As some of you may have known, we were rocked pretty hard by a semi-hurricane a few days ago. I say “semi-hurricane” because while it was battering us in Central America, it was still only categorized as a “tropical storm,” but as it reached the United States, it gained strength and was then dubbed “Hurricane Nate.”
As we were making preparations to return to our home here, the US and US territories were battling storm after storm in Texas, Louisiana, and of course Puerto Rico. So many people asked us if we had any concern for our home in Costa Rica, and if we were nervous to return. Some of those people didn’t understand the difference between Puerto Rico and Costa Rica, some not realizing how far apart the two countries are, and some just assuming that all the tropical, southern countries fare in the same way during their wet seasons. To put it bluntly, we weren’t worried at all. October is rainy. Rainy and potentially destructive. We knew that from the previous year and from all our friends and neighbors that have weathered many a wet season, and specifically, many an October. When we arrived, on Sunday October 1, we were met with such technicolor greens, and an abundance of lush, wet growth.
The rain brings beauty, and it had brought it in droves. We took inventory of our home, noted all the mold and dankness that we had expected, and prepared for a month of tough weather. The next two days were rainy, but not without sun. By Wednesday, we had a little water, a little food, a few beers and luckily, a full tank of gas in the car. It started raining. It started raining harder. And harder. We knew that the power would go out inevitably, which it often does, and knew that it would at most be out for 3-4 hours, as the power company is impeccably quick at clearing branches, fixing downed lines, restoring electricity surprisingly quickly, at all times of the day and night. Over the course of the next three days, the rain never ceased. At times we would think, “there’s no way it could rain any harder,” and then the rain would mock us with its increased pounding. Our power went in and out over four days, leaving us with two almost 12 hour stretches with no water or electricity. Before our road was destroyed on day four, we luckily got into town, (after a very slow, very scary ride), found the only store open, to buy water and a bit of food. One more trip into town two days later to try to buy more left us stranded, as a gigantic Guanacaste tree fell into the road, creating a stand still in the traffic as crews worked hurriedly to try to clear it.
In the end, our home never suffered any substantial damage. None of our rooms sprang major leaks, none of our old-growth trees toppled, and somehow our antiquated electrical system withstood the torrential downpours and wind. Many of our neighbors dealt with so much more. The street behind our house, which leads to many homes, was under very deep water for days, leaving all the people living back there unable to leave, unable to find water or food. Many homes throughout Costa Rica were completely destroyed and nine people very sadly, died.
The oddest thing through all of this is that we did not see this coming at all, thus, did not prepare in any way. We spoke to our friends who live a few towns over, and they agreed that they were blind sighted. Our friends and family in the states knew more than we did, and a few even wondered before it hit, what we were doing at that moment to prepare. I admit that we just have to claim utter ignorance. October is rainy. We all know it’s rainy. We all know that a storm can hit, and will hit, any day. But a storm like “Nate,” was unique. Nothing like that has hit our area in over 10 years. We aren’t checking our weather apps because there really has never been any need. We all know to prepare for storms and rain, but we didn’t think to prepare for something like this.
We are so glad it’s over, and especially on days like today, full of warmth and sun, we are able to pull our boots on, try to tick things off the list, and remind ourselves how lucky we are to have each other and our home. Things could have been so much worse and right now, things are pretty damn good.