Monday, November 24, 2008

Weather article

In case the link doesn't come through, here is the article on our current weather situation.

Caribbean endures another pounding by Mother Nature

By Elyssa Pachico and the A.M. Costa Rica staffThe Caribbean coast is taking it on the chin again with rains and flooding spawned by a cold front. Some 32 communities have been affected, and up to 2,100 persons are in shelters, according to the Cruz Roja,The national emergency commission said that rain had not let up Sunday in the coastal mountains, and rivers in Limón province continued to swell. The agency cited problems with the Barbilla and Chirripó rivers in Matina, the Pacuare and Reventazón in Siquirres, the Parismina in Guacimo, the Sarapiquí and the Sixaola.Isolated communities in the Talamanca are likely to be hard hit, but so far they are cut off from communications. On the coast, the community of Sixaola was awash from the river of the same name.Puerto Viejo de Talamanca suffered damage to a bridge leading to town, and pedestrians were forced to cross part of the way on two wood planks.The problems were not just confined to the Provincia de Limón. Five homes were damaged heavily in San Jerónimo de Moravia in the metropolitan area by a slide. There were slides around Parque Nacional Brauilo Carrillo on route 32, in the Cordillera central, the central mountains. However, passage remained open with some restrictions.Near Guápiles an ambulance with five persons aboard overturned due to the weather and three persons including a child were injured seriously.Driving all over the Caribbean coast and the northern zone was challenging because in addition to the rain and flooded highways, thick fog developed in places.The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias estimated that 1,244 persons were victims of the storm in Talamanca alone. The highway to the border with Panamá was cut in several places, officials reported. In Panamá itself, heavy damage was reported in Bocas de Toro.In Matina, the commission said that at least 400 homes were flooded out.The Cruz Roja had three boats circulating in flooded areas picking stranded individuals form the roofs of homes.Along the coast the sea was raging with waves as much as two meters (more than six feet) above normal. In the Central Valley high winds knocked down trees and power lines.
The emergency commission continued high alerts for the Caribbean and the northern zone.Limón experienced 125 mm (about 5 inches) of rain Saturday with 85 mm (3.3 inches) more Sunday, according to the automatic weather station at the Limón airport maintained by the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional. Reports from Puerto Viejo say that four straight days of rain have overwhelmed the road to Cahuita with landslides, fallen power lines and trees. Additionally, the concrete bridge at the main entrance to Puerto Viejo was jerked askew by flooding. That is where people have been forced to walk over a makeshift bridge consisting of two planks.The emergency commission has been monitoring several at-risk areas in Limón, re-evaluating possible risk of floods every three hours, it said. Two temporary refuges haves been created in Matina for people forced to evacuate their homes, one for 42 people in Hone Creek and another for 96 people from 4 Millas. Another temporary refuge was created in the Escuela Caterina in Sixaola to prepare locals for the possibility of rising waters. Officials hoped that by relocating the population early on, residents will avoid worst case scenarios, such as seeking shelter from rising floodwaters on rooftops, or being forced to call for emergency rescue at night. Some 230 people sought refuge in Hone Creek, with two families consisting of 12 people seeking refuge at the local school, Escuela de Catalina.The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional has said that the rains are likely to continue the rest of this week, even though the cold front that has ravaged eastern Costa Rica is slowly dissipating. Most of the rainy weather has been caused by a low-pressure front stretching from Panama to the Caribbean coast.This weekend alone, winds in San José became as strong as 90 kph (56 mph). Today, winds in San José, the Caribbean region and Guanacaste are expected to be as strong as 30 to 70 kph (18-44 mph).In the Caribbean, winds will continue to be as strong as 30 to 35 kph (18 to 22 mph) with waves as high as two to three meters (from 6.5 to 10 feet). The Pacific will see winds between 50 and 55 kph (31 to 34 mph), with waves as high as 2.3 meters (7.5 feet). Neither ocean is suitable for sailing this week, said the Comisión de Emergencias.The real extent of the damage will not be known for several weeks. In addition to flooded homes, damaged roads and bridges and washouts, agriculture and tourism have taken big hits.


Well, we're the closest we've been to being in the middle of a third world disaster since we moved down here. The weather is totally crazy and everything we own is wet and moldy. It started raining last Tuesday and hasn't stopped yet ( Today was day number seven and we are supposed to be getting hit by another system starting tomorrow. Normally, this is fairly normal for this time of year but the duration and the extent of the rainfal are not normal. One of the bridges leading out of Puerto Viejo washed out and we are now effectively cut off from the rest of the country unless walking is an option. The roads are also out between Puerto and Limon and again between Limon and San Jose and we almost lost the bridge that links our neighborhood to the rest of the area. We don't have any idea how long it may take to get everything reconnected and reconstructed but it won't be tomorrow. We need to make sure we have cash on hand and we need to stock up on groceries as well. It could be a while before we get anything more than staples. We'll see (not to set off the alarm too early).

