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Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014
One man's blessing, another's curse

Chubasco envy
A Chubasco is a violent squall complete with thunder and lightning encountered during the rainy season along the Baja Penin­sula, West Coast of Mexico, Central America, or South America. Chubascos are simply another aspect to the Baja peninsula’s rugged and fearsome personality… but to some, it’s part of the allure.

A number of these Chubas­cos (hurricanes) have impacted Yvonne and me in one way or another since we began traveling to Baja in the late 1960s.

We have always been amazed at how resilient the people are who fall victim to these storms and hurricanes; how quickly they rebuild and repair, moving forward and not looking back.

One of the worst we encountered before Odile, was Kiko on August 27, 1989, but not only did Odile ravage Cabo San Lucas, it was more widespread, causing damage up the entire peninsula all the way to the U.S. border and beyond.

Those of us who have spent years in Baja have our own collection of “Chubasco experiences” where we faced Mother Nature’s fury first hand. Or, we have heard tales of frightening moments when others were caught in swirling winds of 100-plus mph capable of ripping off roofs, shattering windows, and flinging cars and trucks like children’s toys.

The strongest known hurricane to ever hit the Baja Peninsula, Odile, has just raised the bar of devastation and destruction to tragic heights… outdoing even Kiko, which blew the sliding doors out of the front of our home on the Baja beach, through the house and left them shattered along with the back sliding doors inside the back yard. Sand completely covered our block wall and the winds blew all the furniture outside, breaking it into pieces. Luckily, we weren’t there to “ride it out” and by the time we returned six weeks later, there were no signs there had even been a Chubasco.

It is interesting how often many who hear these stories respond in wonder with “WOW! Wouldn’t it have been exciting to be there for one?”

Even though it should be obvious that death or injury are real possibilities, we have had guests who we barely managed to get to safety before one struck who have expressed regret that they were missing it.

We try to tell them there is nothing exciting, adventurous or fun about remaining in the path of an approaching raging, roaring Baja storm!

Ask anyone who has survived the fury of a hurricane and you will realize the devil is in the details. Longtime friend and Baja veteran George Landrum posted the following the day before Odile slammed into Cabo San Lucas … “I have been through five Category-Fives, best to prepare for the worst, ’cause if you are caught in one, you don’t want to be under-prepared. All the laundry is done, cash machine done yesterday and today, medicines filled for a month, cat and dog food done, water and other assorted drinks done, ice, candles, batteries, thank goodness the stove and grill are on gas!”

Landrum’s well-thought-out list demonstrates the kind of commodities that one can expect to do without during a severe storm.

Always a given after such a storm are bugs! No-see’ums, mosquitoes and flies to name a few are more than nuisances. They spread diseases. And no water means no showers (hot or cold) or restrooms. You get the picture.

The point is this: Chubascos are not for anyone’s entertainment! They are not an amusement park thrill ride to be enjoyed in a controlled environment. They are Mother Nature’s dirty little secret that can be hazardous to your health, exposing the worst that Nature can dish out leaving death, destruction and discomfort to those who were unlucky enough to find themselves in the midst of one. Advice? Be very careful what you wish for!

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