My First Arroyo

It’s pouring so hard I can’t hear my parents on Skype. It smells like rain on concrete, yet fresh and tropical. The thunder lasts longer than usual as my host madre and I scramble to put buckets under the leaks in the sunroom.

In my room, dirty water drips from a framed yellowed photograph of the daughter, whose room I now inhabit, and onto one of her paintings below, a vivid silhouette of a dancing couple against an orange sunset.
Now the ceiling square closest to my bed is dripping onto my luggage. I stupidly pull the surge protector and my computer charger from the wall socket under the photograph and push the stuff to the other side of my room.

Host madre and host abuela laugh at the small buckets under the huge leaks.
“You must wear shoes,” they say. “Two people died in barranquilla once during a storm.”
I still don’t know why flip flops are the key to survival, but I put them on.

“Sometimes the most dangerous part of a storm is the roof,” my host madre raises her eyebrows at me. Then, despite it all, she cheerily waves me goodnight and shuts her door.
The over eager tourist in me overpowers the wary houseguest, and I lean out the window to catch a rainfall in my hand above the rushing river that is Carrera 62.


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