As for our house, we have lost over a week of construction and the house we are renting is soaked. Rain has been blowing in from every direction for a week now. We have put up a couple of tarps to keep it out and it is helping a bit but it isn't a perfect system. Maili is sleeping on the futon on our deck as it is slightly more dry than her room. Makena's room is the driest in the house so she is fine. Many people have been flooded out of their homes and are in worse situations than we are. A little mold and mildew aren't too bad when you consider what some families are putting up with. Please pray for everyone down here. We are not in any danger, but we could sure use a few dry days. We could also run into some food and fuel shortages very soon. This is definitely the worst weather we have experienced in our time here and we are ready for it to end. Also, please forgive us if it takes some extra time to return emails. We have also been without internet access for the past week. We'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


We've had an interesting couple of days here... Last night, there was a 6.2 earthquake across the border in Panama. We were woken up just after midnight last night with the entire house rolling and shaking. As groggy as I was, it was a surreal experience. Maili (if she had been awake) would have felt like she was in the crow's nest of a sailing ship. Her bedroom is in the very top of the house, about 20 feet off the ground, level with the canopies of the surrounding trees. This was the first real earthquake we have experienced here and it was something else. Back in 1992, a huge quake hit the area cutting Puerto Viejo off from the nearest city (Limon) for around two months. Food, etc... had to be brought in by boat. When I think about these kinds of things, I realize that we're only a step away from being in the middle of a third world disaster. That's when I have to remember that we are in God's hands. Definitely exciting.

It rained hard all night and has been raining non-stop today. The rivers and creeks are full and we have a small river running across the yard of our house. Now that we are living back in the hills, transportation is an issue and we have been without our quad for three weeks now which has made life a little more challenging. Getting Makena to school, taking care of other errands and simply getting back and forth from the skatepark come with a whole new level of difficulty. I can't wait to get the quad back because biking to work several miles in heavy rain on a single speed bicycle, up and down hills, is not the easiest thing in the world. It's not the worst either, but I'll be glad to have my transport back. Life here in the jungle comes with a whole new set of challenges and some days simply consist of taking care of things just so that we can continue to be here.

Later this afternoon I'll be opening the skate park if the rain lets up a little. The entire park is covered but when a big storm like this blows in, the rain gets on everything and skating can get a little dangerous. We'll see how it goes but I'm not holding out too much hope since squalls keep blowing through. The rain is also putting a damper on the house construction. They are a little behind on getting the roof finished and can't really work up that high when things are so wet. Hopefully, they will get it done during the next dry spell and then can work every day un-impeded by the wetness. They're supposed to be done by the middle of next month and we're wondering how they'll make it. Another day in our lives... At least I didn't get peed on by the bat again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Ever been woken up in the middle of the night because a bat peed on you? If not, well I've got one up on you. A few weeks back, we heard our nightly visitor fly into our bedroom. All of a sudden, I felt a spray of liquid on my legs. I told Amy, "I think that bat just peed on me." She wasn't impressed and immediately went back to sleep. I thought about it for a few minutes and decided there was no alternative but to roll over and go back to sleep as well. What are you going to do at 2:00 in the morning? Just another one of the unique experiences we've had here in the jungle.

I'm in San Jose right now. I met with the builder this morning to purchase such necessary items as toilets, sinks, door knobs, etc... for the house. We are getting closer and should have the roof in place by the end of next week. He tells me that we're only a month away from being done and although they are working fast, I have a hard time believing it. We'll see. We're hoping to be in by Christmas. Also, our water problems may be solved soon. Rather than trying to come up with another $10,000 dollars to drill a deep well to the aquifer, we are going green. We have decided to begin harvesting our rain-water by installing a system of large storage tanks and a filtration system. With Whit's help, I calculated that we can capture enough water from our roof alone to satisfy the majority of our needs for the year. We'll still have to watch it during the dry periods but with our surface well for back-up, we should be in pretty good shape. Just don't plan to visit us in September or October or you may find out what it means to "fetch the water".

Here's a recent picture of the house.

It is amazing to me sometimes how much time and energy you can expend here just trying to live. Some times we spend a good part of our week just taking care of things that enable us to continue with life. Add to that the homeschooling, ministry and construction and life is full.

Speaking of "ministry"... everyone seems to be enjoying Romans. What a great letter. We are well into chapter 2 right now and will continue on next week. Since I am stuck in San Jose right now, Amy, a very brave, talented and flexible woman, is leading house church. She is leading a discussion and prayer evening which should be a great time for everyone. We lost a few people earlier in the year as they made decisions which took them out of fellowship. It was pretty discouraging but as we've been faithful to keep meeting, teaching and caring for each other, the group that remained has gone deeper. Several that were coming previously have even returned. That has been encouraging. A typical "service" looks like this. Most everyone begins showing up between 5 and 6pm. We share a meal each week and many times the guys bring lobster and fish that they have caught right offshore on the local reefs. We start cleaning and cooking and end up eating between 6:30 and 7:00. Then, we fill up our coffee mugs and open the study in prayer and worship. After 5-6 songs, we begin the bible study and end with discussion and prayer. Afterwards, everyone pitches in to clean up and hang out a little more. What I love about this is that it is so all-encompassing. It isn't just showing up for an hour and then rushing off to the next thing...our service lasts for 3-4 hours. People are really connecting and are enjoying spending time together. It makes me think that this must be similar to what it was like in the early church. A cool thing to think about as we work our way through Romans.