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Thursday, May 29, 2008


It has been raining here for three days and nights. Not just rain, but downpours with high winds! Every tiny defect in the galvanized iron roofs of the people in Costa Rica has been exaggerated many fold. We've got big pots scattered all over the house and/or attic to collect the water from the leaks. It is impossible now to do any repairs because we haven't had even ten minutes of sunshine in which to work. This is a Central American country not far from the equator. And it has been COLD!

My wood-burning stove's chimney pipe burnt through a month ago, and I've been waiting for my neighbor and builder, Carlos, to finish another project so that he can come over here and make a new chimney. Now, with a big hole in the chimney pipe, I cannot use the stove to heat the house and dry out some of the air. And my solar hot water heater is no longer producing hot water. So no hot showers. I do have LP gas for my kitchen stove and we are only losing electricity sporatically (as usual) so no big problems with cooking or lights, etc. I have a huge back-up water tank holding potable water in case of national potable water service failures, but that doesn't look as though it will be a problem.

I have chronic sinus problems and now I've been having sinus bleeds and much pain for two days. A result of very low pressure systems over the country. Ouch!

But it could be much, much worse. We did have three little earthquakes a couple of days ago, but they caused no damage, thank goodness! Guanacaste Province in the north had been in the depths of a very serious drought! Cattle died and crops withered. Now they are suddenly dealing with major flooding.

I have just learned that this nasty weather system has been declared a tropical storm and is moving toward Nicaragua where it is expected to make landfall. Poor Nicas! The economy of Nicaragua is in shambles and Costa Rica is flooded with illegal immigrants fleeing starvation and seeking some kind of income to send to families in Nicaragua. So that poor nation certainly doesn't need more troubles! The tiny isthmus called Central America doesn't need more trouble. It has been plagued by war, disease, hunger, floods, earthquakes, and dictatorships! Costa Rica and Panama are making some progress toward a better life for its citizens, but the rest of Central America still has a long, long way to go.

Does it seem that this year has already been one of the most devastating in memory for natural disasters worldwide? Or am I seeing things with a jaundiced eye?

It is hard for people who have enough and more than enough security to carry them through any rough times to realize what the reality is for the people caught in the aftermath of a natural disaster. It is worse than a return to the stone age in terms of living day to day. It is surviving a minute at a time in constant fear and post-traumatic stress without enough food, water, or shelter and with the menacing possibilities that even worse tragedies lie ahead for survivors. We lucky few in this world who never have to live for months without bathing, with only enough water to sip a bit at a time, with scavenging for food, with cold, wet, and hunger gnawing at their bodies while grief and fear and anger battle in their souls - we lucky few cannot begin to imagine the true horror of these disasters.

And I wonder if this is not just a fluke of nature, but the beginning of the end. Is it too late to save life on this planet? Are we now facing another great extinction such as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs?

Don't just sit there shrugging! Do something useful! It's now or never, Folks!

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I live on the Pacific slopes of the Talamanca mountain range in southern Costa Rica. My adult children live in the United States. I have a Masters Degree in Gerontology but have worked as a migrant laborer, chicken egg collector, radio broadcaster, secretary, social worker, research director, bureaucrat, writer, editor, political organizer, publicist, telephone operator, and more. My hobby of photography has garnered some awards.

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