Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Movies, hurricanes and bamboo.

Its been a long week, one of those weeks that feels like a month.
A week ago I went to pick up my dear friends Jessica and Dave of Wooden Lens productions. They arrived to film a promotional video for Los Sueños. 
We got right to work, filming, cleaning, sweating. It was hotter than I ever remember it being at this time of year. Still and sweltering.
Weds night the power went out, no fan, no sleep.
Thurs morning we learned about a hurricane named Patricia. At that point it was strong and headed our way, but they always head our way then pass us by. Everything was pretty much business as usual.
That evening a small group of people who practice karate arrived from Guadalajara. I spoke with the boat captain and he said all the ports were closed, we'd get big winds and a lot of rain, pretty normal for us.
All the boats were being put into the lagoon, also not totally abnormal...although a sure sign of a doozy of a storm.
Since there had been no power, phones were short on charge and there was no wifi. So no news or warnings reached us that night.
In the morning I took down the mirrors and breakable things at the more open casa arboles and we went over to Los Sueños, which is lower on the mountain and more protected.
At that point we got the message that they were evacuating. However, it was too late, at that moment I heard the whistle from the Sarape (the large tourist ferry they had sent to evacuate people) indicating it was leaving...a sound I have always equated with happy time as a child, it indicated it was time to go home from wherever we were out playing. That day however, it indicated doom, bad choices meaning I had put my friends and guests in potential peril by not making sure they were evacuated.
Time for plan B, the secondary school was the designated place of safety, we turned on the generator, charged phones, packed go-bags, and filled water jugs. My wonderful employees helped until I told them to go home to their families. They deserve a hurricane bonus!
At that point one of the karate group came down from their casa and asked for rope...curious I went to see what they were up to, rope in tow. They were in the process of turning casa Buena Vista into a hurricane shelter. Tying mattresses to the windows, setting up the back bodega area with food, water, candles and of course wine!
So everyone began to carry all the mattresses (luckily we have plenty!), heavy furniture and supplies up there. It felt good to be busy, schlepping things through the rain, finding all the rope we could, setting up house. The karate crew was diligent, very well organized, and in good humor, we followed suit. Soon there was a safe spot, we all felt good about it, if not exhausted.
Then we waited. Watched the rain. Watched the trajectory of the eye of the storm. And waited some more.
Late in the evening we got the news that Patricia had hit land south of us and was moving into the mountains. We were out of serious danger, but knew we could still get a lot of wind and rain depending on where it went.
In the end we went to bed around 2am, to the sound of a light cooling rain and a few gusts of wind.
Woke up to a sunny day, with not a fallen branch or a flooded patio. Employees filed in, and exhausted but relieved we got back to filming, cleaning, sweating.
It is a truly strange thing, to know that destruction is hurtling toward you, to imagine this destruction, to hope it will only be material things destroyed, and to wake up to nothing changed, to return all the mattresses, supplies, and people to their usual place. Strange and wonderful.
The towns to the south and in the sierras were not spared destruction, and we must help them to rebuild...but by some miracle of nature (or whatever you want to name it) no lives were reported lost due to the storm. Incredible.
We finished filming (the video is going to be amazing!), headed into PV, Jess and Dave back to San Francisco. 
And I to Xalapa, Veracruz. Now I am sitting in a beautiful mountain city on the other side of the country. Falling in love with it's misty multi-leveled streets, it's sweet friendly people, and it's artsy university style.
Ready to learn all about the amazing bamboo plant and connect with people who love and study it.
As my godmother Peggy (who I believe shooed away Patricia, saying "not my house!") always said onward and upward! 
I am left with an overwhelming feeling of relief, love for my community, appreciation for what I have, and the knowledge that I live a charmed life.
Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!