Sicily sits on the edges of two completely different weather systems. The edges overlap.
What this means in practise is that Sicily gets way more weather than other places.
This weekend, for example, Africa blew the Scirocco wind at us. This starts in the Sahara desert, builds up to 150 degrees centigrade (I never exaggerate) and picks up tonnes of red sand before departing from the shores of Libya, expressly for the purpose of tipping it all over any Sicilian cars that have just been washed.
It wasn’t even Saturday lunch time before Europe retaliated.
The cool Maestrale blew down from the north with all its might and blasted some of my laundry away. It was a stained dish cloth and a sock with a hole in it, but that’s not the point. Whilst the two winds battled it out head-to-head, my washing line became a tangled mass of sheets twisting themselves up in knots, with simply no idea which direction to flutter in. They were also red with embarrassment – or was it Sahara sand? I decided to bring them in before they took off, too.
At that point, the rain came.
This wasn’t African rain and it wasn’t European rain either. I’m sorry if you Indians didn’t get your MONSOON this year – it sneaked away and doused Sicily instead. We ended up with an almighty meteorological mess which left most of Palermo under water.
Click here for a slide show of pictures taken by waterlogged citizens.
Go on. It’s worth it.
I didn’t take any photos at all, because I was barricaded inside my house, toiling alongside my dear hubby with a mop and a bucket trying to stem the tide of muddy water creeping across our garage towards our precious, floor-to-ceiling stack of winter fuel.
Our winter fuel is pellets, which would turn into solid sack-sized lumps of papier maché if they got damp. The reason we run our heating from a pellet-burning stove, instead of a gas boiler like normal people, is because here, in Weirdland, they don’t send gas to our houses. We have to buy it in bottles of the kind normal people only use when they go camping (if the kind of people who like to go camping actually are normal – I still haven’t made my mind up about that.)
Outside, the scrolling garage door was exactly ten centimeters deep in water. The only thing that stopped the water gushing in freely was the rubber seal along the bottom of the door, which pressed against the tiles on the floor. If you ever want to buy a strip of self adhesive rubber seal, I do suggest you order one from Sicily. It’s about the only thing they make really well here.
I know the external water height was ten centimetres because a helpful neighbour was standing right outside, giving us a running commentary.
He was wearing a pair of thigh-high green waders he had borrowed from one of the fishermen in the village. Even though this man is one of the more “traditional” sized Sicilians, one of the sort whose kitchen sink would look like a bidet to anyone of normal stature, that water was nowhere near his thighs. It was round his ankles (OK, maybe his calves).
So exactly why he wanted those waders, and even more amazing, how he had convinced that fisherman to lend them, remains a mystery. Yet I can confirm I saw them with my own eyes, when I dashed upstairs and peered down at him from the kitchen balcony during a quick investigation of the rain situation. He was keeping his upper half dry with a pink Tweetie Pie umbrella.
It was still raining like the Niagara Falls.
“Car approaching too fast!” warned Wader Neighbour, just seconds before a great slurry of water and mud sloshed at us under the door.
“Thoughtless fool” shouted Hubby in Sicilian after the reckless driver. “Go to That Country, you piece of donkey!” That Country is a euphemism for hell, a word Sicilians will never pronounce aloud either in Italian or Sicilian.
“They’re Horned Ones” shouted Wader Neighbour in agreement. Horned Ones is a euphemism for devils, another word Sicilians will never say aloud. He sounded angry. He probably shook his Tweetie Pie umbrella after them menacingly.
We mopped and we squeezed and we emptied buckets like maniacs. My back hurt. My mop handle was too short, I realized, and I was stooping.
“Why do they make the mop handles half size?” I muttered grumpily, mainly to myself.
“They’re for traditionally sized people,” said hubby, who was stooping over his mop worse than I was.
“Most people in Sicily are normal size,” I objected.
“Just keep mopping!!!!!!” he shouted. The stress was getting to him. “How’s the rain?” he called out to Wader Neighbour.
“It’s still raining like dogs and cats,” answered Wader Neighbour. I imagined him moving his Tweetie Pie umbrella to one side to check the sky. “That’s what you say in English isn’t it?”
“Kind of,” I said, slurping my mop to and fro against the garage door in a kind of hunchbacked frenzy. I felt like Quasimodo trying to transfer Lake Windermere into a bucket using a paper tissue.
Eventually Wader Neighbour gave us the very welcome news that the rain was abating. The mopping slowed down, and at long, round-shouldered last, I could go and have a cup of tea.
It was the best cup of tea I had had in about ten years, I reckon. Before I got to the end, though, I was telephoned by a friend whose son is in my little boy’s class.
“Have you heard about the school?” she asked. “Apparently some vandals broke in, smashed the windows, destroyed the furniture and caused so much damage that the school is closed until they can repair it. We have to home school the kids until it reopens.”
