Every year there is a ritual in Guanajuato-a kind of character endurance test-that comes each May and lasts until the end of September. It is a ritual that has been occurring since, well, the beginning of everything. It is, “La Temporada de la Lluvia”. This translates to: The Rainy Season.
What I am talking about here is that all of Guanajuato’s yearly rain, all 20 inches of it, falls from the heavens in a time frame of three to maybe three and half months. This may not seem a big deal but when that much rain falls into a Steppe mountain climate in such a short period of time, we are looking at a potential natural disaster of Biblical proportions.
The city of Guanajuato sits in a large canyon-like ravine nestled in an arid (Steppe) mountain region at an elevation of about 6700 feet. What used to happen was that this rain would flood the region, sweeping away flora, fauna, and a lot of really scared indigenous people (and, to the delight of the indigenous people, a few Spaniards went along for the watery ride).
So, the city government decided to build a maze of tunnels in the hope it would divert the flooding. That idea was a wash-it didn’t work. After more locals ran screaming for their lives during yet another treacherous rainy season, they eventually diverted the river from the downtown area. This, much to the happiness of a multitude of waterlogged people, worked. (The tunnels are now underground thoroughfares for car traffic-more on that later).
Today the river is about one block down the steep street from we live. Oh boy! And, there are still flooding issues but not on the scale of yesteryear.
The first year we lived here was bad because many rural regions had serious problems. Although I didn’t hear of any casualties, there were some mudslides which caused houses to fall into big, dreadful-looking holes, never to be seen again.
Last year, a house in the central part of town, perched on a cliff, fell a few stories because the rain-weakened mountainside gave way. No one was hurt, thank God, and true to Mexican form, they rebuilt! These people are survivors. They don’t get FEMA-like funds. They regroup, neighbors and family pitch in, and from the sweat of their brows and the labor of their hands, they rebuild-they survive!
During the off-season, the river is a stream, a trickle, a mere nothing. But, once the rains come, I feel major anxiety attacks. From where we live, we can hear a nonstop horrific roar. It sounds much like the roar we used to hear during the tornado season back in Kansas. It is positively nightmarish.
There is a small bridge leading from our private street over the river and I go into cardiac palpitations every time I have to cross it. It is a rushing of brown, muck- filled water, with the level reaching almost to the bridge. In fact a little way down the street, it often goes over a footbridge, spreading trash and mayhem all over the main street.
I am tempted to ask our landlady if the flooding ever reaches where we live. However, I am too afraid to learn the answer. Egads, what if it did?
The rainy season is 8 weeks away and I am counting the days. Meanwhile, I’ve got to go and get the ark shipshape and ready to go.
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