Going bananas in the tropics
TROPPO, mango madness, cabin fever. Let’s face it, we’re all suffering from it this time of year. The rain keeps pouring down and every time the sun peeks out from behind the dark, heavy clouds the steam rises and a sauna situation starts to occur like pouring water over hot rocks in a Swedish wooden panelled sauna – only the forest is the wooden panels, the water provided in abundance from above and the hots rocks are the hottest rock of them all: the sun.
Welcome to Port Douglas mid wet season.
Apparently, there hasn’t been a ‘‘normal’’ wet season in over ten years or more but then my mum has come to visit and she is The Rain Maker. I have seen it so many times, it’s uncanny. She came to visit in Sydney a few years ago after a five year drought and just the mere mention of her visit opened up the skies and poured until she left and then it was dry again... until her next visit. She loves the rain and the rain loves her. Wherever she goes – rain follows. It’s quite bizarre so I was not surprised her visit to PD heralded the first ‘‘normal’’ wet season in many a long year.
I’m going to hire her out – ‘‘You got drought? We got rain!’’ If you are a lover of the rain, someone who finds comfort in the rain, you are a pluviaphile. I am a pluviaphile. FYI the term ‘‘ troppo’’ was originally attributed to the effects of the tropics on military servicemen in WWII.
I n these parts the humidity and ceaseless rain begin to wear people down; one feels like one is swimming through the heat. Everything slows to a crawl. The plants love it! Humans, however, can stand it for only so long before the term ‘‘troppo’’ creeps into everyday vernacular.
People become irritable, run down, vague, heavy breathed and seek out the frozen goods aisle in the supermarket. I find the frozen peas section to be enormously beneficial on stinking hot and humid days. The waves of relief that wash over me when I open the refrigerator and fan the crispy cold air onto my hot and tired skin are small moments of bliss.
One must access the refrigeration aisle by stealth. You cannot let the manager at the local supermarket know you are using their precious cooling system for anything other than casual perusal of the several brands of frozen baby peas. An unusual interest in the smallest details of the packaging takes place on hotter than hot days.
Everything gets damp. I tried to light some incense and discovered all my boxes of matches were damp – good thing I don’t need to light incense, because I can’t. It’s important to keep fans on even when the temperature suspiciously drops, air flow and air circulation is fundamental t o avoid t he dreaded mould and that dank smell of dampness that gets through all your clothes. Doona on, doona off, doona on, doona off. I marvel at the local’s ability to sit through this year in and year out to keep this little town alive when the tourists vanish for greener pastures. For my two bits, I think they should have local’s discount card in the low season – when the work is scarce but the tourist prices remain the same...
One of my plants has seemingly grown six inches since I last saw it which I thought was only a few days ago – but it could have been weeks ago. Who knows anymore? Everything is a marathon, electricity bills soar, the pub is full most of the time and little birds overheat, crouching in the doorways of brand name shops who can afford an arctic blast of aircon shrouding their entrances temping even the most skint locals into their parlours like the spider to the fly...
If you find yourself becoming unhinged, note to self, you must learn to feign interest in the puff pastry, frozen yoghurt and frozen peas aisle of the supermarket – but you must be cool about it. I have discovered the hard way the unwanted attention when one throws open the fridge and collapses on buckets of Sara Lee and Maggie Beer ice-cream or wanders around with a packet of frozen corn and carrots on your face – so watch out for the manager... They must never know what we are doing to preserve our tropical sanity. This information is my gift to you. Over and out.