September 30, 2009

Life's a Beach

Inn at Loreto Bay

Good news in the offing for fans of the Inn at Loreto Bay and golf course—the hotel re-opened a few days ago under the management of Fonatur. Esperando and I are looking forward to spending a little time there this weekend to relax on the beach. It can be breezy there, but I am more concerned today about rain. Hopefully the weather will cooperate, it is overcast and Invest 91, a loosely organized storm mass drifting off the coast of Cabo is said to have a 30 to 50 percent chance of developing into a tropical storm in the next 48 hours. Esperando called from Loreto this morning where it was raining, thundering and lightening to ask me to look up the weather on the computer. I suppose a little rain might wash away some of the lingering dirt on the streets from our mudbath with Jimena, but I am happy without any rain for now.

Since we have some big investors spending the night tonight we are planning a nice barbecue for entertainment this evening. Even the dog has even been bathed in honor of the occasion. The evening will start with margaritas and hors d'œuvres of shrimp, guacamole, taquizos (part of a corn tortilla wrapped around a piece of hot dog, and the whole fried with a dip of hot sauce—actually quite tasty) and barbecued sausage followed by steaks, charro beans, a savory squash pudding, and my special coleslaw recipe of cabbage and halved grapes with oil and vinegar dressing. Dessert will be a carrot cake and Don Julio tequila reposado. We are also preparing a strata today for breakfast tomorrow morning that will need to sit all night in the refrigerator and that will be served with a fruit salad; Treasure Cake (a secret cinnamon cake recipe of my mother’s friend); a banana cake from the Union Street Inn B&B in San Francisco; and toasted bilotes (French bread) from the Panaderia Frances downtown. Hopefully no one will go away hungry.

Green Chile and Chorizo Strata

The following modified recipe (to use local ingredients) found on from Bon Appetit will be served for breakfast. Makes 6 servings

14 to 16 ounces chorizo sausage, casing removed
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 c lowfat milk
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 c sourdough bread, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 3/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, about 7 ounces
2 4-ounce cans chopped mild green chilies
1 diced Jalapeno chile, seeds removed
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Butter 8-cup soufflé or baking dish. Sauté chorizo in heavy large skillet over medium-low heat until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer chorizo to plate lined with paper towels; drain well. Whisk next 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Place 2 bread slices in bottom of prepared dish. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese and half each of chilies, cilantro and chorizo. Pour 1/3 of egg mixture over. Repeat layering with 2 bread slices, 3/4 cup cheese and remaining chilies, cilantro and chorizo. Pour half of remaining egg mixture over. Top with 2 bread slices. Pour remaining egg mixture over and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover; chill overnight. Cook at 350F for one hour.

September 28, 2009

The cat came back the very next day

As recorded by the NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS:

Well, just like everybody you have troubles of your own
But let me tell you, Mister, of the sorrow I have known
I had an old gray cat, that I couldn't bear to keep
He spent the nights a-howl'n and he wouldn't let me sleep

So I put him in a box and I tied it up quite well.
I had some fellows help me and I paid them not to tell
We put it in a boxcar, the Westbound Seven-Ten
The train pulled away and was never seen again

But the cat came back, the very next day
Yes the cat came back and he wouldn't stay away
Meow, kitty! Meow, so pretty!
Meow, such a pity, but the cat came back

So I took him to the harbor and I put in on a ship
I bid him bon voyage! for that oceanic trip
The captain was obligin' and glad to help us out
We tied him to the anchor so that there could be no doubt

Well, we heard that sad report of that might storm at sea
And though it may sound heartless, I was happy as could be
The paper said the ship went down beneath a heavy gale
And not a single soul was left to tell the awful tale

But the cat came back, the very next day
Yes the cat came back and he wouldn't stay away
Meow, kitty! Meow, so pretty!
Meow, such a pity, but the cat came back

So I gave him to a scientist, destined for the moon
The cat was used for ballast in an outer space balloon
I guess you know what happened, that balloon's up there still
And early that next morning, guess what came across the hill

(Meow! That's right)

Now, everyone in town was sworn to shoot that cat on sight
With that crazy cat around you couldn't sleep at night
We even formed a posse just to hunt that critter down
You could hear the guns a-blazin' as they ran him out of town

But the cat came back, the very next day
Yes the cat came back and he wouldn't stay away!
Meow, kitty! Meow, so pretty!
Meow, such a pity, but the cat came back.

