A thunderstorm in Zambia

It’s the early morning. I sleep soundly, oblivious to the unnatural silence. The roosters, dogs, and insects that I usually want to strangle are nowhere to be heard. All is quiet on the western front. But then a rumble sounds in the distance. The muffled detonation of the early morning’s first bomb. The air raid has begun.

The light artillery starts, testing my tin roof for any weak points. Tat. Tat. Tatat. Tatatatatat. The sprinkles turn into a heavy rain. TATATATATATATATATATATATSTATATAT. I’m under heavy fire. Seconds later, rain is no longer the proper action verb to describe the all-out assault being waged on my little tin roof. BAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAM. It’s a torrential downpour. BAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAM. I can no longer hear myself think.

A bomb goes off with a resounding crack, closer and louder this time. I can hear it rip through the air. Lightning flashes, illuminating my entire hut with the radiance of a thousand watts. I instinctively count the seconds. One alligator, two alligator, three alligator, four allig-BAAA-BOOOMMMMMM. This one shakes my bed. If I had a window, it would be shattered.

The roof is still under relentless attack but seems to be holding up under the deluge of water. I can’t say the same for my ears. The  thunderclaps come at regular intervals now. The bombers are on a tight schedule. Each crack emanates from deep inside my head, exploding outward through my ears like a runaway freight train and rumbling off toward Tanzania. Then a brilliant burst of lightning, that ominous harbinger of destruction. And seconds later another bomb touches down, more terrible and destructive than the last.

I hunker down in my hut to wait it out. After 45 long minutes, the thunder moves off into the distance. The lightning grows fainter and is eventually washed away by the morning’s first light. The rain is the last to go, finally slowing to the point where I can hear individual drops again. The bravest rooster tests out a tentative crow. That’s the one I’m going to hunt down first. A baby squalls nearby. The birds begin their morning songs. Voices emerge from bedraggled huts.

I have weathered my first Zambian thunderstorm.


33 thoughts on “A thunderstorm in Zambia

  1. 1. You really have a way with words. Seriously, these posts are always super amusing to read.
    2. Speaking of which, I love reading your blog! I still can’t believe you’re in Zambia. As a Peace Corps volunteer. Talk about the coolest possible way to spend 27 months.
    3. Lastly, whenever you’re feeling alone, know that there are tons of people thinking of you everyday back in the States. Myself definitely included.

    Until the next blog post,

    • Thanks so much, Kari! My take on blogging is that an engaging voice is more important/interesting than any particular subject matter, so I really appreciate the compliment and validation. 🙂

      Hope school is going well!

  2. I hope you keep writing Matt! Even though I know you’re trying not to romanticize your experience, your writings totally do it anyway (in a great way)!! I’m glad to hear you have tomatoes and are not living solely off corn porridge. Happy Birthday!!!

  3. hey Matt!! facebook tells me it’s your birthday! not sure about the time difference between california and zambia, but happy birthday anyways!!!! hope birthday celebrations are exciting with your fellow trainees and host family!
    btw, i read your posts regularly and am always fascinated! all these things we take for granted here… it’s crazy. and it seems like you have gone through so much and learned so much in such a short period of time. i will keep looking forward to being enlightened by you!!

  4. I agree with Kari, you have a way with words that really pulls the reader into your experience. It keeps me eagerly awaiting the next post.

  5. Happy birthday, Matt! Like the others, I’ve been having a lot of fun reading these blog posts and seeing Africa through your eyes. I’m loving living here in NY, but it’s almost making me wish I’d chosen to go abroad instead! (Though I’m certainly glad to not have to deal with giant bugs on a regular basis…)

  6. Happy Birthday, Matt! I’m a good friend of your lovely mother and just wanted to let you know what a wonderfully talented writer you are…runs in the family, I’m sure! Thank you for sharing your experiences in Zambia. Your photography is breathtaking!

  7. I should send you some earplugs. Are birthdays celebrated there? I was thinking of you and how ‘old’ you are now. When you come back I’ll be thirty, you can tease me then about how old I am. It’s still weird not to see you every day. My mind is per usual all over the place. Missing you lots!

  8. Dear Matt,

    I’m writing from your mother and father’s place after a nice lunch here at the ranch. Just want to wish you a very very happy birthday and wish I could say it in person, but since I can’t, I’ll just send this note with loving regards.

    Lots of love,

  9. Hi Matty!! Happy Birthday!!! Sorry for the excessive exclamation points, but it’s the only way I can try to sound less sarcastic when I write. Megan and I have been thinking of you so much and we really hope you are enjoying your experience even if it can get a bit rough or lonely at times (just throwing it out there that I am a regular reader, first time commenter).
    I wanted to share some baseball news with you. The World Baseball Classic is going on right now and Mexico and Canada played the other night and got into an epic brawl during the ninth inning because the Mexicans didn’t appreciate the Canadians laying down a bunt base hit when they were up 9-2 in the ninth inning. Although in the Canadians defense run differential does count towards elimination in the tournament.
    I hope you have a great birthday and hope that you start reading something better than chick-lit novels.


    • Haha thanks Ray. Makes a lot of sense about the exclamation points, actually! I appreciate the well wishes and the baseball update. Can’t wait for the season to start!

  10. Hey Matt
    Happy Birthaday. Love reading your blog… You’re an incredible storyteller. It feels like we’re there on your journey w you. Thanks for sharing all the details…. especially when life is so ordinary here- it’s good to be transported to a far away place. The smiles on your little sister tells it all, you are lucky to have them as your teachers. When we were in Africa we found the people to be some of the most incredible people we’ve ever met. And through these relationships, you’ll learn so much about who you are. And what is truly important. Do continue to take the time to write and share your perspective w all of us. Your word will have even greater meaning w time. Thinking of you tonite as a light rain falls in our little forrest amidst the calling of tree frogs who are convinced that spring is here.
    Auntie Fawn

  11. Happy Birthday Matt!
    We are also enjoying your blog, and thanks for sharing your journey. Your writing leaves an impression on all the senses.
    Uncle Mark

  12. Happy (belated!) Birthday, Matt! I must mirror the above sentiments. Your writing is spectacular (as usual). I always get excited when I see another blog post from you show up in my inbox. I hope you were able to enjoy your first African birthday. I’m sure you had lots of introspective thoughts that day. Miss you!

  13. Looks like you have a lot of happy customers. Like all your friends and family, I love your blog. I would definitely buy your book. You have to publish one day. So nice to follow you’re adventures through your blog. Thank You for writing, I love it. And Happy Birthday!!
    Kurt and Carmen Escobar

  14. Matt, I am thoroughly enjoying reading your blog; I’m so sure it’s totally amazing in Africa (I’ve always wanted to go!) now I can live vicariously through you! Stay safe and strong, Matt! Love, Your Work Mom!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s