Monday, November 19, 2007

El Verano

Spanish for "The Summer". Summer has finally arrived here in Guanacaste after one of the wettest winters on record. A few weeks ago the central and northern Pacific coasts, and the Central Valley went through about a week of seemingly-never-stopping rain. The abnormal rainfall was a direct result of hurricane Noel's rampage through the Caribbean. The counterclockwise motion of the storm sucked warm, moist Pacific air overland where the it cooled and dumped enormous amounts of rain on a good portion of Costa Rica.

In my 'hood, the roadway portion of the iron bridge over the Rio Tempisque between Guardia and Comunidad was submerged for the first time that anyone can remember since its construction (in 20 years). The median river level of the Tempisque at the bridge is usually about 10-15 meters below it. If you can't imagine a river rising 15 meters overnight, see the phone pic at left taken by a passerby just before the river overtook it. It was awesome!!

It's quite amazing the bridge is still standing. Large uprooted trees slammed into the upstream side of the bridge damaging some structure and knocking down bridge railings. The flood completely gutted the Restaurante y Bar Cocodrillo, which is still rebuilding. It stripped the steep banks of the Tempisque of any and all vegetation. Huge trees that once stood on the banks no longer exist. When the inundation abated, debris hung to the bridge structure below the road, including giant trees and logs. One of my friends who owns a business next to the Kokodrilo, and who experienced flood damage, told me that the river rose 3 meters in one hour at one point during the night! It caught a lot of people off guard, including his security guard, whose car parked behind the building was completely submerged.

In Filadelfia, which actually sits below river level for most of the year, ostensibly protected by earthen dykes on the perimeter of town, over 1000 people were left homeless when one of the dykes caved in and a good portion of Filly was submerged.

Last week the rain stopped and things are much more pleasant. The leaves have begun falling as if someone suddenly flipped a gigantic power switch on the electro-magnet holding the leaves to the trees. The landscape will now brown out rapidly as the trees shed their chlorophyl solar panels in order to conserve energy over the long dry season. There's more good news too: the drought-stricken aquifers in the area have now been replenished and water shortages should be less of an issue this year. Ojala! (We'll see!).

Stay dry! Pura vida!

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