Carmen has not come back yet.

September 27, 2009

If you love it let it go. If it returns to you cherish it, if not it was never truly yours.~proverbs~

Carmen of the paint splattered face.

I feel like a big mean bully. I finally kicked Carmen the feral kitten, now cat, off the island. She had become increasingly wild, it was pathetic how much she avoided any human contact, and how she hid all the time behind couches, in drawers, or ran away, forced into our room at night by me at a pathetic attempt to socialize her. At 4 in the morning she would start meowing at me to be let out of our bedroom so she could get away from us.

Today when Esperando and the Cowboy went off to scuba dive, I woke up from my nap and started stuffing my face with tortilla chips and the cook’s fiery salsa. Maybe it was the salsa that made me do it, or boredom, but I decided to send her packing. I shut the rest of the pets up in our bedroom, opened the front door and chased her all over the house. After about 3 circuits of the living room/dining area and brief interlude down the hall to the bodega where I rousted her out of the corner she was hiding in there on top of several bags of cat litter, she sat down and started wailing. Her only options were out the front door or being chased around the room. They say a mother’s love transcends all. Her mother, Mrs. Moustache, who has been separated from her for at least 9 months heard her cries and started calling back, almost coming into the living room until she saw me and scattered.

After several more circuits of the living room and more crying from Carmen, complemented by Mrs. Moustache calling back to her, she seemed to make up her mind and went out the front door with Mrs. Moustache calling to her. She walked away from the house looking back over her shoulder at me, like, ‘how could you do this to me?’ I don’t know if she will survive or not. She is so wild and not used to being outside, cars, people, everything frightens her. She may get run over in a couple of days. But at least Mrs. Moustache is there trying to befriend her. Maybe she will get her in line. I don’t hold out much hope, but keeping a really wild cat inside didn’t seem to be the answer either. I am sad and I miss her.

After 9 months of separate lives, black-and-white Mrs. Moustache was outside waiting for her daughter to come back home.

September 26, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggity, jig, jig

Here we are again in the Land of Mañana, we spent the night before last near the SF airport so we wouldn’t have to get up so early. Esperando thought our flight left at 11 am, in fact it left at 7:30 am, so getting up early ended up being really early. We’ve only been gone from Baja two weeks but it seems like forever. While we were gone we heard that the water system had already been repaired in Santa Rosalia after Hurricane Jimena tore out miles of pipeline, but now that we are here it is not yet so. They are using still using water trucks to provide water for the populace. On our drive up from Loreto we saw that the road repairs have held up, and they are starting to asphalt the highway where the repairs were just dirt packed before. The desert is turning really green and lots of things are blooming. The damage to homes near the highway in Mulege looks more extensive now than it did several weeks ago because people are pulling down damaged roofs to start repairing them.

We stopped off at the Hotel Serenidad to talk with Jack McCormick of Baja Bush Pilots who has been organizing an airlift of relief aid for Mulege and Santa Rosalia. One of the airplanes that flew in for the airlift was damaged landing on the runway, fortunately the pilot and passengers were not hurt. The nose was badly damaged and the propeller got badly twisted. Esperando and I mused on how the repair could be done down here so far from proper aircraft parts and mechanics and finally decided that they will probably have disassemble it and truck it back to San Diego.

I always hate unpacking a suitcase more than packing one, maybe that feeling is coupled with the realization that the trip is over, or maybe its all the clothes that need washing and putting away, or maybe its how worn out you feel after traveling—I am exhausted! It is nice to be home and have cats intertwined in my legs all night so I can’t move around in my sleep. No wonder my back is always contorted after several nights in my own bed, however they do make me feel wanted.

