Friday, November 5, 2010

Tomas hits hard!!

It's Friday night and I'm finally home after delivering bread Wednesday afternoon to Samara. It all seemed innocent enough - we heard Tomas might bring some rain as it headed north to Haiti. Wednesday's rain was gentle and steady without wind - really very pleasant. By 4pm the bread was delivered and I was having a drink with my friends Jack & Rhonda who have a house next to Rio Buena Vista in an area known as La Pista. It's actually an air park complete with runway. They have the place to themselves and are in the process of building a pool for the summer. During heavy rains the river can swell and water enters La Pista. Last May Jack & Rhonda first experienced the awkward helplessness of watching water come in your house. That time they had about eight inches inside and it was a discouraging nightmare to clean up. Wednesday night after a few beers we headed back to their house and I ended up spending the night since the bulb on my motorcycle went out. The gentle rain beat softly in the background. We awoke the next morning to the silent hammer of Tomas - the river had swelled during the night and was crossing La Pista. I walked the road a bit to check the depth, but I had no idea the expansion plans of rio Buena Vista. 15 minutes after walking the road and thinking I could manage to ride my motorcycle, the river took charge and there was no way out. The river was now 100 times wider and took up the whole of La Pista with a fast current. Now Imagine a house placed directly in the middle of this raging madness. We put sandbags by the front door and went inside to prepare for what we thought we could predict. A wet/dry vacuum ready at the door to suck up small leaks was like emptying the ocean with a spoon. Rising, rising rising the glass patio doors became fish tank walls as the water came up almost two feet. The sound of water rushing into a house is still strange to me - like springing a leak on a boat. We were trapped and didn't dare open any doors as the surge of water would cover what possessions we couldn't raise. Couches on chairs, mattresses up - we did what we could, which was mostly nothing but waiting and hoping the level wouldn't get higher. Their two dogs didn't know whether to walk or swim and were as trapped as us. Like a cherry on top, the smell of flooded septic tank ooze made for the perfect storm of house floodings. Finally the water abated and we opened the "flood gates" and drained the house. Natures ultimate act of irony stared us in the face - the only thing not flooded in La Pista was their not yet finished swimming pool! We spent the rest of the day cleaning the house since the water was lower, but not enough to drive. The rain continued on and off and we knew it might happen all over again, but doing what you can always helps in times of crisis. We drank a bit too much that night, but slept in beds that weren't wet and awoke Friday morning to a land of mud covering La Pista. The road was passable and my anticipation built as I knew I would be home soon. The long way is the only road with no river crossing and multiple bridges - it's the only way in and out during the rainy season. Imagine my surprise when I came upon this......

This picture was taken earlier and when I arrived both sides of the bridge were in the river.
I went back to Samara and then to Playa Buena Vista to see if the river was crossable at the beach (three rivers converge and empty to the beach at this point). The white water was powerful and although I've crossed my share of white water as a raft guide, I couldn't take a chance on losing my passport, money etc. Back to town to wait again. Jack arrived and said he could hold on to my papers and David generously let me store my bike at his restaurant in Samara. I headed back at high tide and made the swim. A reminder that I need to swim more, but all was ok - FINALLY HOME!!!! Today the sun is shining! I hope to post some video highlights soon.

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