Friday, June 19, 2015
what happened to carlos?
What kind of writer am I?
I had a story right under my nose the day before yesterday (a story that you have shown interest in and I have access to the facts), and I let it pass by unnoticed. Well, I am about to fix that.
As happens with 95% of the hurricanes and tropical storms that come our way each summer season, Carlos was exactly what all of my Mexican neighbors said it would be: a rain storm. And I was not surprised.
Our large storms usually form this time of year in the Gulf of Tehuantepec, off of the coast of southern Mexico. Because of prevailing weather patterns and the effect of the rotation of the earth, the storms usually take a northwestern route. Because of the horizontal slant of the Mexican coast, that means the storms often stay off the coast of Mexico before veering out over the Pacific.
Not always. Sometimes they head inland. Poor Acapulco has suffered that variation several times. And the storms that miss the mainland often hit Baja California.
Carlos stayed true to form. The storm did hit landfall around Melaque early Tuesday morning. By then, it was decreasing in velocity almost below tropical storm stage. By the time it got to Puerto Vallarta, it was a depression.
I got up early that morning (very early, for me) to watch the rain. It was more intense than an Oregon rainstorm: I have heard estimates varying as high as 6 inches.
I usually rely on a local weather station on the beach in Villa Obregon. The report from there was 3.2 inches of rain with the highest wind gust of 30 MPH at 4:00 AM.
The street in front of my house floods (or turns into a stream bed) during our heavy rains. All I had were large puddles. So, I am inclined to accept the 3 inch report.
But not everyone was so lucky. Along with others, I have been assisting a Mexican family (a father and three young children) in Pinal Villa, a small village just over a mile off of the main highway. Economically, it is years away from Melaque.
Their house is made of sticks, mud, and visqueen. Some benefactors recently built a concrete bathroom next to the house. But, just before Carlos arrived, the house effectively collapsed. The plan was to rebuild the place, but it could not be done before the storm hit.
For some unexplained reason (and no one really knows why), Pinal Villa (along with a large area northeast of Barra de Navidad) has been covered with flowing water. This was during the dry season. I was concerned what the rain from Carlos would do to the family.
My concerns were well-founded. I bought some chicken meals for the family and headed out to Pinal Villa from Melaque. I was shocked at the condition of the roads. They were stream beds. Flowing stream beds. Twice my Escape was temporarily stuck in the sand at the bottom of the water.*
If I had not been on a specific mission, I would have turned back. But it was the impassibility of the roads that assured me I needed to press on. If I was having trouble getting in, there was little possibility that the family could get out on foot.
I had to park about a block away from the house. At first, the father was a bit wary of what I was doing there. One of the girls recognized me, though. And the food resolved any language barriers.
A chicken will not resolve their situation. As I wrote, there are plans to repair the house. I need to check on when that will happen. And I know more food will be made available.
But all of that is a start. As I drove away from the house, I thought of Mother Teresa's statement -- one that I keep repeating at moments like this: "God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful." To be faithful, we feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty.
What I did is not to be lauded. After all, I was able to drive away. The family is stuck there.
* -- I was so intent on my driving that I failed to take any photographs of the road conditions. If you are interested, take a look at Melaque on the Costalegre. Sparks has posted a photograph of the beginning portion of the flood run to Pinal Villa.