February 17, 2011

A Hundred Year Event.

It was a big one alright, some say it only happens every 100 years. Perhaps that is just an expression, or perhaps those folks are just alarmist by nature. But either way, there is no denying the severity and magnitude of the recent storm that passed through Dar.

I spent the better part of this week seeking refuge anywhere with electricity, as ours had been out for days on end without any indication of when we could expect it back. While mooching power for my computer and phone at our new favorite hangout, the atmosphere suddenly grew ominous. The sky darkened, the wind picked up, and huge rain drops began to fall with a deafening clatter on the rooftop. And eventually the power went out. Now even my go to electricity refuge had failed me. With approximately 2.5 hours of power left on my lap top, I decided to wait out the storm, in fact, it was kind of nice in an oddly romantic sort of way. Neighboring chatter about "adopting" babies out of rural Tanzanian villages (read: kidnapping them without proper paperwork) eventually prompted me to make a break for it. As I drove home the leading thought on my mind was where and how I would continue work without a reliable power source.

I returned home and it appeared as though our house had been looted by a band of pirates. Branches were down everywhere. Huge trees had fallen. Our gate lighting was knocked down and there was broken glass everywhere. Our guard/gardener greeted me at the door, obviously very energized by this rare storm, I, in turn, joked saying, "this will be a big job for you to clean up." He grinned and hopped to it, despite my rather flippant statement of the obvious.

Frankly, I did not give the storm a second thought, until I joined some friends for dinner last night and our conversation turned to the storm. Apparently, one of the largest boats at the yacht club became unmoored during the storm and crashed into three other boats, causing damage of untold proportions, the repair costs alone would surely surpass our combined income last year.

Then someone mentioned the fishermen. The very fishermen I recently blogged about. It is beyond doubt that many of them died in this storm, between huge swells overturning their tiny boats (if you can even call them that) and winds and rip tides pushing them far beyond paddling reach of Dar's shorelines. The storm came out of the blue, its not like any forward thinking fisherman could have known this or even planned their work day around it. So here again, a reality check that these guys literally risk life and limb braving the Indian Ocean waters to fetch about $3/day. And here I was worried about a power connection for my MacBook lap top.

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