Friday, May 28, 2010

When It Rains

The rains have arrived. Last week I came back from a trip to Managua, and it was like I came home to different place. Where the hills were brown and barren, they had turned a dazzling green. My yard went from being a patch of burnt-looking scrub to a full-blown jungle of weeds.

You’d think the farmers would be happy, overjoyed in fact. And they were at first. But then it kept raining. For the past five days straight we have not seen the sun. Sometimes it drizzles, other times the rain falls down in fat drops, and at night it rains hard. All of this rain is bad for the newly-planted corn and beans, now drowning in marshy fields. Where people plant near the river, the fields themselves have in some cases been submerged.

Last night my neighbor invited me to come with her to take a look at how much the river had grown. When we got there, I was positively shocked. If you have been following this blog, you will recall that the river in my community had dried up completely. As in dry as a bone. As in no agua. Where that dry trough was a month ago, there is now a rushing river, too deep and wide to cross. We joked a few months ago that just when the municipal government had finally put in a bridge, the river had disappeared. Now, people are worried that the bridge is going to fall down because a couple of big uprooted trees crashed into it full speed during the flood.

I’ve been tromping around in botas de ule (rubber boots), even to go to my neighbors’ houses or to the latrine. I feel lucky because so far, the trench around my house has prevented the water from coming in. Others have fared worse. In one part of my town, where the houses are right next to the river, there is some concern that the river may erode away so much land that the houses themselves will fall in.

In talking about this flood, people often bring up Hurricane Mitch, which caused the worst flooding anyone in the community can remember. At that time, numerous fields were destroyed, turned into giant rock piles that have never been recovered for planting. This flood has been mild in comparison. And hopefully with a few days of sun, most people’s crops will not be lost. But whether they are dealing with floods or droughts, price fluctuations or political instability, the people in my community live much closer to the edge than most US Americans that I know.

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