Friday, March 21, 2008

And we thought CHICAGO was the Windy City...

It's a good thing we took all those nice photos of the city on Sunday, because right now it looks completely different. Monterrey got slammed with a surprise windstorm on Tuesday. No rain, hail, or precipitation. Just 75 mph winds and so much dust that the city's air-pollution detectors hit 10 times the danger level before they finally clogged and shut down. The city maintains its claim that there was no indication this was about to happen, so people like me and Carlos just went about our normal lives (or "Spring Break") until it became clear we were in the middle of some near-apocalypse.

The power got knocked out to nearly the entire city around 10 am. Then the cell towers went down, too. Carlos and I decided to go to the local shopping center (it's like a half-mile away and approximately 10 weeks old) to pick up some essential groceries. That's when we realized it was probably not the smartest move, as the outer perimeter of the mall had already sustained tons of damage, like blown-out windows, caved-in walls, fallen signs, etc. But, this is Mexico. Money is to be made at any opportunity and any cost, so the interior of the mall was still open and running on backup power.

We got our groceries and went home to discover that there ARE things to do in the absence of electricity, such as discuss the effects of pre-Conquest indigenous society on modern-day Mexican culture, outline useful rules for countable/uncountable nouns in English, and talk about why "Joey" was never a successful spin-off from "Friends". By the time night fell, we still had no electricity, no cell phone service, and fortunately we'd had the presence of mind to fill buckets with water earlier, because the taps were running dry, too. After an adventure in cooking by the light of a Pope John Paul II vigil candle, we were confident the wind had died down, and hopeful that our utilities would be back by morning.

When we woke up, we were just as utility-less as the day before, so we took the bus downtown to the central bus station, during which time we saw just how powerful the storm had been. Carlos has to find a new gas station, because the nearest one is currently squashed underneath its heavy roof, which evidently collapsed during the storm. Power was out at the central bus station, but we managed to get on a bus to the nearby border city of Laredo, Texas / Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. We did some shopping, and I briefly crossed the border to check out the other side. This was my very first encounter with the border, and I did not care for it. It's depressing to actually see and cross the line that has the potential to keep me and Carlos apart. Laredo, Texas itself is a strange place - I never once even spoke English there.

When we returned to Monterrey, electricity was still not working in much of the city, but fortunately it had reached our sector, and we were finally able to return to regular life.

All this to say, we're still doing fine here! Good luck to all the Midwesterners dealing with snowstorms (again).

Below, a video of the destruction. We had no idea.


Anonymous said...

I was in Monterrey on business and caught in the storm. We went out and drove around the north end of the city and the damage was significant. The video shows only a portion. Power was out for two days.

Nancy said...

Scary and yet, now Im questioning why I didnt hear this on news, or international news. How am I possed to know whats going on in the world!

Bridget said...

Wow is that fairly common? I remember dealing with dust storms (or tornadoes) in Chihuahua but it wasn't anything you described. BTW, can you repost your comment on my blog? I had to delete the post and re-post it again. Crazy but I think I'm getting the hand of it!

Bridget said...

The "hang" of it... where's the darn edit button!

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