– Rabindranath Tagore –
When I travel, I often head right into my destination’s rainy season. My short breaks occur when closer destinations tend to be rainy and my long breaks occur when the destinations I want to visit for an extended time tend to be rainy. I’ve come to embrace this and enjoy the way exploring new places in the rain naturally slows down my travels.
Sudden rainstorms have led me to duck into galleries or cafes or under awnings where I begin conversations or sit for awhile and observe and gain a deeper understanding of the culture. Warm stormy weather invites me to splash around the rain in impractical ways and sometimes put on a funny tacky poncho I’d never been seen in at home.
And when it’s not raining, the rainy season skies have a wonderful complexity about them; blue and white and gray masterpieces, moody but vibrant sunsets, and double rainbows (all the way).
The Big Island, Hawaii
Before we even landed in Hawaii, we were greeted with paradise; there were rainbows over the ocean and looking down at the water while flying from Oahu to the Big Island felt like we were a few steps away from viewing the Earth from space. And of course, once we were on land, lovely skies and rainbows continued to appear in abundance.
When I decided to visit Seattle in April one year, I didn’t expect much from the weather, and sure enough it rained for most of my trip. Flying in was pretty spectacular and every so often there were little holes in the clouds where there would be glimpses of snow-covered mountains. While Seattle remained overcast and rainy the whole time I was there, stopping to check out the daffodils and tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival while driving to Vancouver, Canada provided a little break from that and great views all around.
This was yet another place that drew me in from the air. As the plane approached Havana, fluffy clouds created unique shadows all over the brilliantly green landscape. While I was in Cuba, there were little bursts of tropical rainstorms almost every afternoon which turned out to be the best time for a siesta or sitting in a rocking chair on a porch and having a conversation until the storm passed. The colorful chatter was often followed by an equally colorful sunset.
Two years in a row, I visited southern Mexico in the summertime rain, and in Oaxaca was where I really started to pay attention to how much beauty clouds add to landscapes. It was the first time I felt inspired to make the sky the main subject of a photo and I’ve seen that I’m not alone in enjoying Oaxaca’s dreamlike summertime skies.
The summer when I visited Berlin, it rained heavily and I’d often see abandoned broken umbrellas strewn about the streets. Some of those days, it rained all day long, and the city felt so much more gloomy than I expected. Any day that was remotely sunny felt so inviting and you could see all over the city how the contrast brought about strong urges to be outside and enjoy the impermanent sun.
Prague was a side trip from Berlin with a little bit better weather. The city of Prague looks like something from a fairytale, and partly cloudy skies added to the magic.
I could see that Namibian skies were going to be spectacular as we flew in to the Windhoek airport. As we drove across the country, there was hardly anything on land, but the clouds in the sky gave the scenery so much character. While we certainly enjoyed some cliche African sunsets with the requisite silhouette of an acacia tree, the one I enjoyed the most was when the sun disappeared behind a patch of thick clouds, beautifully illuminating them on the way down.
Early September proved to be a great time of year to visit Chicago. A bit of rain and mugginess lingered from the heart of summertime, but mostly there were pleasant lake breezes and majestic clouds hovering over the city skyline.