Hurricane Odile and the aftermath
This is me the morning after the hurricane Odile. The hurricane hit sometime in the middle of the night. It was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in Baja, and the 15th strongest ever recorded in world history. What did I do in preparation for this hurricane you might ask? I went surfing in the morning and caught fun waves. I then came home and started a 10-hour marathon of “Game of Thrones”. I watched the whole first season. In that time I drank three Ballenas and a little mescalito. As I lay down to sleep in my tent, my thoughts were not on the hurricane headed my way, but instead they were swimming with the plots of the Lanasters and the Starks. I think subconsciously I knew the hurricane was coming and I was enjoying the last hours of electricity and cold beer before they would be gone for a long time. It was also good I went surfing cause my favorite spot was about to change drastically.
These are the two dogs I pulled out of the storm and put into my Toyota. Before all that I was sleeping in my tent. I woke up to my tent blowing around wildly. I ignored the problem for a while telling myself the tent was still up and I was still dry. This went on for 20 minutes until I started feeling wet. I turned on my headlamp and saw that there was a small storm going on inside my tent, and it was moving in ways I never thought possible for a tent. I decided that I was going to have to try to move into my truck. I opened a tiny slit in my tent door and stuck my head out. It was an instant sand blast in my face. I crawled the rest of the way out and found my first shoe. It took me about five minutes to find my second shoe all the while getting sand blasted and soaked. I could not see anything through the water, sand and dirt flying around. I grabbed my dog Hunter and carried him to my car. River the male German Sheppard was already outside my tent and I put him in the tent as well. I went and found Ember the female German Sheppard who was leased up and hiding under another car and threw her into my car. I then went back and grabbed all the electronics and brought them to the car. I then crawled in soaking wet with two wet German Sheppards and a wet Chihuahua. I rolled up the windows and fell asleep. The funny thing is I was never worried or was scared the whole time. I knew that everything was going to be fine.
You might ask how did I become responsible for two German Sheppards? Well, I am sup-leasing a place from a Mexican surfer named Carlos who is taking care of the place for an American guy who is not there. The two dogs are the American’s. Three days before the storm hit Carlos tells me he is leaving for a while. He is going to ride a bus 12 hours north with his surf board for a contest in Abre Ojos. He only has enough money for the ticket north and nothing else. He says he has to win the contest so he can get money to head back south. It turns out he got first place in the contest. This is a picture of him the night the storm hit in Cancun. It did not reach Abre Ojos till the next day, and there was only a little wind and rain there. It would be another 12 days until Carlos would make it back to Todos Santos because the roads got washed out.
Upon waking up, this was the first sight I saw after emerging from my car. The trees are bent sideways, frozen as they were during the strongest point in the storm. My rearview mirror is bent sideways covered in storm debris. The roof has blown off the outdoor kitchen and my water jug has blown from inside the kitchen to right in front of my truck. Luckily it was still full of water and not broken
As I get closer I see the chair from the kitchen, and another 5 gallon water bottle. Luckily it was also still full and not broken. Next to that I see my propane refrigerator with the propane tank still attached. The lid was broken off on one side, and all my produce was soaked in green hurricane water. The propane connection was loose from the storm and all the propane leaked out during the night. There was another propane tank attached to the oven. I took that one and hooked it up to the refrigerator and it fired right up.
When I enter the kitchen I see the wind has blown away almost everything that was in there. I see the bottle of mescalito made it. The microwave is gone, but the cord is still plugged in. The refrigerator is on the floor. Luckily I had all my dry food inside the oven to protect it from the dogs.
I spend the rest of the day finding, fixing and cleaning things like this dish-washing rack.
The skate bowl in the back yard has turned into a pool, or more accurately a pond.
All of my gear was blown into one corner of an unfinished cinder block house. Luckily almost everything was still there. It was all pretty wet and dirty, but it was all still there. One of my tent poles broke and all my sleep gear was soaked in green hurricane water, but it all dried out and was able to be fixed. My surfboards spent the night blowing around the room. One got messed up, another is fine, and my red board got one ding in the tail. The board bag is done.
This is the tarp that I put up to cover the windows on my place. It took about an hour to remove this from the barbed wire
10. In the morning I go to use the bathroom, which was full of mud, and I flip the light switch. Ohh? No electricity. I grab for the toilet paper. It is a big wet spit wad. I walk out into the front yard and see why there is no electricity. The hurricane blew down 90 percent of the power lines.
This is a picture from before the storm. You see a happy dog, happy trees, and a full roof on the kitchen. If you look closely you can also see a palapa up on the hill, which is not there anymore.
This is after the storm.
This is the view from on top of the place I am staying before the storm. Notice all the green plants on the right and left side of the photo. Also notice the vine growing on the building in front.
Notice how much thinner the plants are on the left side and how all the trees on the right side are different. Also notice the vine on the building is gone.
