Friday, August 12, 2011

Road Babe Dispatch From Rainstorm Hell

While I was trekking across Ghana's northwest corner to Wa, the sky opened up in a most tremendous way and even the larger-than-a-cat mosquitoes took cover. I was thankful for a tin roof and a lack of windows as water beat down like fists over my head. Afterwards, the road to Kumasi (which normally has potholes the size of coffee tables) had fresh mud pits leaving me and my pack an unrecognizable mess of reddish-brown.

A year later, I made the first of many trips to San Miguel de Allende, my current home. The city itself is shaped like a toilet bowl and all raindrops accumulate into fast-running rapids, cruising down the steep and narrow cobblestone streets to the town center. It's better to hide out in a doorway until the shin-deep rivers run their course, rather than balance on the slippery rocks and possibly land on your face.

While most people get around by foot, driving is even more dangerous. On dark slick nights, after Valley of the Maiz fireworks illuminate the sky in an exploding petition for rain, a lack of dotted lines or the presence of multiple conflicting lines can make even laid back drivers want to cry.

A few years along, I found myself backpacking in Oaxaca and camping on a cliff overlooking Mazunte beach. While colorful clicking crabs darted under ground cover, I set up tent and tossed my pack inside, then hiked down an arduous staircase to the beach in search of beer and other travelers. (The French nudists camped next to me just weren't doing the trick.) I ended up meeting a great couple: a Mexican guy and a German chick. (Love hot Germans!) Their shared language was English. We headed out for Camarones al Diablo (set-your-ass-on-fire shrimp) and several Caguas.

While grubbing and talking too loudly under a tarp, we heard it start to rain. We were on the other side of the village, only a few miles away, but the downpour was torrential. About that time, I sobered up enough to remember that I hadn't put the rain fly on when I'd left under a clear sky. Why would I? Nothing important was inside - just my sleeping bag, passport and working papers.

The rainy season is an essential and celebrated event around the world. It replenishes water supplies for communities who rely on it to sustain people, animals and plants. Coming from Louisiana swamps, I've always had a deep appreciation for agua, understanding that even dirty water is useful. Though I've often cursed the wetness (as when it drenched my identification and sleeping bag), I've never denied its essentiality. Without it, nothing survives. Only 2.75% of earth's water is fresh and therefore drinkable. Much of that is frozen in glaciers. This makes the global issue of water shortage and water privatization one of paramount significance. People have rights to water, but people must also be responsible in how they use this elemental resource.

Mittie Babette Roger is from Louisiana but lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University and authored the book It's Better to Visit the Shaman Without Questions to Ask. She travels the world volunteering to help disadvantaged children and promoting Blue Iguana Tequila to empower serious drinkers.

1 comment: