Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Dark and Stormy Notche

My little street turned into a Venetian canal last night, complete with a current in which swirled sampans of plastic trash bags. The bags floated past my door when I opened it to check on the storm which was brief but bountiful.

In the midst of the drama (Would the water come up my last step and into the house? Will it continue to pour?) the electricity went out. I rousted up candles, stuck them in a decorative minora and read a book on my computer. It was really quite cozy.

At intervels I stuck my head out the door to see who would rescue us if necessary. Several fire trucks drove through the flood, one pulling a rubber dinghy. I knew the policia were just dying to get a chance to use them.

Parked cars looked dangerously close to floating away. I worried about the wild cats who lived underneath them --surely they would have the street cat sense to move to higher ground.

People waded around in the sewage, attempting to unclog street drains. Buenos Aire's garbage problem comes back to bite it in the butt after every good downpour.

Candles and flashlights flickered and flashed from every window as people peered out to watch the show. Would the city bus actually attempt to go through the flood? Yes. Would the electric company send a truck? Yes. Would they fix the problem? No.

My neighbor across the street shouted to me, "Like Venice, only cheaper!"

In the morning the streets of my barrio were strewn with every kind of debris imaginable. It stuck to shrubs, it lay awash on door stoops. The good people of Buenos Aires were busy mucking out their flooded homes and businesses with brooms and floor squegees. I joined in and washed the sewage muck off the sidewalk in front of my house.

The electricity came on later in the day and we all waited to see if the same thing will be repeated tonight as the skys cloud up again.

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