Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Remarkable Thing!

A remarkable thing happened this week – it rained!

Now, for those of you who are in California, or, sad to admit, watch the weather channel, or both, you already know that there has been record breaking rainfall this past week in California. As a result, there have been floods, mudslides, and pretty general chaos in that state. Now, here in the southern Baja peninsula we are not that far from California (Loreto is about a thousand kilometres or 600 miles from Tijuana) so perhaps it does not seem all that remarkable to you that we experienced a bit of rain here, when they are struggling with such an extreme rain event there. But, to put it in perspective, on average it usually only rains here 3 or 4 days a YEAR! That does not include the “rainy season”, which is in September (plus or minus a couple of weeks at either end), when we can get the occasional hurricane that can drop up to a foot of rain in a day. But for the rest of the year, a rainy day in Loreto is a rare event!

(At the time I wrote this, earlier in the week, I was not aware of the fact that Mex. Highway #1 was blocked in several places between Guerrero Negro and Ensenada after the storm, due to serious flooding of vados {where water crosses the road without a culvert or bridge} and some washed out Bridges. Travel on the highway has been temporarily disrupted until these problems can be fixed, so this was obviously a much more serious storm event in the northern Baja than I described in the following piece and I do not want to give the impression of trivializing this situation.)

The funny thing about it was, that when I went outside this morning to get my bike and ride to work, I realized that it was actually raining fairly hard and steady, and I had to stop and think for a minute about how I was going to deal with it. I considered whether I should put on a jacket, but it was still nice and warm (in the mid-seventies) and it wasn’t as if it was raining so hard that I would get soaked. Even if I did get a bit wet, I was wearing a golf shirt and a pair of shorts so I wasn’t going to ruin anything I was wearing. I also considered a hat, but again, I wasn’t going to be out in the rain all that long, the Open House where I spend my mornings is only a couple of blocks away from my house and on the bike it is less than a 5 minute ride. But I did go back inside and get a cloth to wipe the water off the bike seat and then I was on my way.

Now the main street (we call it the Paseo) that runs through the development is not fully paved at this time (it’s a long story, but finishing the re-working of this road is awaiting action by whoever the new Owner of the development is) so my ride was wetter and muddier than usual. (Funny thing – when you add water to sand you get mud!) So I picked my way fairly carefully between the numerous puddles because I was conscious of the fact that my bike doesn’t come equipped with fenders on the wheels and I didn’t want to spend the morning at work with a “skunk stripe” of mud up my back. This, of course, has never been a problem before – who needs fenders on your bike if you ride it in a place where it never rains?

When I arrived and opened up the Open House I hesitated as I went to enter through the door – my feet were wet and I would get the floor wet when I walked on it – then I realized that it didn’t matter. As those of you who are familiar with the homes in Loreto Bay will know, these houses are designed around interior courtyards that are open to the sky above, so of course, as I walked into the courtyard the tile floor surrounding it was all wet from the same rain as I had just ridden through. When your home is built around an open air courtyard, and it rains, your floors get wet – Duuh!

Now before you get the wrong idea, the actual rooms inside the house did not have wet floors, just around the courtyard garden area. In any event, all the floors down here are Saltillo tile and so a few wet footprints wasn’t going to spoil anything.

Part of my usual routine in the morning is having a cup of coffee on the second floor roof-top terrace – but this morning it was wet up there – so I settled for sitting around the dining room table with my coffee this morning. I realize how these appear to be pretty minor things, especially considering the winter weather many of you are having to deal with where you live, but I guess my point is that when you live here – where the weather is so consistently good, day after day - you kind of forget how to deal with the rare inclement day. You get out of practice! But what that actually means, is that when we do get one of those rare days, like today, it serves as a reminder about how perfect the weather is here all the rest of the time.

There is also a novelty factor to the change in weather. Dare I say it, consistently perfect weather, while maybe not actually boring, does cause one to be guilty of taking the fine weather for granted. So, down here, a rainy day is cause for some mild celebrating and it was obvious, as I rode down the Paseo, that the general mood on the street was even happier than usual, particularly among the Mexicans working at their various jobs, who make up the majority of people I see on the Paseo in the morning. These people, who have lived in this climate so much longer, would be even more likely to react strongly to the novelty of the weather than I did.

Now before I give anyone reading these words from afar the wrong impression, the rain did stop before noon - no need to send us inflatable rafts! And it was also a surprise how quickly things dried up again after the rain had stopped. Because all of the extensive plantings and landscaping in the development are irrigated the rain we received during the night and into this morning will not have a noticeable effect in our immediate surroundings. However, I expect it will be a different situation in the natural surroundings nearby.

In the past, when we have had some rain like this, (it rarely lasts an entire day, and seldom falls very hard) a couple of days later the flush of green vegetation is noticeable along the sides of the highway and, beyond that, into the Mountains that surround this beautiful piece of shoreline. It doesn’t take much rain in a desert to turn things green – so fast that you can almost watch it happening before your eyes!

So, that’s about it for this week – it rained. Now, I have occasionally been accused about a tendency to be somewhat “Seinfeldian” when it comes to choosing subjects for this Blog – much ado about nothing – but, in this case I am innocent! When you live in a desert – albeit in an irrigated beautiful housing development, in a desert – a rainy day IS something to write “home” about! If only because it puts things into perspective and helps me to appreciate the wonderful weather, day in and day out, that become so easy to take for granted when a person is so lucky to live in a place like this.

Learning a lesson about appreciation on the occasion of a rainy day – that’s really “Living Loreto”!

P.S. My good thoughts go out to any travellers stuck on the Highway north of here, I hope you get to your destinations safe and sound – if a little damp!