The other day we went to a gathering and barbeque hosted by some friends of ours on the coast. They had been talking about it for quite some time, it was intended to have multi-purposes, including an opportunity to present and showcase their tropical retreat for sale to the real estate community, but there was also the personal element of friends gathering in a very comfortable tropical environment to talk story and share some good food. We headed down the mountain late morning to spend the day. It was kind of a sultry day, not much sun, very balmy and humid.
As we pulled into the small village we headed to the local pulperia for a refreshment stop before reaching the main target of the barbeque. It was early on a Sunday and already there was a small crowd of young men gathered at the corner of the store with their refreshments in hand, well on their way to a rowdy Sunday afternoon. An elder friend suddenly joined them with whoops and hollers and all kinds of welcoming noises. We were parked right in front, Mate was inside the store and I was out of the truck looking at the map of the local community that was plastered on the wall, then I returned to the truck to wait. It seemed as though there was some hedging going on with the group of rowdies, as they kept glancing over my way. I sat in the truck and watched the store, and the group…
The ‘elder’, already at least half way tanked, sauntered over towards the car with a toothless grin and stopped a couple of feet away, greeting me with a ‘Buenos dias’ and the other chit chat for a greeting, telling me that I was very pretty, and do I drink? His hand was now resting on the rearview mirror. I told him that I only drink with my esposo on occasion, thank you, and that it was time for him to adios. His hand was now on the door window sill, and I was giggling inside because as he was getting more nerve up Mate was ‘sneaking’ up behind him…he gently picked up the hombre’s arm, looking at him straight in the eyes while shaking his head ‘no’, and then he dropped his arm. The hombre jumped about a foot, probably had a mess in his pants, and then laughed and stuck his hand out for a handshake with an ‘Amigo!’ No, no amigos- adios. As he scooted back to the group they were all smirking and giggling. We loaded up and left.
The gathering had way more friends and guests than we had anticipated, and there was quite a bit of meat that was unprepared to go on the barbeque, which was a smoldering bunch of ashes that was being persuaded to come back to life so that the barbeque would actually be a barbeque, much to the dismay and frustration of the one that was prodding it. Mate is the barbeque master and so he immediately took charge, knowing full well that something had to be done immediately or there would be no barbeque and it was already after noon. He was assisted by two other men that helped to revive the smoldering ashes into a fire, piling more wood on as was necessary to eventually get enough coals to cook the meat. After that was going well he headed for the kitchen to round up the meat and season it all (it was all in the original packages). We of course were having our curious thought questions about the lack of preparedness to host such an event, but no matter, the master was here and taking charge and there was still hope for a barbeque. The host scurried off to prepare for his planned poker game in the evening, now that he was off the hook for the barbeque.
The meat was seasoned and the fire was going and Mate was being the fire tender and we were able to visit with some of the other guests around the fire. One thing about being around a big fire in the tropics, it keeps the bugs away, but the sweating was in abundance! No matter, it was all good. We prepared a makeshift table out of an old plank of wood and before long it was time for the meat to go on, the food was spread out on the outdoor kitchen bar and everyone was hungry and starting to serve up. The meat was cooked to perfection, it was a variety of hamburgers, a chunk of beef, some Italian sausages and grilled vegies – all very good, everyone enjoyed.
The sky however had continued to darken, even though it was still early. There were several of us that had quite a distance to travel to get home, and a couple of our good friends left just before the raindrops began to fall. It had been thundering for an hour with some lightening, and when the wind came up we knew that a storm was close. We were wrapping up our greetings while gathering our dishes when the rain hit, we were a little bit late…
As we headed up the costanera highway the lightening was right overhead and the thunder was deafening, not to mention that the rain started pounding so hard that we could barely see, the wipers were barely dealing with the water pouring down upon us. There were a few other cars on the road, as well, and as we slowly made our way some of them pulled over to the side of the road to wait out the worst of the rain. Hmmm, to wait it out could mean a long time, so we plowed on through. The truck was hydroplaning on the road, there were places where the water was a river crossing the road and already there were mudslides starting to happen and trees falling down along the sides of the road, some onto the road. All we could think about was moving right along as we wondered about the condition of our own road going up the mountain, and how will our river be to cross now?