While I was at my brother Juan-in-a-Million’s house in Northern California I enjoyed photographing the grapes ripening in his vineyard, getting ready to become upstanding young bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon. They look so beautiful in the sunlight. We also watched a covey of half-grown quail gambling about in his front yard, trying to decide whether to take the plunge and race up the street or continue to hide in the bushes. That’s when everyone pointed out that not having cats is a good thing, no way would all those baby quail have survived cats that cannot control their urge to hunt. Crazy people! These same cats are great to have around to discourage roof rats, gophers and nesting flickers that like to eat your roof. As with most all things, there is a good side and a bad side to having cats.

September 19, 2009

It will all come out in the wash

Esperando and I both have colds. It is not pleasant to have a cold while you are traveling. Esperando was just catching his last week when he picked me up at the airport. I had been slugging Airborne down trying to prevent catching the cold I could feel coming on when I left for the airport in Denver. Just before I left I got a flu shot too, so who knows if I have a weakened version of the flu, my original cold that was trying to get me before I left, or Esperando’s cold or all three at once. In any event I started popping Ciprofloxin this morning, I don’t need to be sick here or when we turn around to go back to Santa Rosalia next week.

After the trauma of my brother’s death last week we are lying low this weekend without much energy, napping and doing laundry at the laundry mat since our hotel never bothered to change their literature about laundry service which indicates that they will do laundry on Saturdays. When Esperando carted the laundry bag down this morning they said, oh so sorry not on Saturdays. Last time he stayed here his laundry didn’t come back the same day and he went off to his meetings in a t-shirt and jeans, the only clean clothes he had left.

I hadn’t been to a laundry mat in a long time, they are still the same—dirty and depressing. Little kids running around and playing in the dirt while their moms sling around large loads of wash. Sad, tired looking people waiting to get their laundry in occupied tubs that have stopped processing, wondering if they should take the other guy’s laundry out since they aren’t around or if that will cause trouble. When I took our laundry out of the tub I was grossed out to see bits of candy wrappers, Kleenex and candy that were left behind in our tub from someone else’s wash. It almost made me throw up. We threw the laundry in a giant dryer and it was done before you could say ‘Jack Robinson’ and that was really impressive.

While our load was washing we went to Petco which was having a dog adoption day. There were lots of really cute dogs and I wanted to adopt all of them, many were rather small and you could easily have had several without any trouble if you lived around here; however taking stray dogs back to Mexico is like taking coals to Newcastle. Then we went inside to look at the cats. After that we went around the corner to a really cool salt water aquarium store with lots of soft corals and anemones for sale as well as beautiful fishes. They must have a lot of money sunk in that inventory. It renewed my interest in salt water aquarium tanks. Then I pointed out to Esperando how difficult it would be to maintain that in our motor home along with our current batch of cats and dog when we retire and travel around the country.

Esperando tells me there is another potential hurricane, Invest 98, brewing below Baja. Everyday practically now he tells me of another potential hurricane brewing. It may be true, but he is beginning to sound a lot like the boy who cried wolf and after experiencing all the devastation Jimena caused, I don't want to know about it anymore.

September 16, 2009

Where have you been Billy Boy, Billy Boy, where have you been charming Billy?

My brother died yesterday. My eyes and my heart are heavy. I did not expect it yet, I thought he had another 3-6 months. He had early onset Alzheimer’s, but his death seemed quite sudden, and I am in shock. Maybe I was in denial, but his wife didn’t make it clear to me that he was in these last stages, maybe if I understood what she was trying to tell me I would have gotten it. He was my big brother, the oldest child, enough older than me that he went off to college at Cornell University while I was still in grade school.

Besides being a big mean tease, he had a soft heart. He was the one who made up childhood stories for me about Finn, Gill and Scale (some mythical fishes) who lived in the Pecos River and had small adventures. When I got married he saved his corsage from my wedding and dried it and gave it back to me on our first anniversary. He was smart, witty, kind, a captain of industry and he will be missed sorely by his family and his friends, even though the man that we knew had slipped away some time ago to some other state of consciousness.

