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.

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