The lightning and thunder continued to hammer us from overhead, the torrential rain continued and we kept the boat afloat to where we turned inland to head up higher in elevation. After we reached about half way to our turnoff the rains diminished enough that we could actually see where we were going, and now there was the essence of light in the clouds (it was still early in the late afternoon, after all). By the time we got to the main turnoff heading north, now on the off roads, the rain was tolerable and there was hope. The rivers that we had seen thus far were swollen and raging and very muddy, not a good sign. The roads were actually decent, though, after having the rain solidify the loose dirt and gravel that we had been slipping and sliding on for the past couple of months during the dry season, there are perks in some ways.
We got to our little village where we turned up the mountain towards home. It was still raining, but it had lightened up considerably instead of the torrential downpour of the coast, so we continued on. It was during this time that the thoughts began to jump into my brain, ‘What if we cannot cross the river? What will we do? Where will we go or stay?’ It was getting late now, there are no motels at all, besides we had zero funds for that so it truly was a serious moment for me. Mate suggested that we could stay with the Brothers on this side of the river until the river went down…ha ha ha, not a chance, that would truly be an emergency (so far this was not THAT kind of emergency) to do that. There is no light after dark, these men live probably as simply as some of the homeless in the underground of the big cities! (Remember ‘The Fisher King’? That was The Hilton, comparatively.) No room for guests, for sure, however being who and how they are they would have cheerfully welcomed us in.
Anyway, we kept going with faith. The river was high, fast and muddy, but it was something that we were willing to try slowly and surely, plowing a couple of feet of water – phew! We made it. Now if there are no trees across the road we are good and will sleep in our own beds tonight.
We made it home, but it was clearly evident that the storm had visited there earlier as there was water everywhere that we had never seen it before! The entire understory of the house was puddled, everything in planters growing along the edges had been pounded with driving rain, the deck above was soaked and all of the things draped over the railing were soaked. Thank you for the house being dry! I have had driving rain enter my room before, but thankfully not this time. Not a disaster, but most certainly a warning, and a good reminder for us to consider such things before making our next move – access in bad weather! Of course, there are never 100% guarantees when it comes to weather, especially these days, but if there are some minor adjustments that can be considered ahead of time, it could be worthwhile down the road.
Speaking of roads, after traveling that road on this day we realized many things, that we are so vulnerable to the Mother’s fury, even though she may not have been actually mad, let’s call it a temper tantrum, we still must be prepared to deal with it. When Mom or Dad was mad at little brother or sister and we happened to get in the way, the fury was just as furious, even if not a direct hit! Being prepared for whatever, and living way out here having a place to go in those emergencies is important, and we do have friends along the main roads that we would have been welcomed to camp with, no problem. But now is an important time to take stock of the emergency supply kit. A chainsaw would be nice, perhaps a snorkel for the truck, new tires are definitely in order, and maybe another saddle for when the vehicles don’t work anymore? So many things to wonder about, yet these ‘things’ may never be a part of our package, and so it is what it is. We are definitely into some challenging times, but honestly: there is no way we can be physically prepared for all of it. It is more important to keep a good attitude, and NOT to succumb to any thoughts from fear. In the worst of challenges this is most important. And here again I stress: EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED, stuff is going to happen, each and every one of us has a front row seat to the events of the near future, come what may.
Yes, these are interesting and exciting times, to be sure. With some faith and fortitude we will be calm and clear about what we should do next, in any event. In the meantime, the land is getting well watered and quickly greening up! Gratitude for all is so important; it certainly helps to maintain much needed balance. I was most grateful to be sleeping in my own bed that stormy night, and it was dry! ‘Next time’ could be very different.