Chubasco – one outfitter’s two cents
Well, as I write this, we just came through another hurricane down here in Southern Baja. I think for me, it’s about number 8 or 10. Several while in Hawaii. Several of them here in Baja.
It doesn’t happen often.
I forget the litany of names. Norton was the one that just paid a visit a few days ago. Juan was a kicker. Henrietta busted us up pretty bad many years ago.
Odile in 2014…that was historic and its effects still linger. You can see Odile’s tracks today. Broken buildings that never got repaired. Missing trees. Busted billboards never fixed.
Odile was a Category 4 or 5 hurricane with winds at almost 200 mph. Roofs went flying to Oz. Trees were tossed about as if a giant hand knocked over a chessboard. Boats were torn from anchor chains and moorings. No water or power…sometimes for weeks to some of the outlying areas.
We live in La Paz, the capital of the southern state of Baja Sur, and you’d think we had those essential services pretty fast. Well, it’s not like back in the U.S.
We went almost two weeks using flashlights and seeing how many creative uses we could find for a single bucket of water. Showers…flushing…cooking. I have to say, we got pretty good at it.
Newton, which rolled in a few days ago, was pretty mild by comparison. Some trees. Lots of mud. Some busted glass. Some roofs (although that’s hardly “mild” if you’re the one losing part of the roof of your home!).
I have mixed feelings about hurricanes…”chubascos”…if you will.
As we run two big fishing fleets of pangas plus a large open-air restaurant, my first concern is safety for our guests, clients and employees. And their families.
If, like this last one, it doesn’t look too bad, we’re good to go.
Newton was only going to last a day at most. With winds at 50-60 mph and gusts to 100, that sounds like a lot. However, if you warn folks to stay indoors, stay away from windows (or tape them up), it’s just a big storm racked up on steroids.
Secondly, and sadly, folks are gonna lose a day of activities be it, fishing, snorkeling, diving, day tours…whatever. I hate that. Vacations mean a lot. But, back to safety. We don’t want accidents.
Even if it might look good to you, trust us. Or you want to go out “for a few hours until the storm hits.” Nope. We keep you off the water for good reason. We don’t do “Three Hour Tours” a la Gilligan’s Island.
Weather happens. We can’t control rain and wind any more than I can control sunshine and tides although some folks DO expect it.
Yes, if you paid for the vacation, it surely is MY fault. “Why did you make us come down for a storm?” or “You ruined our vacation!”
I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t Disneyland where all the rides are robotically controlled and every environment is hermetically sealed for your convenience. I’ve looked all over for the on-off switch!
Believe me, every outfitter I know from Alaska to South America hates to have to cancel trips, too! We all rely on happy smiley people.
So, as much as possible, we try to take the lemons and make lemonade…or margaritas, in our case. I put a positive spin on it, as much as we can.
We tell our guests to stock up on beer and water and ice. Munchy food is good to have too. Yup…go hog wild with Doritos and Chips Ahoy! Most of the better hotels have generators or at least loss of power is minimal.
And, I make a point of keeping folks informed.
Where the storm is coming from. How long it might last. Why it’s happening. Why we can’t fish. What to do when it hits. Information about airports and flights. People are terribly hungry for information.
Most have never been through a big storm like this.
And this is where I like to “sweeten those lemons” and brighten the potential gloom.
As long as they’re safe, I like to tell folks to enjoy it. Honest.
What else are you going to do?
To me, it’s fascinating to watch real weather…watch the skies and the ocean and rain all come together. I marvel at the power of nature frankly the magnificence of it all.
We have come so far with technology and consider ourselves the center of the universe and the apex of evolution. NOT!!!
When you watch a storm roll in…the ominous sheet of black clouds…the winds that sound like an approaching train…the sheets of rain…it’s a rare person that isn’t humbled.
I know that I am.
We have yet to harness the earthquake…the snowstorm…the tornado…the hurricane. Mother Nature sends us these little reminders about our relative place on the planet.
I try to impart that to our guests.
And, in that respect, I guess we are a lot like Disneyland.
It’s an “E-ticket” ride that might get a little scary. But at the end, you come outta the dark funhouse back into the light. The “safety bar” comes up and you all laugh…sigh…and head for a hot dog. And all along, you knew that’s how it would end.
“Most interesting part of the trip!”
“Wow…that was incredibly fascinating!”
“Maybe you should charge extra for that next time and just schedule a day off from fishing!”
“Best Baja trip ever!”
“Sat inside and just watched nature’s big screen TV in awesome HD!”
“I wanted to sleep in anyway!”
“Drinking margaritas and being part of…instead of watching the weather channel was kinda cool.”
“First time in years…no phones no internet…my office couldn’t reach me. I wasn’t compelled to answer e-mails. I had forgotten how wonderful that was! I read a book and took a nap…in the middle of the day with the sound of rain outside!”
Are some of the comments, I’ve gotten.
Of course, this is not to make light of the seriousness of the larger storms; those who have indeed suffered bad property loss or injury; or the safety issues.
Always, safety first.
Weather happens. Make the best of it.