In late September, the lightest rain was like the electric flannel of disconnected TV channels – buzzing grey, soft and constant. When being more impressive, the deluge was fervent as foot stomping applause. It pounds on; sometimes louder than a Rolling Stone’s audience at Madison Square Garden. And, it was rumored that were four more weeks of tormentos to go. Anticipating this, I reluctantly bought the plumber’s boots that the local men sport. For that 55Q, I got a moderately leaky pair of very effective leg weights — they were holding another danger.
The last time I waded into town-central two tropical storms were stalled in the Atlantic. Their resulting damage had already earned the disaster a double truck in la Prenza. But, in turning to the paper’s weather page, it remained, as usual, a bit “off.” That section was indicating partly cloudy/partly sunny as the current forecast. (Gringos told me that these repeated, error prone cartoons of clouds and sun are printed to accommodate the local level of literacy and that they never change to reflect actual conditions.) Prognostication is somewhat better on the NOAA.gov tropical weather page. By switching back and forth from Eastern Pacific to Caribbean you can almost guess which hatched bubble will blow the worst storms towards us.
Wrestling mud tides in the new boots was fun and not. It was great to feel that I was wading safely into dog poop soup and retro to merrily sploosh through puddles. Meanwhile the local women wear sling pumps or sandals and slogged thru unfazed. But, by mid afternoon, my industrial boots become very heavy and chafe at the calves. Worse yet they are deadly smelly – I understand that they are crafted from benzene and PVC. In any case, they caused me to endure caustic headaches until, in a sudden burst of recognition, I moved them out of my room.
Rain or no, the women wear several different kinds of outfits here.. The more traditional wrap themselves in full length weaved cotton skirts cinched with fancy belting and topped by shorter woven tunics called “guipils.” All together this marvelous costume is called “Traje” (= suit). The menfolk dress also wear their own form of traje: shorts and jackets of the same heavy cottons – representing their town’s colors. During the week, the men often sport straw wide brimmed hats and, on weekends, they wear fancy felt hats like Chasids in the diamond district in winter. Other outfits include tight, short, shiny pinstriped black suits with pastel blouses topped off with a manly necktie. At first, I thought that these young women in business drag with name plates on their chests were all Mormons. But, now it looks like they are high school students and depending on the blouse color, attend different institutions.
After a ferocious night of resounding ovations, it was evident that a rock as big as a semi came down slugging in the river and had damaged several of the piers under the bridge. In a horrible scenario, I figured that I could be trapped in barrio Jucanya without knowing what the drill was.
So calculating between red ovals on NOAA and from local chat it looked as if the next few days were going to be as isolating as a giant snowstorm.
That prior afternoon, Boston Mike gave me the word that there were heavy mudslides up in Santa Catarina. Even thought the rain had slowed, I took a walk along the Calle Principal and began to make inquiries regarding other’s exit strategies. The Turkish man on Calle Monterey told me he would go up the tree in his backyard with books and several bottles of wine. Mr. Ali reasoned that the tree had survived even Stan and Agatha and he could cling to it until the helicopter arrived to rescue him. Lars said he would prefer a launch to the other side where the roads might be passable. His strategy was no doubt influenced by his wife’s adventure the night prior. Nuria was returning home from the University at Solola with five other faculty members when the desrumble crashed in front of their car. As they backed up, another plummeted toward the back fender. They waited for the road to be cleared sufficiently to get back to the university where they spent an uncomfortable night. At day break Nuria made her way down to the schism on the road via bus and, after crossing over to the lake side, walked home to her family.
And after voicing that I did not want to be alone with the wretched Renzo, should Carlos have to go out on emergencies, I was offered and gratefully accepted a kindly invitation from the Kellys. I used the dire opportunity presented by the floods to move my stuff. As the rains were increasing and the river engorging, I fled. No sooner did I ensconce myself than the rain cleared up and, within a day or so, the sky was actually cloud-free and blue.. Meanwhile, I had put feelers out and had three apartments in the works; so, was sure to get another space to live on the Pana side – as the first of the month dawned- So, I tided over very happily with the four Kellys for the next few days. We feasted, played “go fish” and painted with the kids and in between I did loads of laundry and took full advantage of their new dryer… My clothes felt crispy for the first time since July. Thank you David and Alison.
At this writing 08OCT10, it has been about five days that we are rain free…