Our family drove to the neighboring city of Guamuchil for a birthday party last weekend. We took Esteban and his family with us, since the birthday boy and girl were his niece and nephew. We are the "adopted cousins". No jokes about red-headed stepchildren, please.
Anyway, this is storm season, and we check our satellite feed via internet pretty regularly just to make sure no hurricanes are headed our way. Consequently, we get to watch storms form and swoosh through the inner part of Mexico all the time (live via satellite infrared loop...pretty cool).
However, we happen to live in a little area which Esteban calls la zona desconocida -- the Twilight Zone. Torrential downpours, flooding, thunder, lightning and gale-force winds happen just about every week...about 2 miles up the road from us.
That band of red and orange just east of us is a huge storm which will build and swell and flash lightning and rumble. But we won't receive a drop of rain from it.
Guamuchil, on the other hand, is not in the Twilight Zone. We hadn't thought of that, so when we saw thunder heads building in the late afternoon, we thought nothing of it. By the time we were headed home, the sky looked like this...
Beautiful, albeit a bit ominous, and reminiscent of my childhood in Southeast Kansas. Click, click, click.
The rest of the photos on this post are pretty lousy. The windshield was dirty, I kept jiggling and I was using my "daytime camera" which just doesn't do very well after dusk. I want to share them, though, because without the pictures you just can't get a feeling for how tense our van was on the way home.
We reached Casa Blanca before the storm hit. It was pretty obvious we were going to get wet, and the sunset was throwing orange light on everything.
Awesome sunset, though.
We entered the last little village, Tamazula, just as the leading edge of the storm hit. Wind began to whip up dust, leaves and rubbish. People began to scurry inside. Well, the smart people did.
Then there was US. We continued on.
Just outside of Tamazula is The Turn. At The Turn, you leave the pavement and drive along an irrigation canal for about 3 miles until this glorified access road intersects the main highway again. This shortcut takes about 15 miles (and about 45 minutes) off of the trip home. Doug and Esteban quickly conferred and decided that since it wasn't dark yet, we'd take the shortcut.
Within about 30 seconds of turning onto the dirt road, the storm plowed into us. Almost instantly it was nighttime and the road disappeared. Doug said, "Esteban, wanna drive?" Esteban agreed, since he grew up here and knows all the backroads by heart, and started to climb into the driver's seat. Doug thought he'd just hop out and run around to the other side, but the instant he pulled the doorhandle, the wind grabbed the door and practically ripped it off its hinges. Doug fought to shut the door and then Esteban took over driving...holding the door shut, since the hinges were now bent backward and the door wouldn't latch.
We crawled forward with only the canal as a reference point -- and sometimes it was invisible. Occasionally Esteban would stop and wait for a gust to die down so he could see to move forward again. We did NOT want to end up in the canal.
It seemed like we'd traveled miles and had passed where the highway should intersect when we spotted taillights ahead. Hurrah! A car! The pavement!
Wait. There's a tree. The car is in a tree. No. The tree is on the car. Uh-oh. The tree has fallen on the car and is now blocking the road. I hope everyone in the car is OK! Well, looks like we're going to find out, 'cause here they come. Four ladies screaming hysterically. One of them screaming, "My baby! My baby!" Two men running behind. One of them carrying a small bundle. So, we throw open the sliding door of the van and yell, "Get in!" Just as the grandma is reaching up to get in the van (we realized this later, not in the heat of the moment) the van was struck by lightning. Praise God for our new fiberglass roof which didn't conduct the electricity very well. Esteban, who was trying to shove a towel in the crack where the door wouldn't shut, Grandma and the man helping Grandma in all got a little "tingle" but nothing more. God is so good.
Half an hour later, Grandma has finally stopped screaming, the worst part of the wind and driving rain is over and we turn ourselves around on the narrow canal road to head back to Tamazula so we can take the long way home.
Because of downed powerlines and trees along the highway, it took nearly 2 hours to travel the 20 miles home. We were so relieved to be driving on pavement, it didn't really matter. We sang praise songs and openly gave God the glory for getting us home. As we passed the canal road intersection, we could see the tree which had fallen and the car under it. It was less than 100 yards from the highway. Sigh. We had been so close.
If we'd been two minutes earlier, we would have made it through and been safely on our way. If we'd been two minutes later, we would not have taken the turn. In that case, where would the family be who was with us? Sitting in their car under a tree waiting for some other idiot out driving on the muddy canal road in a torrential downpour to come by and help? Again we praised God for His timing and His care over everyone in the car!
As we drove toward Las Glorias, Esteban and Doug "took bets" on whether there was electricity in Las Glorias. Back and forth they went, "I think so." "I don't think so." The lightning was still flashing and the rain was still falling. Several cars had driven off the road and were now hopelessly stuck in the mud. Ahead in the distance, we saw the lights at the top of the radio tower and the Las Glorias Hotel. There's electricity in Las Glorias!!! Hurray!!!
Flash! Lightning struck.
Poof. The world went dark. The whole car groaned. No electricty in Las Glorias.
Basi, Esteban's wife, held the baby the whole trip. I took the picture and said, "Now, don't you wish you had another one?" She just laughed and shook her head...firmly. The baby's mama was still shaking when we got to their house in Palos Verdes to drop them off. Since the power was off, I walked them into the house using my cell phone as a flashlight. Not too strong, but it did the trick. Amidst hugs and tears, Grandma invited us to come and visit any time!
We made it home without further incident. Like normal, about 2 miles from home the rain stopped and you could hardly tell that there had been a storm at all. At the house all was well, although we could tell that there had been some high wind. One funny thing when we got home...
The duck was in the hammock. We have a strange duck, I know, but I've never seen her in the hammock before. Did it make her feel more secure? Were her feet too wet? Who knows what goes through a duck's mind in the middle of a rainstorm?
The power was off for 3 grueling days. On the third day, Doug and Esteban actually hunted down the power guys, who didn't believe there was a problem, and told them they couldn't leave town until they got the power reconnected. (Of course, there was more to the story than that, but this post is already too long!)
It's enough to know that we were able to sleep with our fans again on Monday night. Thank you, Lord!!! Thank you! Thank you! We are much more appreciative of electricity this week than we were last week!
With my fan blowing and my fridge humming I say, "There's no place like home!"