Hermana is visiting my Mother now in Carlsbad in her new location at an assisted living home. They went out to my Father’s gravesite yesterday at about the time my brother passed over. Next to my father’s gravesite is the place where my mother is to be buried, and next to that was a canopy covering a place where a grave was to be dug (my brother is not being buried there). He must have died just about the time they visited the grave. It hit a peculiar note with the planned grave so near by.

September 11, 2009

Got the jitters

Images from Sanispac

On Tuesday, we left Santa Rosalia at 9 am to drive to Loreto for our scheduled flight on Alaska Airlines. I think we were both curious what the road to Loreto would be like and to see how Loreto had fared from Hurricane Jimena. The road had been scraped or patched in about 20 places between Santa Rosalia to Loreto, nothing was as serious as where the bridge had gone down in two places south of town in Santa Rosalia. The desert was already really green, everything was leafing out. I guess that is the up side of all the devastation. Loreto seemed unmolested compared to where we had come from, although La Mision Hotel had stricken a number of items from their lunch menu, no doubt availability of groceries after the storm.

I didn’t realize until we got to the airport in Loreto how the hurricane had traumatized me. During and after it I felt calm, the local people around me seemed dazed and stunned, but I just kept going I thought without much affect. It was only when we got to the airport in Loreto with 10 days ahead of ‘vacation’ in the US that I began to think I might start crying at the prospect of getting away. When we got on the plane there was a pair of young lovers sitting across from us totally entwined, the boy asked us if we’d been in the hurricane, and though we said yes, his girlfriend was uninterested and I found I didn’t want to talk about it, and just said tersely, ‘yes, it was bad’. That surprised me.

Behind them was seated a gringa from Mulege who had lost her home, all her clothes and belongings. She hadn’t had a bath in 10 days or water to drink. She was quite unhappy because her neighbor across the way from where she had ended up staying (after her home washed away) had electricity. The electric company had commandeered her neighbor’s hotel for as an operations center to revamp electricity in the town. When she had approached the electric people to put a little power from their generators into where she was staying next door they declined. Finally 7 days after the hurricane with no water or electricity, she decided she couldn’t take it anymore and was fleeing back to the US. She left her husband behind in Mulege, and commented that he was probably better off without her. I heard her ask the stewardess where Alaska Airlines flew to from LAX, she had money enough for just one more stop. The stewardess said Boise. She said, ‘oh I don’t know anybody in Boise’. She wanted to get out of Mexico fast so she hadn’t even been able to make arrangements to stay with anyone. She said most of the gringo homes in the Oasis and Orchard parks were very badly damaged or washed away.

I have been in Denver now the past two days and I am very jittery. Every time I see street repair going on, or a downed road sign, or a damaged piece of furniture for the garbage collection my instant knee-jerk reaction is that it is hurricane damage. I guess my mind has been seared by what I went through, and I have to tell myself, no I am in Denver that is NOT anything to do with the hurricane. It helps me appreciate what people who have been traumatized by war or natural disasters must feel, my disaster was more limited in scope, but it doesn’t change how my mind responds at a very basic level to what I have seen and been through, and what the more unfortunate people around me experienced.

September 7, 2009

Punto Chivato and Mulege after Hurricane Jimena

Yesterday Esperando and I drove to Punto Chivato to meet up with Jack McCormick of Baja Bush Pilots who is organizing an airlift of clothing, medicines and other items to be brought in for needy residents of Mulege and Santa Rosalia. He had done a fly over of the peninsula for the last several days and thought that from the air these communities seemed the hardest hit and had the least access to goods and services.

The road into Punto Chivato doesn’t exist anymore in a recognizable form; it has been completely washed out. People are getting in and out to the highway in 4x4s. The arroyos brought so much water through that the road has been replaced with boulders, cactus and sand. The new road, a bare discernable track established by the first brave people who decided to leave after the storm, winds around obstacles, goes up and down and is very jarring to drive on. It took us two hours to drive to Punto Chivato; it used to take an hour. When we got to Punto Chivato the landscape appeared untouched. Some of the homes had damage, but much of it wasn’t discernable from the road. We off-loaded about 50 baby kits from Jack’s plane that were provided by the Red Cross. Jack has a container load of care packages that Walmart has donated which consist of food enough for a family of four for a week: beans, rice and oil.

