Saturday, November 14, 2009


The terrible rains and flooding of this past weekend have left so many families grieving and homeless, so many communities isolated, so many crops lost. I remember Eleanor Gilmore saying that the last rains of winter, the rainy season, were often the worst, and this was the worst of the worst.

Winter has now given way to summer, the dry season. Skies are blue all day, and it's the coolest time of the year, relatively speaking - nighttime temperatures go down to about 70, and it's about 82 at midafternoon, very pleasant. Families gather on the plaza in the afternoon, and everyone enjoys the evenings. It's usually a time of celebrations and fiestas, but the floods have cast a long shadow over our pleasures.

Pat and I went down the steep street to the lake yesterday and watched the lanchas maneuvering through the thick growth of water hyacinth at the Puerto San Juan, with the boatmen using machetes to cut a way for the boats. At least we think it's water hyacinth, after consulting on-line resources. Here it's known as lechuga, lettuce, or nimfa. This lake, created by a dam on the Rio Lempa in the 1950s, is heavily polluted. We're told not to even think about swimming or eating any fish caught in the lake. So perhaps the water hyacinth, although it's an invasive introduced species, does bring some benefits: it's efficient at taking up heavy metals and other pollutants. No wonder it's doing so well on Lago Suchitlan.

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