My Experience in a Tropical Storm in the Colombian Coast
The midday heat and humidity stuck to my skin, I could barely move under the scorching sun, and nature was quiet and still. I did not hear the parakeets chattering at 4:30, and the toucans did not come at 5:00; silence became heavy and oppressive. Suddenly, the breeze moved in. A little shy at first, whispering through the palm trees’ leaves and swinging the grasses and the flowers. Then it broke in, ripping leaves off the trees, dragging clothes off the clotheslines, and swirling sand and dirt.
It swept away the dark clouds as it passed, leaving the sky clear, the sunset bright and golden, and the full moon shining through the trees.
I thought the refreshing breeze would announce a calm night, but the wind blew hard from the sea at 9:00, and without any warning, a dense curtain of heavy rain covered the forest. I ran to my cabin and came dripping water as if I had taken a shower; While I was drying my hair and putting on my pajamas, I heard a cat meowing desperately. I tried to locate it with my flashlight, but I only listened to its meows amid the noise of the wind, the constant patter of rain on the dry palm leaves roof, and the waves of the rough sea.
At last, I could see it; it slid down from the ceiling in terror and started walking into my room. My cabin has a colorful six-foot-wide wooden door that faces the sea, it opens in the middle to access the room, but at the same time, it is divided horizontally in the center; if you close the bottom, the top one acts as a window. I have not closed it since I arrived because I love to feel the breeze, hear the waves at night and the birds at dawn. I have always liked having the windows or the curtains open in all the places I have lived. I want to see the stars and the moon from my bed and see the first rays of light announcing the new day. Perhaps it is an extravagant taste because I have not found anyone who likes to sleep like this. I have had to conform, but I do it as close to the outside world as possible if I am sleeping alone.
Today I could have closed the door because of the storm, but I wouldn’t say I like sleeping locked up. The wind blew the mosquito net like a sail on the high seas. The cat was still meowing, and I didn’t know how to calm it down; it was a stray cat; I don’t even know if it had a name. I opened the mosquito net, quickly got into the bed, and closed it; I know it is quite a fragile protection, but I do not want the cat inside my bed. Lightning started to shine and illuminate the cabin’s interior; the noise of thunder was closer and closer, one after another. The storm was so strong that the sound no longer stopped. It was the roar of the water monster, shining and puffing with enormous force. The cabin kept filling with thunder and lightning, the structure was shaking, and the wind brought a salty taste from the sea. As I write, the desperate cat tries to enter my fragile cloth shelter, continues meowing, walks on the bed’s headboard, grabs the cloth with its nails, and falls on my pillow, but fortunately, outside the canopy. The cat calmed down as it fell onto my pillow, and then it began to lick its fur. I did not dare to touch it. It was very upset and showed me its fangs threateningly between its meows. Maybe it didn’t have a problem with me, it was just scared by the storm, and I decided to give it my pillow to keep it quiet.
Before I became a full-time traveler, I had two kittens, Lulú and Oliva; they lived with me for more than ten years, slept with me, and it cost me tears to say goodbye to them when I had to leave my house. But they were my kittens, had names, weren’t aggressive, and didn’t have fleas. Three indispensable conditions to let them enter my bed.
It is almost midnight, and the wind and rain continue to hit hard; sometimes, the lightning moves away and is heard as a murmur, and then, the thunder comes back again and makes the walls vibrate. Some are so strong that the blinding light and the thunder shoot out in unison. The dogs began to cry in fear. I go to the door and adjust the bottom part because sharing the bed with the cat is enough, and I do not want the dogs’ muddy paws inside my sheets. The soft fabric of the mosquito net won’t stop them if they decide to come in. Finally, they settle down by the door. The water continues to fall hard, and the waves crash with the same intensity no more than 60 feet from my cabin. I am protected because it was built on rocks, and the sea is below. I am finally getting sleepy, and I’ll stop writing.
Before 6:00, the first dawn lights enter the room, and I get up to look at the sea; when I open the door, the four dogs rush into my room, their paws are full of mud, and their hair is still wet, so I better invite them for a walk, I think they still resent the stormy night they had, it was the first time the slept by my door.
The ocean is usually turquoise in the morning, and the water is calm, but the storm left branches, leaves, and rivers of mud everywhere, and the water is now rough and dark brown. The vast and strong waves bring the sediment from the rivers and streams and stain the waters almost to the horizon, where I can see a line of blue water.
I am staying inside a tropical dry forest with two seasons every year, rainy and dry. From June to December, the rainy season is when the forest turns green and fills with flowers and vines; in the dry season, the leaves fall, the plants dry out, and the cycle repeats once a year. The rains sustain this vibrant and living ecosystem, and the storms provide the water that allows the forest to stay alive and support the abundant life that inhabits it. Enduring this storm on the seashore allowed me to experience fear, not only my own but also that of the animals around me. It also made me aware of my helplessness and smallness in the face of a gigantic and magnificent phenomenon.