Next we drove Jack north up the highway to see if the Palo Verde airport (40 minutes from Santa Rosalia) would be accessible for his airlift. From the air the taxiway looks good, but access from the highway has washed away leaving a riverbed of boulders in its wake. Driving up and down the highway one observes the many downed power poles and ripped out piping for Santa Rosalia’s water system and the electrical feed to Mulege. It will take a massive effort to restore these, it won’t be anytime soon. In the meantime we noticed a lot of potable water treatment units arriving in town delivered by the water company and electrical generators by the electric company. These Mexican agencies are responding extremely well to this crisis and deserve 5 gold stars.

We turned back around to take Jack south to see what the airport was like in Mulege at Don Johnson’s La Serenidad Hotel. When he flew over it looked like a lot of water was standing there. Mulege is in a shambles, mud and water flooded the downtown and went through many of the homes that were not up on the hillsides. The bridge was broached by 2-3 meters of water at the high point. Lots of downed palm trees. The Oasis and Orchard housing developments and the Mexican homes on the opposite side of the river are pretty much devastated and the road along side the river to them has washed out. It makes me sick.

The Serenidad had major water and mud damage and they were slopping it out, using water from the swimming pool to help wash away the mud. The runway that from the air looked wet was actually covered with a fine layer of whitish sand that had appeared to be water. In fact with a little grading the runway should be fine and should be dried enough in a day or two; Jack was hopeful he could land there with his squad of angels in airplanes.

We drove back to Santa Rosalia and showed Jack how badly it had fared. We invited him to stay for dinner, but he was eager to get back to his plane where all of his clothes and ditty bag were. So Esperando loaned him one of the mine’s 4x4 trucks so he would have ground transportation back to the plane, and then back to Mulege so he could start organizing his airlift operations. Tomorrow we are flying back to the US for 10 days. We will be one less set of people eating up the food and drinking the water that others are needing now.

September 6, 2009

Day 2 After Jimena

Current exterior of guesthouse redesigned by Jimena

It is such a beautiful day outside, if I didn’t know how badly the town had fared I might be able to fool myself into thinking everything was ok. The guards have been cleaning fallen leaves and broken tree limbs from the yard for the last two days. The exterior paint job on the guesthouse is damaged as are some of the inside walls where the water ran down.

A heliocopter just rumbled overhead. Yesterday was major heliocopter day, I don’t know if there was just one or if there were several flying around doing reconnaissance. The Governor of Baja Sur was supposed to be here yesterday doing damage assessment. The nearest airport, at Palo Verde (about 40 minutes south), is completely washed out. Esperando has been trying to help Baja Bush Pilots organize an air relief effort, and it looks like the highway near San Ignacio is a likely candidate.

We connected back up to City power yesterday and disconnected the generator. I was very impressed how quickly the electric company got the power back up, there were so many downed poles and wires from the storm. The power came on in fits and starts; it would come, then go off an hour later, stay on for some arbitrary amount of time, go off again and so on. The house was really hot to sleep in when the power went off not even the fans worked, there was no breeze, and the humidity must be around 90% from the good soaking the hurricane left behind. Fortunately the temperature was about 79F, it could have been much hotter. These big storms do cool the air down several degrees after they have passed through.

Esperando has been told the City water system is defunct: 2 km of water pipeline and one well have disappeared; they do not yet know the fate of the rest of the wells. People really need the water for drinking, cooking and washing. The government is setting up a potable water plant so water will be available. I noticed today when I went out the front door a strong smell of raw sewage.

We are starting to hear big trucks rumbling through right below our house. They have probably diverted the road past us. Transpeninsular Hwy 1 is IT for transporting goods across the peninsula. I know the road is badly washed out in places, but at least stuff is getting through again.

