I woke up early this morning, 2 hours before I needed to. The wind was picking up. I could hear through my open window the leaves tossing, rain beginning to splatter. Before I knew it, we were in for a full-fledged thunderstorm. Lightning flashed in the pre-dawn sky; thunder crashed louder than the Ramadan drummer.
When I got up, the storm continued. I went in to get the kids up; they were all awake listening to the rain. Last night, I made cinnamon rolls, so I heated them and boiled eggs and dug out the fun striped egg cups they got last Easter. I’m a good mother, unlike that woman here last week giving her kids cold cereal and telling them to stop their whining about the long-life milk already. In the meantime, the clouds burst open and the deeps poured forth. Roads turned into rivers. Lightning and thunder collided right overhead. We watched the long grey uninterrupted lines of rain. Electricity flickered on and off; the internet didn’t work. I called Maroc Telecom and got put on hold.
Our house is a two-minute walk from the kids’ school. It’s quicker to walk than to drive, by the time you get the car out of the complicated garage we share with our landlord, his brother, and their 3 cars. But they couldn’t walk. The rain was incessant. I had the window open in the living room, and spray blew in as if from a waterfall.
Donn dropped them off and we had coffee and cinnamon rolls ourselves. Still the rain continued, unabated, insistent.
About an hour and a half later, when it had finally slackened, then slowed to a drizzle, I got a phone call from Ilsa. “Mom!” she gasped. “Come get us! The school is being evacuated!” “Because of the rain?” I asked, but she didn’t answer. In the background was a cacophony of junior high voices. I could barely hear her.
She came back on. “Mom! Come to the small door, okay?”
“Are you serious, Ilsa?” I asked her. It just seemed strange to receive such a call from your child. Shouldn’t it be more official, from the school secretary or nurse or another parent? “I’m DEAD serious,” she announced, and hung up.
So we headed down to the school. Apparently several classrooms had flooded, and the electricity was out. The rain had mostly stopped by this point. The roads were filled with stalled vehicles and puddles a foot or two deep. Friends told of journeys interrupted, of it taking an hour to travel a stretch of road that normally takes 10 minute, of a small pool, six feet deep, in the middle of an underpass.
The school was a madhouse. All the students were standing in the courtyard, which is reached by a small staircase. Parents jostled their way to the front of the stairs, where they would stand, eyes scanning the crowd, looking for their own particular child. Teachers stood at the top of the stairs, asking parents which class their child was in. Then they would descend into the melée, emerging eventually with a student in tow.
I eventually collected my 3 and we headed out the door. There were still hundreds of bedraggled students huddled under the trees and awnings of the school. The teachers wielded enormous umbrellas.
I asked one if there would be school tomorrow. “Who knows?” he shrugged. “Check the school web site.” That is, when the internet is back up, I thought.
The kids were thrilled. Abel is missing a history test today. Ilsa is missing TWO tests. They ate their sandwiches in the car on the way home, “second breakfasts,” and are already clamouring for lunch. They are all watching a movie and drinking hot chocolate in their pajamas, changed out of wet jeans and hoodies. Meanwhile, outside, the last drops of rain fall from the hibiscus hedge under a weak and watery sun, but I hear thunder in the distance, rumbling ominously.