It’s late afternoon/early evening here in New Hometown, Florida. The temperature outside is 79˚F (26˚C) under mostly cloudy skies. With the wind blowing from the east at 10 MPH (17 KM/H) and humidity at 84%, the feels-like temperature is 79˚F (26˚C). I haven’t looked out my window or gone outside since my brief walk to the park and back earlier this afternoon, so I have no idea if it rained or not. The forecast still calls for rain in the evening hours, and my phone’s AccuWeather app – which is not the same app as the one I use on my Lenovo “all-in-one” computer – is saying that rain may form in the next 88 minutes.
Why am I so leery about being caught outside when it rains?
Well, aside from the fact that Florida is “the Lightning Capital of the United States, the fact is that getting soaked by rain while walking outside and being unable to find shelter is not a fun experience. True, it’s only happened to me a few times, but in all of those instances, I came down with bad colds and made my life miserable for days, weeks, and in one memorable occasion, for over two months!
The most memorable – or the most miserable, if you prefer – occasion took place when I was studying abroad in Seville, Spain in the fall of 1988.
One afternoon in mid-October, I was on my way home from a residencia where Ingrid, one of my friends from the group of students participating in the Semester in Spain program, was staying. We had gone there to chill after our morning classes and, since it was Friday, we didn’t have afternoon classes at the University of Seville’s main campus. We chatted for a while in her room, then I saw it was almost 3 p.m. and decided to go back to my apartment, which was across the Guadalquivir River in a neighborhood called Los Remedios.
I was in the middle of Seville’s Parque de Maria Luisa (Maria Luisa Park), which lies next to the Guadalquivir River and is the biggest “green area” in Andalucia’s largest city.
The sky had been cloudy when Ingrid and I left the College Consortium for International Studies Center at the heart of Seville for her residencia apartment after our last class, but I thought I’d make it home to my apartment before it rained. Alas, it was not to be. It was drizzling lightly when I left Ingrid’s place, and by the time I reached the center of the park, a botanical preserve with a 100 acre area, big fat raindrops were falling from the sky like so many transparent water balloons,
I was on the Avenida de los Cisnes (Swan Avenue) and headed toward the Avenida de las Delicias (Avenue of Delights) when the pitter-patter of big fat raindrops suddenly became a deluge. It was as if the rain gods had opened a heavenly spigot. I’d been able to avoid most of the first big raindrops because they were coming down haphazardly. But this escalation by Mother Nature was all-encompassing. My world had become a watery and windswept hell. I literally could not see anything further than my outstretched arm.
Since I couldn’t see the sun or any familiar landmarks, I quickly lost my bearings. I walked south along Avenida de los Cisnes for a while, then got seriously lost after I passed the Isleta de los Patos (the Duck Islet) that’s located just above Avenida de Pizarro.
Right below Avenida de Pizarro there’s something called the Glorieta de la Concha. I’m not sure what a Glorieta is, but that bit of Maria Luisa Park features a central hub where several paths meet. I knew one of those paths led to the Avenida de las Delicias, which is where I needed to go if I wanted to get to the bridge over the Guadalquivir…and home.
I had made the trip across the park many times during my first few weeks in Seville, but always under fair weather conditions and during daylight hours. And though technically it was daylight, the canopy of trees and the rain combined to make it look as if it was night. With visibility close to zero, a stiff breeze blowing almost at gale force speed, and endless walls of water everywhere, instead of walking down a straight path, I was going around in circles.
For two hours I was stuck in this Kafkaesque horror. Every time I thought I was near the Avenida de las Delicias, I’d catch a glimpse of signs that said “Avenida del Conde de Colombi” or “Avenida Rodriguez Cano.”
The rain tapered off eventually, and I managed to straggle my way home like a wet rag doll. I survived my watery misadventure. I also caught a cold which waxed and waned from that day until I left Spain on December 18, 1988.