The rain period has started. This is a strange and in a way quite funny period here in Portugal. For one it contains rain like I’ve never experienced it before, and secondly, it seems to startle the local drivers.
During the rain period, the rain in Portugal is like a cascade of water being thrown from the skies. It’s like somebody emptying a bucket of water right over your head and outside of your window. It’s real intense and it’s real wet. And the sound level of it is absolutely impressive. And it makes it impossible to engage in any outdoor activities except for jumping in muddy puddles and it destroys flower beds because it’s so intense. It is now clear to me why parents here aren’t asked to bring rain clothes for the children in day care, as would be an absolute must in Sweden. It’s simply because they won’t go out when it rains anyway. Sure, most parts of the year it doesn’t rain that often anyway so you may as well stay in on those rare days. But during the rain period it is also because it’s nearly impossible to be outdoors for any longer than a couple of seconds or minutes tops. And even after that you’ll be soaked and your hair will be ruined.
Rain is boring no matter where it falls but during the rain period here it is actually a bit amusing to experience since it so clearly makes the locals startled and thus behave strangely. Driving here is always a bit of a gamble but when the hard rain hits, it turns into a spectacle. All of a sudden, the drivers have no idea how to drive and what to do anymore, so they decide neither to hit the brakes nor the accelerator, so traffic becomes this butterish, strange paced worm that is really unpredictable. And the accident ratio goes up. Already under normal circumstances Portugal has a high traffic accident ratio, but with the rain it further increases. Clearly insecure of how to behave in the situation and definitely afraid of any potential negative consequences of their behaviours, they stop doing anything at all, which clearly has consequences.
To some extent it is quite understandable that people tend to react this way. Being a country that is not used to a lot of rain and bad weather, the streets aren’t really constructed in a water repelling way, on the contrary, sewage is pretty bad and there will easily be parts of the streets partially flooded. Which of course makes for difficult driving circumstances. Also, the country’s strained economic situation has put restraints to fixes and repairs of the older roads. Vast parts of the highways are new and stunning, but that’s due to EU financing. An interesting anecdote is how wonderfully empty these highways are most of the time as they are subject to tolling which means that most people still drive the old, small, cost free roads. And those incidentally are the ones that get even more dangerous in rain.
I cannot help but think that it is a bit amazing, the rain period with it’s strange rain and irrational driver behaviour. Till I stop myself and think of the exact equivalent situation in Sweden, every year, and I realize that it is the same, but the period is called winter and the water comes down as snow.