23 Degrees South

Living and learning in Botswana during my two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer. NOTE: This is a personal journal and does not necessarily represent the views of the Peace Corps or the U.S. Government.

Tin Roof Sunday

One of the many topics of seemingly endless conversation here at Peace Corps Botswana is the sounds of a tin roof. Those of us fortunate enough to have a tin roof and no ceiling (think modern ‘exposed beams’ meets on-the-farm chicken coop) are able to have in-depth conversations about the diverse range of sounds experienced through the thin layer of metal dividing our homes from the heavens.

The most common sound, year round, is the sound of the metal heating up during the day. The inexperienced ear might perceive this sound as light rain, but it has more of a creaking door attribute than raindrop sound. It’s a steady clicking noise that reminds you that the sun is out and the day is heating up.

Another sound, one which I have been hearing a lot lately, is the sound of rain. My favorite is the light, misty rain during the day. It gives a lovely background noise that makes you just want to curl up and drink hot cocoa. I usually realize it has started raining by the sound on the roof before I notice it outside the window. Heavy rains can be intense and loud, to the point where I can forget being able to watch a movie without my noise cancelling headphones, and talking on the phone is definitely not going to happen. But I absolutely love going to sleep when there is a smooth steady rain; an all-natural cool, white noise. Rain is such a precious thing here, I love being able to experience it in this all-encompassing fashion (thankfully, without having it come down on me through the roof!).

Occasionally it even hails here! One can imagine that if rain keeps me from talking on the phone, then hail can be downright deafening! Once, after a particularly intense storm, my ears were ringing like I had been to a concert. But hail usually only lasts for a few minutes, then it’s back to the rain.

Wind. For a while this was my ultimate nemesis. There were a couple loose corners of my roof, one in the living room, and one above my bed, that when the wind was just right, would produce the most nerve-wracking pounding. On windy nights I would lie below the pounding envisioning my whole roof blowing off and wondering what I would do. Luckily, my landlord helped me out and reattached the roof, so no more sleepless nights for me. For the most part the wind and I now have a working relationship, but occasionally it still freaks me out, especially when the tree above my house drops things onto my roof. Then it is reminiscent of the tornado in The Wizard of Oz.

All of these occurrences seem fairly common and to be expected, but the one thing that still makes me jump is when the family of mourning doves bombs my roof. There are three such birds (they look like pigeons) on my compound and I swear they are the biggest ones in my village. They like to get going at around 5am, especially on the weekends, and will crash land on my roof, then chase each other back and forth for what seems like hours. On the tin roof, they sound like sumo-wrestlers wearing tap shoes above my head. I think every volunteer in the country with a tin roof has had this experience. I have never wanted to harm an animal before, but these guys definitely test my patience… I think they may have sensed my ill-will and have been taking it easy lately, primarily isticking to the roof of the main house.

Being back in America with a real roof and ceiling will be strange. How will I know when it’s heating up outside, or raining? On the flipside, I will also no longer be living in a giant oven, which will also be nice. I love my house and its quirky charm. I live my life trying to make the best of every situation I find myself in, and this 11×22 foot cinder-block, cement, and tin structure has become my little oasis. I get the best sunsets, and get to be creative in thinking of ways to keep the bugs out. The cement floors are indestructible and easy to keep clean, and half of my stuff hangs from the conveniently exposed rafters, giving my room a feeling of a gypsy-circus, but it’s quite functional.

Sending happy, warm, wishes your way!




Single Post Navigation

4 thoughts on “Tin Roof Sunday

  1. I love this blog. ( but then I have loved them all) I love that I was able to experience some of this with you, and your descriptions have brought those memories vividly back to me sweetheart. I love your little oasis that you have made into such a cozy and comfortable home. I love you Jess!!

  2. William Crane on said:

    I like it fine when you pick a subject and follow it up. You are a born writer whatever you do.

  3. Terry crane McDonald on said:

    I love this, I love you and l love knowing that you are soaking up life in all its presentations. I’m also wishing you the happiest of birthdays. How will you celebrate? Auntie

  4. Dan the Man on said:

    That was a really nice read 🙂 thank you for the lovely imagery and the laugh. I love that the birds are making you crazy. What bugs are you finding?? There must be some good ones 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: