Friday, November 20, 2009

La Madre Naturaleza – Mother Nature’s Broken Heart

NOVEMBER 20, 2009

As I mentioned on one of my previous blogs, it is the rainy season here in Guatemala. The season goes from June through October. They tell me that before I arrived here, they had had staggeringly low levels of rain; in fact, I have personally seen many failed crops - dried out corn stalks to be exact. And this drought has caused thousands of deaths. Well, as luck would have it, Mother Nature decided, better late than never. So it has been raining almost continuously since I arrived six weeks ago; and they tell me that just the rain we have had here over the last 2 weeks was more rain then they have had over the last 4 months.

I joke about it at our table during meals. In Spanish, I propose, “I think that some guy has broken Mother Nature’s heart and she continues to cry. Well, I am going to have a chat with her; I think she needs some girlie advice on this matter. Because enough is enough - the rainy season was supposed to have ended already!”

So about 2 weeks ago, I was out to dinner with Bonnie and Ana who both live at the same complex as me. About half way through our dinner, it started to rain. And then it was REALLY pouring. We were quite far (about a 15 minute walk) from where we live and even though we were looking for about 20 minutes, there weren’t any taxis passing by. Luckily, I had the phone number of a taxi driver in my phone. I called him, and, although he was in Guatemala City, he sent by another driver who reached us in 5 minutes. WOW, it was raining so hard!!! None of us really wanted to leave the restaurant and go to the taxi since it was pouring so much.

As we started to near our side of town, we noticed increased amounts of water in the streets. And on our corner the water was GUSHING down the street, flowing swiftly like a river. Ana noticed a ‘bubbling fountain’ in the middle of the street. Later on we determined that the sewer cover had burst, causing pressurized water to spew out.

The taxi somehow, miraculously, made its way down through this rapidly rushing ‘river’ to Olga’s door. We were actually terrified to get out of the taxi – it was pissing down with rain and the water on the street was about a foot high - maybe more – we couldn’t really tell. In front of Olga’s door, which is where we were going to enter our complex, there is a barrier:

I never really understood why it was there, rather, I just considered it an inconvenience since always we have to step over it to get in & out. However, I now know why it is there and I now know why I call it a ‘barrier’! The racing water was just a few inches from the top of this barrier.

I mentioned before in a previous post about all of the various things jutting into the sidewalks and all of the holes, etc. Well now, swirling in my head, were visions of me slipping on the cobblestone or falling into an open sewer, loose street grate or drainage ditch. As you can see by this photo, there is a long drainage ditch on our street:

It was so dark, there was so much water and none of us could remember exactly where these deep ditches were. I’m sure that the others were thinking the same as me – that we would either be swept up and carried away by the rushing water or the other frightening proposition - that we would step in or get caught in some sort of a hole.

I sensed that the taxi driver really wanted to leave so I took a deep breath and finally braved it since I had my key ready (which I was tightly grasping, afraid that I would lose it to the rapid river). I made my way, pretty much knee high in water, to the door. My shoes were squishing all over the place. I guess that in all the commotion, I was really clasping my key hard because later on, in the morning, I realized that it had broke in half; the remainder had gotten stuck in Olga’s door!

I snapped this photo of the taxi leaving our street to go ‘upriver’:

Once ‘safely’ inside, I realized that the adventure wasn’t over yet. For our whole complex had been invaded with water and I had no idea how hard it would be to wade through it to get to my cottage. Here is a photo of what the entryway outside of my cottage usually (when dry) looks like:

Here it was the night of the flood:

It continued to rain strongly on & off all week. But the good news is... we haven’t had rain in more than a week now (yeah!) I think that my chat with La Madre Naturaleza worked –for it appears as though she is finally over him…whoever he was!

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