We survived Tropical Storm Nate….
It sounds almost surreal… and I want to be honest. We weren’t in any true danger at any one time. The biggest and scariest thing we faced was a total lack of communication. 22 people lost their lives to Tropical Storm Nate in Costa Rica and no one here even knew it was coming….
I woke up late one night and I remember thinking it was odd at how hard the rain was coming down. The sweet wet smell hit my nostrils and appeased my taste buds. It was around midnight. I remember feeling like it wasn’t ordinary but didn’t think too much of it… I went back to bed.
The next morning I awoke to another torrential downpour. I’ve woken up to a lot of rain before but this was clearly different. We didn’t leave the air conditioning on as we had the night previous so at the time I didn’t notice anything weird but as we woke from our slumber and tried to make some coffee nothing was working. No biggie… the power had come down before but when I reached for my phone to check on our business it was unresponsive. the cell signal and WiFi was gone.
Shortly thereafter I had a knock on the door… a young guy from the US had told me that he stayed at a friends house in the building beside and was trying to get a cab but couldn’t. If he didn’t leave now he was going to miss his flight. I grabbed my stuff and proceeded to drive down the road. In Costa Rica we do favors for strangers because its just the thing to do… the rain continued.
Our house is in the mountains and the first thing I noticed was that the rock walls surrounding the house had now become waterfalls. We drove about half a mile down the road before we came to what should have been a bridge. Locals were standing everywhere just watching in horror as a river had become plugged and diverted itself into a road. or, what was a road anyway…. it was now a raging river and in the middle of that river was a white Suv submerged in about seven feet of water with just the back sticking out. shit was getting real….
We drove the samurai back up through another road and went a secondary route that crosses a normally very calm stream. The stream was no longer calm. Five feet of raging water and two feet of mud now slammed through it with a violent fury I will never forget. Still, Darwinism is apparently unresponsive in my brain and I asked my new found friend if he wanted to give it a shot. Noooo man… Im good…
I drove him back up to the house and announced to Xenia we were going to go do something stupid and it was time to get dressed. She did and we headed down to the stream to try again where we met one of the owners from the local dive shop who was desperately trying to get to his building because it was flooding. We made some valiant efforts but even in four wheel drive we continuously got stuck. We even headed up to a back route through the mountains and tested the metal of the Samurai against some serious terrain before arriving at a bridge that had completely collapsed under the wrath of the flowing water.
Xenia and I headed home where we chatted with some of the neighbors. No one knew what was happening or had any intel. Now I would like to think I am very capable but without cell service, the most intense rain I have ever experienced, and no power, water or electricity, I was intimidated. We hunkered down for about a day before we went stir crazy and attempted the river crossing again. This time we made it and we headed into town where everything was under a couple of feet of water. We weren’t in Kansas anymore toto…
We headed to grab some groceries where there were hundreds of people gathered. The waves and storm had decimated the beach and houses had been flooded and destroyed. No one knew how long it would last or how bad it was. We eventually met up with friends and took a drive out of town to get a cellular signal on some hills so we could let our parents know we were alright.
I mean… its weird… we’ve dealt with major snow storms our entire life but hell hath no fury like that of gravity, kinetic energy and water. Roads had collapsed and the city looked post apocalyptic. We went for three days just hanging out, eating peanut butter and processed food (we couldn’t cook) before the power and cell signals were restored. I should have been happy to disconnect… Instead we worried about all of the work we weren’t getting done.
I was also ridden with guilt. I mean, I saw so much of this on the TV and never batted an eye when I was in Canada. Didn’t even phase me. With all of the major hurricanes and tropical storm damage around the world this year seeing the impact of a low-medium moderate storm, it became real very quick. I felt guilty about my previous disassociation. So much choas over nature…
I have been spending some of my time helping neighbors and we helped for a few hours with the Coco Beach cleanup today. The only emotion that really overpowered my guilt was the realization that we were living in a country that made the best of the worst. Watching the community come together to quickly cleanup was truly inspiring. Everyone just helped everyone. It wasn’t expected or asked. It was just the thing to do.
the biggest learning we will take away from the experience is that we need to be better prepared because this kind of thing can happen in Costa Rica. Maybe not often, but it can happen.
I also learned that my relationship with the internet and my dependence on power, energy, and water is far too high and that bad shit happens to good people all around the world every day and life in Canada just beats on. These aren’t images we see on the TV screens… they aren’t actors and its not a joke. I will definitely aim to do more to serve the community who’s spirit leaves me in awe with nearly every interaction.
Until next time. Pura Vida