The Cowboy is flying in to Loreto today and will be driving up tomorrow with a truck load of water and other necessities for the employees. He will be a good source for finding out how the road fares between here and Loreto. It is hoped he can get the mine roads dug out. The Hurricane washed away the guard shack, gate and fence leading into the mine. It is as if there was no mine entrance ever there. The entire plain is swept clean as a whistle.

September 4, 2009

Hurricane Jimena

Highway approaches to Santa Rosalia north (top) and south (bottom three)

Hurricane Jimena has left a mess of Santa Rosalia. Both north and south Highway 1 approaches have lost big chunks to make driving all but impossible for anything but a 4X4. Downtown is still paralyzed with heavy mud. Electrical crews are working hard and electricity is slowly coming back on in town, no running water though. Baja Bush Pilots is supporting the Mexican Red Cross in trying to organize relief efforts.

The storm entered as a Category 1 Hurricane, sat on top of us for 10 hours, went away for 8 hours and has now returned as a Tropical Depression, a fairly steady downpour moving slowly at 6 mph. This is a pretty soggy place right now. We have been told by locals that this is the worst storm in 50 years.

San Ignacio gets its power from Santa Rosalia and so is also probably still without power.

The following excerpts of correspondence to is quoted:

“My name is Rosalva Rocha Cuesta. I was born and raised in Mulege, Baja California Sur. This morning I had the fortune to speak with my sister in Mulege. She related to me the devastation left behind by Hurricane Jimena. The trail of damage left by H. Jimena is far worse that H. John back in 2006. The water level was much higher(apparently 2meters over the bridge in town), than of H. John´s. Without going into further detail, I am sure you get the picture. The only store in town open for business is "´El Pinguino" near the kindergarten area. Most of the supermarkets in town had major flood problem damaging their goods and were left unable to provide for the Muleginos in ne! ed. La tienda "El Pinguino", was running out of everything this morning already. . . I am sending this message to you requesting your help for my people in Mulege. Muleginos have no way to reach out at this point, but they are in desperate need of water and food.”

“Hello Joe Diorio here at Chivato. PCH runway was in good shape until it started raining again this AM. Will need a couple of days to dry when the sun comes out.... Latest from Palo Verde / San Bruno/ Chivato Bay... what ever you want to call it. It´s unusable. large boulders and river ran through the middle of it. Hotel Serenidad (in Mulege) under water .... so we should have our (Punto Chivato) road graded to the highway as soon as the sun comes out and I´ve heard that the road from Palo Verde to Mulege is passable.... maybe air lift to here and run in with trucks??? Let me know if i can help from here. Will walk runway as soon as rain stops...”

People concerned about Punto Chivato should check out which has photos of many of the homes there.

And from Dave Perry “Jack, I just talked to Loreto, there is no electricity, which they guess won´t be connected for 10 days to two weeks. No water anywhere in town for 4 days. All food sold out of markets, gas station running on a generator-lines over 1/2 mile, night and day.” Reports from a local resident employee in Loreto state that there 50 high voltage power lines down between Cuidad Constitucion (where Loreto power comes from) to Loreto.

September 3, 2009

I am just imagining this hurricane, this can’t really be happening

Last night we were in the middle of a hurricane that had been downgraded to Category 1. Now that it was just a minor player and no longer the Category 3 or 4 that it began life as, it was as if it didn’t exist with the weather service. Last night’s trajectory still showed it passing along the Pacific coast completely skirting us, while in fact the satellite photos showed it had shifted coasts and was passing right directly over us here on the Sea of Cortez. We got up at 3 am Wednesday morning to start mopping. While Esperando and I were busy shop vaccing and mopping, the trees spun and flopped, the indoor feral cats hid and still haven’t come out, doors and windows thumped and bucked like wild animals against the wind, the air rumbled, the walls and roof leaked in places and finally all over, and water came in under the doors.

