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Jonathan Roldan – BAJA BEAT

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017
So close, so far?
Friday, September 29, 2017
Hear me now, believe me later

Woulda — Coulda — Shoulda
I’m writing this two days after Tropical Storm Lidia just rumbled over us here in Baja. It flirted with being a Category 1 hurricane, but never quite made it there.

But that’s just meteorological semantics. Because it certainly huffed and puffed.

A punch in the face is still a punch in the face. And when you have gusts of wind tapping 100 mph and more than 3-4 feet of rain falls in the span of about 24 hours … well…

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s still a duck.

NO SHORTAGE OF debris in the aftermath of the tropical storm.

And this was a storm. No doubts. Surely not our first, last or largest.

It’s part of living in a tropical part of the world. Like living in the Gulf states or down in the Florida Keys, every now and then, stuff hits the fan.

The devastation is real.

The ground can only hold so much water before it runs off to find its own level. It’s an unstoppable vertical, or horizontal, force. Mudslides, landslides and flooding can only be controlled up to a certain point. Winds break trees, knock out power lines, blow out windows, and push over concrete walls.

The inconveniences, while usually temporary, remind us how we take so many things for granted. Especially, if you’re on vacation!

It’s one thing they have to cancel a half day of zip-lining or that they canceled the booze cruise.

Indeed, I’ve seen people simply lose it over some pretty mundane things…

“My hotel refrigerator is out and all our freakin’ beer got warm!”

“This is stupid. I can’t believe I have to stay in the room all day because of this storm!”

“Like, can you imagine? My Instagram and Facebook accounts aren’t working!”

Yup… it’s all relative to your situation.

So much taken for granted. It’s great. Until it isn’t.

THE CABO SAN LUCAS Country Club took a beating from Lidia.

It’s completely different when the lights don’t work. And there’s no water. Or air-conditioning. And your flights are canceled (you’re not even sure… because the phones don’t work).

Worst of all… you don’t speak Spanish and no one seems to have any answers.

And everyone else is in the same boat. Running around. Rumors abound. Someone says this. Another person heard something different.

If you get through on the phones or e-mails, your airline says they’re flying on schedule. But, how can that be? You just confirmed that the airport is closed. Someone else said the road to the airport is blocked by a mudslide. Nothing makes sense.

I’ve now been through six hurricanes and numerous “tropical storms.”

I think I’ve heard almost all the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” stories.

For instance, always, always, always: Safety first.

So, there’s no reason to venture outside where things are flying around. Even, when it gets calm, sometimes it’s just before the worst arrives.

During one hurricane, I ran around a hotel telling folks to get back inside because it was simply the eye of the storm passing overhead. Things weren’t over yet.

Resist the curiosity to check things out. Even worse, resist that urge to take a selfie with your cell phone when all heck is busting loose. You do not need to hang off your hotel balcony or stand in the middle of a flooded street.

You know you want to. You know you’ll get a zillion “likes” on social media. I’m just as guilty.

But, things are flying around out there. Tree branches, corrugated roofs, electrical wires, tiles… They’re all missiles. Stay put. Stay where it’s safe. Stay away from windows, too!

By all means, don’t try to cross flooded arroyos on foot or in the perceived safety of your vehicle. I’ve seen semi-trucks swallowed up in these roiling boiling brown rivers. Every year, stupid idiots — I’ll go ahead and call a duck a duck — give it a try and end up as mere statistics.

Stay calm.

WRONG PLACE, wrong time.

Listen, these things blow over. They pass. I haven’t seen one yet that doesn’t go away eventually.

The local authorities and folks in charge aren’t doing this to screw up your vacation. They do their best to get things back on an even keel and back to as normal as they can get.

During Hurricane Odile several years ago, I had one guest go into a rage against a poor, overworked hotel employee because, “All I’ve eaten all day are Mexican potato chips! I want American potato chips!” Don’t be that lady.

Also, don’t be that guy who pulls, the “… but don’t you know who I am and how important I am? I need hot water so I can take a shower.” Not gonna happen any faster, amigo.

More pragmatically…

Never travel without a little battery flashlight. They make ’em so small and powerful these days. I always have two. You’ll find them to be the handiest things in the world.

Don’t use the flashlight on your smartphone. Good for reading menus, but you’re gonna burn out your phone battery uber-fast.

Save your cell phone battery for when you really need it. Bring one of those handy devices that gives you an extra charge, too. They can really come in handy and they don’t take up much space!

Bring extra medications and vitamins you might need or other medical devices. I always travel assuming I might get stuck or delayed. And I keep it all with me, too. It does NOT go into checked luggage in case that luggage gets lost.

I had a guy one year, who needed a catheter every day. You can imagine that his negligence suddenly became MY emergency when he got stuck a few days. At a time when I have 40 other clients without power or water, I’m driving through muddy rainy streets trying to find a catheter.

Bring a photo copy of your passport, drivers license, insurance paper, etc. and put them in a separate place from the originals in a Ziplock. Again, if you lose originals, you’ll still have documentation.

For Pete’s sake, buy some travel insurance. It’s cheap. It’s worth it. It’s really hard and time consuming to get refunds in Mexico. If they’ll even give you refunds. Some will at least give you credits, but why hassle? Litigation? Not worth it in Mexico (I’m a former attorney).

You’ve got better things to do with your time than chase around a few hundred bucks you lost when they canceled the glass-bottom boat excursion or your parasailing reservation.

For a few bucks, you can get fully compensated for airline tickets, hotels, missed activities, extra expenses and even medical expenses. One shot and it’s done. Fast and quick. You can check it out online very easily.

Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.



OTHER SCENES throughout town.

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