Monday, January 11, 2010

oh that wild and wacky weather (oh the alliteration)

wow!! i have seen a few pretty cool water-related events in my time. an incalculable amount of waterfalls, torrential canyon floods, and one especially memorable storm at Lake Powell, where thousands of gallons of water burst from an overhead cliff after the windiest, rainiest, wildest storm i had ever seen. the flood we had here last week was much more tame, but that was what made it so interesting.

i had been up in my second floor room reading for a few hours. the rain broke very quickly, going from the first few hesitant drops to a full blown tropical storm in minutes. but ive lived in the sub tropics before, and didnt really think too much of it, even though i couldnt help but flinch at the loudest of the thunderclaps. a couple of times it seemed that the rain would let up, but it came in pretty full force for about 4 hours. when it finally reached no more than a trickle, i decided to take a quick peek outside to see what the damage was. as i stepped of the last stair onto the first floor landing, my foot splashed into about 3 inches of water. sigh. immediately i flashed back to the past P.O. telling me about the first floor getting a bit wet during the rainy season. funny how that completely slipped my mind. hopefully i can be forgiven, as my week of intense training left me saying "yup, uh-huh, i understand" and then at least 60% of whatever was said flying directly out of my head.

anyway, i ventured out a bit further; luckily only the living room floor and hallway are lower than ground level, so there wast too much to worry about it the house. i grabbed my wallet to head to the convenience store for a coke zero (my one western habit i just cant seem to break), and to check out the neighborhood. i tentatively opened the front gate, as there was quite a bit of water sloshing under the crack. i was pretty unprepared for the amount of water that had collected in such a short time. at least 2.5 feet of water had turned our residential street into a creeping river. perched on the top rail of the gate, i quickly drew my foot back before it could be suckered on from some creature of the deep. i leaned out as far as i could to see the main street that runs perpendicular, about 200 feet away. there i could see cars bumper to bumper, with the requisite scooters moving in between. a truck turned down my street, and by the time he passed my house, he was throwing up a pretty good-sized wake, enough to try to shake me off of the gate. after he passed i decided to give it a go, it looked lively and inviting down the street, i could hear people laughing from their stoops, getting a good view of the chaos in the streets.

as i stepped into the murky water, or course the first thing that came to mind was the one and only rat i had seen living here. i was sure i would be attacked my a mob of rats trying to get out of the water, like in indiana jones or something. they would try to climb up my legs like tree trunks (not improper grammar, i mean both they would climb them like tree trunks and they would climb up my tree-trunk like legs). or i would at least have to look away as i saw swollen, bloated bodies of dead..what...rats, roaches? i dont know, needless to say i didnt see anything gross or dead, just some dirty water. hiking my skirt up i walked down the street, a normally 3 minute walk now a 15 minute trudge. the neighboors waved and laughed from their balconies, and i waved back, by now very used to being the silly foreigner wherever i live.

the main street was indeed chaos, cars lining the street as far as i could see in either direction. the scooter taxis were making good time though, weaving in and out, the girls on the back trying to keep their heels out of the water. some people were trying to build little barriers to keep the water out of their shops, but most of the shops are raised enough to stay tolerably dry. i shook my feet off as best as i could, and hopped in the 7-11. the floors were lined with cardboard, but it was a challenge to stay upright when my shoes did find some linoleum. still a novice in the language, i just kinda pointed out the door and laughed to the clerk as i was checking out, and he did the same. some people looked annoyed, but most were just enjoying the breakup of routine. as i sloshed my way back to the house i collected our trash bin that had floated down the street, and in the house i tried to put anything important on a high self. today i finally got around to sweeping and mopping the house out. random garbage, some rugs went into the garbage, but the killer is the big tub of kitty litter that had been sitting out (which i hadnt even been aware of, we dont have a cat). it is now a giant tub of inflated muck covered by 2 inched of water. i havent touched it, it is still sitting there. maybe i'll get lucky and the next flood will carry it away...

now this was a pretty fun event for me, but as these tropical locations are built up, and the groundwater from these torrential rainstorms can no longer seep into the soil, it does cause major problems. read about current issues in this area here:
urbanization without sustainable design will not only destroy the surrounding ecosystems, it puts the very people living in them in serious jeopardy. so please keep that in mind when deciding where to vacation. love to all in this wonderful new year!!!

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