolgrounds, the pupils headed for their classrooms, and the teachers to the staffroom or to their cars. The children waited in the unheated rooms, but no teachers appeared. Some were seen driving away. The children, with nothing dry to change into, began to shiver. Soon they started to phone their parents: “Mum, can you come and get me?”

“It doesn't even wind me up anymore,” Lise continued. “I just shake my head in amazement. No wonder parents fresh off the plane coming here to make a new life and putting their kids into school wonder what's hit them – we're talking twelve-to-fourteen-year-olds caught in a deluge and abandoned by the adults who are responsible for them. It's a different life to what they're used to back in England...”

I don't think Marcos will be going to school tomorrow.

So, yes. We finally had some decent rain. It started last night with thunder rumbling in the west, and has continued today with torrents falling from the sky, walnut-sized hailstones that stayed in six-inch drifts for over an hour, and wind that whipped the last remaining leaves from the leaves and hurled branches through the air.

When Alex and I drove home from town at lunchtime, we hit some of the worst driving conditions I have ever encountered with the rain and hail driving almost horizontally at us and visibility down to about twenty metres. I was scared, but I started singing “I'm glad I drive a Land Rover, and not some silly little car...”(thanks, Bing).

Luckily I picked a lot of lettuces early this morning, for sale in the health food shops of Nicosia, because I think that the veggie patch has been largely destroyed.

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