A weird things happens sometimes when you are out for a walk in Buenos Aires. All of a sudden, rain drops start to land on you from nowhere. Is it the start of a passing shower, or one of the city’s full-on, drench-your-bones storms? You look up to check out the clouds. Nada. Not a single wisp.
You carry on walking, and the drizzle continues. “Ah, an air conditioning unit!” You look up again. Again, nothing. There are no buildings whatsoever overhead.
I have found myself in this situation more than ever this spring, to the point where I was questioning my own sanity.
Today, to put my mind at rest, I asked around.
Apparently, the rain is coming from the trees. In this video below, you can see them in action. It’s quite surreal.
The tree is a tipuana tipu, or tipa, a rosewood native to South America.
Being Argentina – a country that brought us the melancholy tango – this phenomenon is know as the “llanto de las tipas” (the tears of the tipas).
Sadly, however poetically Argentina tries to dress it up, you’re actually being excreted on by a parasite.
And to make it worse, that parasite is called Cephisus siccifolius. It just sounds nasty, doesn’t it?
The tree cannot, however, pass the buck for the helicopter-like spores it releases, causing hayfever and allergies of the highest order.
It is not a very nice tree.
As far a “raining” trees go, I prefer those of the jacaranda, which, at this time of year, sends wafts of violet petals drifting to the ground. They form such a striking carpet that you almost feel guilty treading on them.
There are some incredible photos on this blog, Los Arboles de Buenos Aires, which is entirely dedicated to the city’s trees. I agree with the writer/photographer that November is the best time of year in Buenos Aires. (Photo by Vtveen on Flickr)
Other trees to look out in the city are the superbly named, twisting ‘palo borachos’ (drunk sticks), which clearly make rather aggressive drunks as their trunks are covered in spikes. Over time, just like us, they also acquire bellies from their drinking … (Photo by Blmurch on Flickr)
The other unusual Buenos Aires phenomenon to look out for is when it rains from ground upwards. Those are the days when, again, there is not a cloud in the sky, but you make the mistake of stepping on a cracked pavement that has been secretly collecting rain water in its gaps. All of a sudden, surprise! Your shoes are filled.