The many words for rain in Costa Rica

The green season has arrived in Costa Rica

As April nears its end, summer turns into winter through much of Costa Rica. Afternoon thunderstorms arrive with the consistency of an alarm clock, and the yellows of dry vegetation become the lush greens of tropical rainforest.

During these months, the rains Costa Rica experiences are as diverse as the language used to describe them.

Sudden, vigorous and abundant rain is an aguacero or a baldazo — a bucketful — while lightest precipitation is pelo de gato (literally, cat’s hair). But if the rain loses its feline qualities, it could be considered garúa or llovizna or cilampa.

Pelo de gato is so light that es un agua que no moja — it’s water that won’t even get you wet. But when it’s a real baldazo, not even an umbrella and a raincoat can keep pedestrians from being hechos una sopa turned into soup — because the empapazón (complete and utter drenching) can’t be avoided by anyone who steps outside.

And if that heavy rain continues, it’s a temporal — a word that literally translates to “temporary,” which can feel like a cruel joke when it has been pouring interminably.

On the other hand, a few days of sunshine during the rainy season are a veranillo, a little summer that evaporates the puddles and dries the dirt roads before winter returns and the lluvia starts again.


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