Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A wet departure from the Gulf

"I hope somebody around here is building an ark," I told Kathy as we rode in a taxi traversing 2-foot deep waters from our hotel near zocalo to the bus station on our way out of town. The rain came up quickly about a an hour and a half before our bus was supposed to leave Veracruz for Mexico City, and the City of the True Cross quickly experienced what in Texas we call a "gullywasher." It came down in sheets for probably no more than 45 minutes, but we had no choice but to go ahead and get a taxi in the rain and risk the ride.

It was truly unbelievable how quickly the center of town flooded. Water on other vehicles foolish enough to make the journey were often up to the top of their rims in water. Some streets seemed to be on slightly higher ground or at least have better drainage, but we weren't on them for long. Whenever we'd head back into the flooded areas the taxi driver would put his hazards on, which I learned while driving in the southern part of Veracruz state is Mexican for "I'm about to do something really crazy in this vehicle."

In that short span of time, water was flooding over the curbs and into many neighborhood businesses and homes. At one spot where there was a grate in the road leading to the drainage system, water gushed up like a fountain above the flooding waters from the extreme pressure underground. "This must be what New Orleans looked like in those first minutes after the levees broke," I thought to myself.

What in the world must happen to that town when heavy rain persists longer 45 minutes, you have to wonder? Back home in Central Texas we have pretty serious flooding from time to time, but usually after its rained for two or three days straight. Veracruz reached a crisis state of flooding in the downtown area in an unbelievably short span of time.

We made it to the bus station just fine, though, obviously. The cabbie understandably asked for 15 pesos more than the fellow who had taken us from the bus station to the hotel in the first place, and to his apparent surprise I tipped him 15 pesos more. That brought the total for the harrowing ride - a trek I'd never have made in my own car under any circumstances, to a little less than five bucks.

By the time our bus pulled away from the station the rain had stopped, and not long after we left town the cloudy skies in front of us parted to reveal sunny blue ahead.

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