February 18, 2008

Going home after visiting Richard in Panal

You've got to be kidding me.

Endless needles of rain sting my face as we crossed the vast expanse of the empty highway, further increasing my body's sensitivity to the biting cold. I try and stop from shuddering, fearing that any sudden movement might cause Vhann's motorbike to go out of control on the slippery asphalt.

It's probably one of the worst places I've ever found myself in: getting pelted with rain while riding a bike in the countryside at 9 in the evening. Plus the fact that there's no one within a hundred meters from us further complicates things. But then, nobody in his right mind (with the exception of two scrawny post-adolescent geeks) would go out in this forsaken hour, as the freezing wind and rain have almost completely shut down the city.

It's been like this since the start of February: endless cold coupled with endless rain. It's as if the entire Arctic Ocean was redirected to our tropical hamlet, with no signs of receding any time soon. Its stark contrast to the fact that summer is only two months away. That is, if there will still be a summer. If what the people back at the Centre are saying is true, then this whole crazy weather is due to global warming, which could further explain why the rain falling over our heads seems like it came from a glacier. But maybe I'm just over-reacting. It just feels too obvious for all of this to happen only a year after "An Inconvenient Truth" went onscreen and Al Gore got his nod at the Nobel. Maybe it is just a coincidence. Or maybe not. But if that should be the case I'll be damned if I ditch the bike in the middle of nowhere just to cut down on my carbon footprint. Our house already has enough fluorescent bulbs to compensate for the moment, thank you.

Nevertheless, you also start to fear, not only because of the strange weather but also because you are in the middle of a strange place. Proper civilization is only a few kilometers away, but the darkness and the emptiness surrounding us gives no hint whatsoever of our progress. And of all places to be you get an epiphany: that in the midst of all your accomplishments, you are still just a warm tiny speck in the ginormous void of a cold unforgiving universe.

It only took 15 minutes to get back to the city's core and for Vhann to drop me off at the tricycle stop home. There weren’t enough passengers for the tricycle to leave yet, so I decided to go to the nearest convenience store and grab something to drink. And while I chuckle at the subtle irony of it, the raindrops keep falling, oblivious to the endless ramblings which this and the hundred more souls that huddle for warmth in its domain.

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