For awhile in the morning there was a long break of light wind and passing clouds when we ran errands, had a very early lunch then went back to bed for a while. Esperando periodically called his co-worker who lives in Loreto 3 hours south for status reports so we could try to figure out what was coming our way. They were totally inundated in a leaky house that was being buffeted by strong winds. At 2:30pm the wind and the rain started to intensify here and by 4pm I was sure the bedroom doors were going to burst open, they would bow inward an incredible 3 inches before snapping back into place. I finally sent Esperando off in the rain up to Casa Abeja to retrieve his electric screwdriver so we could screw the doors to the frames.

At 5pm Esperando started making a pizza while I kept the shop vac running, alternating every 5 minutes between our bedroom and the kitchen. The power died shortly after the pizza came out of the oven, somebody’s roof that was blown loose knocked the lines down just behind us. The end of electricity meant no more shop vac, and our enthusiasm for mopping expired shortly thereafter as we had been mopping all day. Then the water came in under the doors of the bedroom and kitchen and covered the floor about an inch deep in both places, merged in the hallway, then slowly began to advance across the dining room, then dribbled and pooled down the stairs into the foyer. We watched it advance as we sat and drank wine on the couch in the sitting area (up a flight of stairs on the opposite side of the foyer) and listened to the wind rave like a beast and the water drip inside. In the hallway where the guest bedrooms are located, the ceiling leaked sufficiently to inundate the floor. Water-filled blisters of paint, would advance down the wall expanding to 5-inches in diameter, before they would pop open adding more water to the floor as well as chunks of paint residue. About 9pm we finally slogged down the hall to spend the evening in the driest one of the guest rooms, no fan, no air conditioning, but the window open for the breeze that emitted little spits of water through the screen onto our prone bodies.

This morning we walked downtown to discover that nothing was left of the main road. Several large bulldozers were running trying to re-establish some semblance thereof. Tons of dirt, rocks and debris have been washed down from the north-south road to the bottom of the east-west road to bury it the major intersection with the highway in cubic yards of mud and rock or undercut it, leaving behind 10 foot deep ponds filled with water here and there. Everyone was out walking around with muddy shoes looking to see what had happened. Tin roofs were blown off, power lines down, part of the Eiffel church steeple ripped away, cars and trucks had been washed down the road and in some instances tumbled and buried in muck. Mud everywhere, everywhere. One of the unoccupied sailboats in the harbor broke loose of its moorings during the night and punched a hole in her side. This storm so much more severe than the one we experienced last year, I am glad it was not any stronger, Other than totally flattening the town, which a Category 2 would probably have done, I can’t imagine how the damage could have been any more severe. Luckily for us the mine got a generator up and running for the guesthouse so we now have running water, fans and an oven.

The tree that the fire department chopped back in our yard yesterday is still standing. Our antique French house was saved from obliteration when the security guard realized a big tree in the backyard of the guesthouse was going to fall on its roof. The mining security crew came, climbed up that tree that was being tossed around with dangerous high winds, and chopped a bunch of huge limbs off which saved both our house and the tree. The guesthouse also lost two of its big mango trees, and a bunch of smaller trees. A neighbor lady lost two really big old trees, ripped out by the roots. My guess is these trees were probably planted about 75 years ago and this storm is the 100 years’ storm. I don’t believe Santa Rosalia was ever the center of a storm like this before.

It is now 5:30pm a full day later, Thursday. As for the weather, it is still overcast and spitting rain on and off, breezy. The sea is gray and leaden, churned up with dirt. Our internet service is down so we have no way to know, but I believe the storm has stalled out over us and is just there until it spins itself dry.

September 1, 2009

Like the Queen on a chessboard, Hurricane Jimena advances

What exciting and alarming things will happen today, I wonder? The storm advances, now a Category 5. The sky is dark and threatening (this morning we had the lights on inside the house, it was too dark without them on); this morning we had thunder and lightening and the hurricane had not made landfall and was south of Los Cabos yet. The Muchachas (my maids and the cook) and I stood outside taking pictures of the darkening sky and it started to sprinkle a little bit. They helped me carry all our little pots of cactus starts that we have been raising inside and put them on the sideboard which we have covered with plastic. I don’t want them to get soaked and sloppy before we can get them in. I will drag the roses to a protected corner, the pots are too big and heavy to bring inside.

