We greet the day as usual with sunrise salutations atop our roof. Marshall calls up from the gateway of his property below and asks how the sky looks from above? We report that the southern horizon is an ominous gray but there is blue sky to the north. We take our beach walk before coffee, while the weather is holding and make a long circle up and back along on our beautiful beach. We leave tomorrow and if the storm comes in, this may be our last beach excursion on this trip.
The rain starts to fall shortly after we get back from our walk and I make our morning coffee as the rain begins to fall. We pull our Mexican cowhide chairs under the cover of our palapa and sit drinking our coffee but the wind begins blowing the rain in sideways and chases us indoors. Our solar power is depleted and Art powers up the generator so that we can charge our electronics and I type contentedly watching the rain fall and the palm trees blow. I am absorbed in my writing and don’t really notice the storm gaining intensity but I take note when Art starts to pack and do many of the chores needed to shut the house down before leaving. He calls me outside to admire the texture and color of the ocean and I am hit by the blast of the wind and the pelting rain. The ocean looks like an undulating, stippled Serrat painting, an ominous black line defining the horizon. The banana trees on the property in front of us are whipping in the wind and Art is worried that the roads into town may become impassable to us in our rental car.
Our stomachs growl so I scrounge in the coolers and slice and fry Anaheim chile peppers to make my skillet version of chile rellenos. As I do so, I put together a box of perishables to give to Marshall should we leave which is looking all the more likely as the storm intensifies. The windows in the house are rattling and although we know that our house has withstood many storms and even one or two hurricanes, I tell Art that I do not want to be scared during the night and we agree to leave in one hour. While I wash and put away dishes, Art consolidates our minimal trash into three small plastic bags and puts these in the rental car and runs the perishables next door to Marshal. He brings our incinerator can upstairs, burns the combustibles and moves the recyclable cans and bottles down to the garage. We cannot leave any food remnants to attract rodents or insects so I scour our minimal kitchen and clean the bathroom. Art instructs me to fill our kitchen basins with water and to use and flush the toilet one last time before he shuts off the water and the generator. He is drenched from his many trips down to the garage and out to the car but we are in good spirits, exhilarated and charged by the storm. We zip our suitcases and make a final check of the house, double check for our passports and thump our suitcases down the slippery tile stairs to our rental car.
Our windshields are swishing on high and water is already pooling in places along the dirt road. Art maneuvers the road cautiously but when we reach Punta Gorda he speeds up slightly to get past this section, lest a huge boulder from above be dislodged in the rain and crush us. Rivulets of rain water are turning into small streams and cutting new topography on our already challenging coastal road. I praise Art for his driving but he reminds me that we aren’t there yet. Should we break down or get stuck today, it is unlikely that a Good Samaritan would come to our rescue. Our car jostles back and forth as Art maneuvers around rocks and ruts along the slick muddy road but I am rather enjoying the adventure until we come to a 20 foot across flooded dip in the road. Not knowing how deep the water might be, Art takes off his shoes and socks and wades through the water feeling for rocks and potholes. The water is only up to his ankles so we decide to risk it and he drives quickly into, and happily out of the flooded area. The rain continues to come down and we encounter a few other flooded parts of road and are happy that we made the decision to leave today.
The rain abates somewhat when we arrive in town and park. We assume that it will be easy to find a hotel and walk a block to El Encanto to check their rates. Although they have rooms, $180 is more than we want to spend and they suggest Hotel Colli, just a few blocks away on Miguel Hidalgo Street. Art remembers seeing this hotel and we inquire of their rainy day rates and secure a room for $700 pesos, about $55. Hotel Collie is just off the Zocalo and is darling. Our room is on the third floor with a balcony overlooking the rooftops. This hidden gem has numerous courtyards, benches and tables to relax at. Although our room is small it is immaculate and charming and has free underground parking. Art goes to bring our car around and I take a few things upstairs but head immediately back down with the intent of helping Art with our luggage. I step outside the lobby to call Alisha, scanning the street continually to watch for Arts return. After 20 minutes when he has still not returned, I grow concerned. Several military trucks have been circling the block with 8 soldiers in the open back of each and there are two police cars at the edge of the Zocolo, lights flashing. I begin to worry that Art has been picked up by the Mexican army or police and step back inside the hotel lobby to inquire (what?) of the receptionist. I encounter an irritated Art pacing in the courtyard, wondering if I had been picked up by the Federali? We vent our frustrations to each other and unanimously decide that after the events of today, a happy hour margarita or two are in order.
Our first stop is the stylish bar of an upscale hotel on the other side of the Zocolo. We order two mojitos and toast to both storm Sonia and to Barcelona where we enjoyed mojitos on many evenings. The drinks are as watery as the weather and no one else is at the bar to exchange storm stories with, so we leave and walk along the covered arcade to the Tropicana Hotel and Restaurant, an iconic hacienda style hotel with heavy hewn wooden beams and frescos painted upon the stucco walls. Wishing to be happier, we sit at the bar, order two-for-one margaritas that are served in large glass goblets, and recount our adventures of the day.
It’s not quite 5:00 P.M. when we leave the Tropicana and Art would like to stop in at a sports bar to watch a game. This is not a everyday request and today is not a typical day so we allow ourselves to be led upstairs to yet another happy hour watering hole where we are served vile medicinal drinks. 30 minutes later, we leave and walk back to the Tropicana Restaurant to have dinner. A traditional Mexican band is playing and we sit stage side and share a ceasar salad and a chile realign dish. The waiter prepares the salad at the table with great fanfare, cracking and whisking eggs and adding anchovies. A few couples get up to dance and we join them but when the music ends, we walk back to our small hotel room and sleep.