This is a photo taken before the storm of the farmland by the place that I am staying. Notice all the green on the pasture in the center of the photo.
The storm blew all of the green away. The crazy thing is that now as I am writing this two weeks after the storm, a lot of those plants have already came back. Threes that had all their leaves blown off have sprouted all new ones. Things that I thought were dead are actually still quite alive.
This is a photo that I took before the storm of my favorite surf spot. It was also the photo taken when I was camping on the beach before the previous storm, Hurricane Norbert I think it was called. It was the storm where a wave came through my campsite in the night and I had to pack up and leave.
This shot was taken after the storm, of my favorite surf spot. All the nice sand has been replaced by Baja moon dust. If you don’t know what Baja moon dust is, it is super fine dust that flies up in the air when you walk or drive through it. You can’t tell from the spot, but there is a whole new beach in front of the old beach. There is about and extra fifty feet of beach now.
This is the reverse shot of the last one. You can really see all the green in the farmland.
This is the after shot. This area got hit the hardest as far as I can tell. I think a lot of the wind focused here. It was also the epicenter of two earthquakes that happened during the storm that were caused by so much wind running into the mountain range.
This is the before shot of an abandoned restaurant on the beach in front of the surf spot. There is a man named Ishmael who lives inside. You have to pay him 30 pesos a night if you want to camp on the beach, and he will watch your car for you. Ishmael was here when the storm hit. The place has no window or doors, and it floods when the waves get really big. It was also the center of the two earthquakes, and it is right next to a giant arroyo. He must have had one crazy night.
This is the after shot. You can kind of tell from this photo how much more sand is on the beach. You can also see, where a bunch of debris from the arroyo washed in.
This is the tree that I camped under during the previous storm when the wave chased me off the beach. In hindsight, I am really lucky that I was not here for this storm. It makes me realize how foolish it was of me to have taken the first storm so lightly. I need to choose my camp spots with more care, and follow the weather more carefully
This shot was taken just a little ways down the beach for the abandoned restaurant. This was the mouth of the arroyo. All this debris is cactus’s and trees that got washed down the arroyo. Someone that built to close to the arroyo lost this Jet Ski. I have to walk through this now when I go surfing.
The same guy who lost the Jet Ski also lost this car, and the front of his house.
So what have I been doing the last two weeks? I have been finding, drying and cleaning all my gear.
I then waterproofed it.
I then sealed it up in a nice tight package.
Under those condiments is a half cooler of Dorado. My neighbor caught a bunch before the storm, and I was the only one with a propane refrigerator to keep it cold. He also gave me a bunch of papaya and mangos that blew out oh his trees. I would have to say that my diet has been better after the storm.
When I got here I thought I found paradise. I was only here for about two weeks before the storm hit. I had found awesome surf, new friends, fast reliable Internet, electricity, a regular bathroom and a nice kitchen for the first time in two months of traveling Baja. I was talking with the neighbor about taking over his farmhouse until December. In exchange I would help him with the work and I would learn how to farm. The storm blew all that away in one night. I can’t complain. I did not loose anything too important, and I am well set up for this disaster. I still have water for showers and cooking. My solar works to keep my laptop running, so I can keep watching Game of Thrones. My cooler still keeps beer and food cold. The one scary thing is there are a lot of people with no money at all, and they are growing more desperate as time goes. A lot of them depend on money from tourists, and there are no tourists, and there probably will not be for some time to come. It is still paradise; just the wind blew all the leaves out of the trees. I see progress every day. People are rebuilding, nature is growing back with much strength, and the people will find a way to survive.
Oh yeah, one final thing. This happened on my way to use the Internet in Todos Santos. I went to check out a surf spot I had never been to before when I drove into Mexican quicksand. It is a layer of hard sand on top of soft wet mud. I did not have a shovel, and I tried to dig out by hand. The mud smelled awful and had a bunch of thorny bushes in it. The sun was so hot and we did not bring any water. Carlos who was with me called his amigo to come help us out. Some electricians who were working on downed power-lines near buy gave us some cable to try and pull out with. We hooked it to Tachos car but it would not budge my car. Tacho proceeded to try the let slack out and get a running start to yank it out method until it broke hi car. He would start his engine, but it would shake a bunch and barely run. Now we have to un-moveable cars because of a careless mistake on my part. He called his mechanic, who came out with his whole family. The brought us ice cold water and soda. The mechanic found out it was something having to do with his fuel line and was able to rig something up, but Tacho was going to need a new part, which would cost about 50 dollars. We then hooked both Tacho and the mechanics truck up to mine. The two of them started pulling and my tires were spinning and after about 10 seconds it yanked me out. It ended up costing me about a hundred dollars to make everyone happy that helped me out. The day was shot, my truck was covered in smelly mud, and I just wanted to go home. It is times like these that I have to be real careful and avoid costly mistakes like this. Hopefully lesson learned.