Tuesday, November 2, 2010

natural disasters & other big surprises

Esperanza on Halloweeen
A few years back while researching in Chiapas, I recall the look of horror from someone when I mentioned that I was heading on to Tabasco soon. But . . . they've had lots of rain, he stammered. I hadn't read the regional news for a few days, and when I checked it that night it just so happened that the entire state was bathing in the largesse of its overflowing rivers. Without a hydroplane, a visit was impossible, so I took a literal rain check.
Fast forward a few years. Last night I was poking around the tiny Puerto Rican island of Vieques, noticing that waves at the usually placid malecon were cresting and showering passing cars. Stopping to gawk, I commented to a passerby about the spirited Caribbean waters, and he dropped a tidbit about Hurricane Tomas lurking a few hundred miles offshore. You'd think I'd pay attention to these salient details by now. Little kids in Halloween costumes hung over the side of the boardwalk, screaming with mock fear when the whitewater crashed and spritzed them.
After dinner tonight, I stopped by one of the local bars to gather their details for the book. As a reggae cover band droned on, the World Series played without sound, and a handful of rapt patrons texted as they watched the 8th inning of the game. I'm not a sports fan, but I was a San Franciscan far from home without anything better to do, so I pulled up a stool and quickly made friends with an SF couple at the end of the counter. As the bottom of the ninth inning sped up, the spectacle drew me in and I teetered on the edge of my chair. At three balls and two strikes, conversation stopped near the television and eyes leveled without blinking. As the batter struck out, we exhaled to cheer, and the bartender lined up free chichaito shots for his three San Francisco patrons. ¡Salud!

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