Home schooling? Oh dear God.
I tell you, it never rains but it pours.
21 Comments Add yours
What a pity! Your just brought back memories of the rented apartment, in which I grew up in Warri, Nigeria. The neighborhood was swampy and naturally the residents suffered when the unforgiving Warri rains decided to visit. I remember that water would creep up through the floor and the leaky roof, which our landlord steadfastly refused to repair, would donate its over-fair share of water. Whenever rain fell, the whole family had to engage in mopping and cleaning. We eventually moved to our own house in a relatively less swampy neighborhood and the nightmare is finally behind us. Once again accept my sympathy, I can relate to what you are going through now. 😉
Thank you for your kind words of sympathy 🙂
Regular flooding must have been so disheartening – I felt really fed up, and it’s only happened once in my house! I hope never again….
I have to say I enjoyed reading your post it was hilarious! Well, probably to me, sitting here in my London office (it’s my lunch!, honest!) and not a rain cloud in sight (in London in October…weird, right?) Hope you dry off soon!
I wonder if all the rain that was due in Europe decided to take a trip to Sicily last weekend? It really is odd that London was dry…. 🙂
Great read! This reminds of what Mary Taylor Simeti wrote in her book, I told you of it in recent posting: There is a chilling wind from the north on Sicily, really chilling. You would not expect this in this Mediterranean region. Can you approve this? So chilling? I had not the chance to experience it myself no my short trip to Sicily. – But now comes a second question: What about the Eastern parts of the island: There is a long chain of mountains in the north. Are they protected by this chilling wind? Continuously hotter, there? Do you ever heard or experienced such notions? Would be interesting to know. Sicily is a continent on its own, not just an island, but a collection of very different zones: Mountains, hills, sea, cold wind, sun, rain, etc.
It’s true that the Maestrale is very chilling in winter, absolutely horribly cold and guaranteed to give you earache if you go out for a walk! In the sumer it is always very welcome and refreshing, but not extremely cold. I think it originates in the Alps, which explains the cold, but of course it has to travel all down Italy, so that must be what warms it up a little in summmer.
I don’t really know if the mountains protect the Eastern side of Sicily, as I haven’t spent enough time over there to say what the climate is like over the long term. But that does sound logical to me.
I definitely agree with you that Sicily has a lot of different climate zones – the mountains are completely different from the coastal areas, and so you only have to travel a very short distance to get into a completely different climate! In fact in summer I sometimes persuade my husband to take me to the mountains for a day just so I can enjoy some cool fresh air. Most people in Sicily wish to have a small house by the sea for their weekends, but I would love to have a mountain cottage!
Oh god, I’d feel so much worse for you if you didn’t describe it in such a funny way! As it is, I’m too busy laughing to feel sympathetic!! 🙂
Ohoo I saw those images in TV. Hope thinks are getting better. It must be hard when it flood so often…
Thank you! I am just glad my house has tiles all over all the floors – luckily the damage was not too bad. Some of the walls look horrible though. They have developed eczema.
Thanks for the wonderful read – you never fail to make me laugh! We had a huge storm on the motorway here in France, it looked like an Olympic swimming pool with dodgem cars floating in it 🙂
Oh my goodness! I can just imagine the French drivers reacting to that – they are not really much better than Italian ones when they get in a bad mood….
Heh heh heh. Home schooling: never mind the rain, good luck with that!
I know – a downright scary idea.
Thank heavens, instead of waiting for the council to fix the school (which would have taken months or possibly years), the father of one of the kids who owns a construction company sent his workers to sort the place out. They got it perfect in 2 days. This man is a HERO and truly deserves a medal!
wow, major kudos to him!
Hope you are surviving today’s violent storms!?!?
Aaaargh no! I should probably reblog my own post today!!!
We had water indoors again. This time it was worse than last time and I was all on my own trying to mop it up today, as hubby was out at work.
Meanwhile he got stranded on his way home and eventually, in sheer desperation, wended his way on his motorbike down a street with water higher than his knees. By the time he got home he was so soggy that he made me put bath mats on the floor inside the entrance and stripped down to his underpants so as not to drench the house!
Sorry to hear it! At least you got to laugh at your hubby streaking across your house in his underpants especially if he wears briefs like mine! I simply head for the hills and waited for the storm to end at my in law’s place. Hope everything is drying out with this Scirocco!?
Yes, that shrivellingly dry day of Scirocco was a weird turn of events, wasn’t it?
It dried the house up (good) but made the dirt and mud stuck everywhere become REALLY hard (bad). I cannot decide if, on balance, it was a good thing or not!
Since you’re living in a fishing village, have an old mariner find you an albatross to befriend. Just don’t let me kill it.
Opps. I meant him (the mariner) not me (the Coleridge fan) for I am a bad shot.
🙂 🙂 🙂