Sometime today we will have to bring in the patio furniture and other outside accoutrements so the wind doesn’t blow them away when it really starts to get nasty. Esperando will need to put up the home made storm shutters (plastic sheeting over window frames so we can prevent some of the water that the storm will dump from coming into the house). It isn’t expected to be more than a Category 1 storm by the time it reaches us. I know from past experience that all the hired help is not expected to come work when they have their own homes to attend to, so it will just be Esperando and me and the mops (we have just had Señor Jueves go out and buy us two new large mops, the kind you use for sopping up water, not cleaning floors.)

Photo of Arbol de India on right before being trimmed by the bomberos.

This morning the vigilante came to the kitchen and told the girls who alerted me that something was happening up at our ‘new’ old house. Since I couldn’t understand what they were telling me, I walked up to the house to find the fire department, accompanied by the only fire truck in town, chopping the limbs off the enormous shade tree (with a machete) that stands by our old French house. Last night our vigilante suggested we should have some of the limbs over the roof removed so that the hurricane winds couldn’t damage the roof. This morning without any inducement from us, here is the fire truck and crew. I am sort of staggered. Esperando is gone off on his morning walk with the dog. I ask them to please wait before they cut down any more as he will show up shortly. It is such a grand old tree I would hate to see it hacked to death. I feel a little embarrassed that we are getting such preferential treatment even though the Mine did donate the truck to the town. When Esperando comes in he has already passed by the fire truck and bomberos, he said it gave him a bit of a heart attack to see the fire truck parked in front of the house we are remodeling. The bomberos told Esperando that we are going to get a lot of water out of this storm, and they would just take a little bit off the tree. When he started going through his emails there was one from the mine safety guy telling us that the firemen would come to deal with our tree this morning. When you can’t keep on top of your millions of emails 24/7 you just don’t know what kind of interesting notices have been sent to you.

Having left those nice boys the bomberos en cargada of our tree, it was with great dismay that I returned an hour later and saw what was left of it. It made me sick to my stomach. The poor tree has been hacked and chopped and will not be offering us any shade for another 10 years. I knew in my heart that this cutting back of the tree was a really bad idea left in the hands of these guys. After all it had weathered countless previous nasty storms. They told Esperando, oh don’t worry it will grow back in no time. I don’t have the least confidence in this statement, it will take the tree many years to recover.

We went to run a few errands and I sat in the truck while Esperando went into the paint store, it is on the main drag. There was quite a bit of traffic, all the fishermen were hauling their boats out of the water on rusty creaky trailers, many with flat wobbly tires such that the trailers were scraping the ground in low places. The pickups hauling the trailers were loaded for bear with all the accomplices and relatives of said fishermen riding along in the bed. The trailers were piling into a vacant lot to unload boats and the in-coming trailers with boats and outgoing boatless trailers were creating quite a traffic jam. A cop held up further back in the line had his lights on and was sounding his siren to signal his displeasure. Three sailboats are still tethered down below in the harbor, I guess they are not planning on leaving or would have done so by now. They are owned by people (gringos) that live here year round. I am surprised they didn’t decide to get out of Dodge while the going was still good. There is a sense of hurried preparedness downtown; lines to get water griffons; lines to get money at the bank; lines of jumbo plastic terracotta colored tubs for catching water that drips from your ceiling water for sale on the sidewalk in front of the hardware store; and lines of military vehicles in front of the main plaza. Most remarkable is the utter silence that accompanies all of this, especially in Mexico the land of music with no music playing anywhere.

Esperando has gone off to board up the office windows. I sent the Muchachas home early, about 10 minutes after the sprinkles first started up. I sent the dog out to poop. Now it is pouring down rain, no wind yet. I think we have a wet 2-3 days ahead of us. It must be a very broad storm mass as the eye is still considered to be 33 hours away from us and we are already getting a steady rain.

Arbol de India after getting butchered by the bomberos.