Of Hurricanes and Puppy Dog Tales

Fuck!

Oh Hell No! No f’ing way. I can’t. I won’t. I do not want to. I’m not equipped. It is not my responsibility. You can’t make me! I am a one dog woman and I already have two dogs. I need another puppy like I need a third breast, utterly useless.

The night before I was scheduled to move into my Todos Santos home, Luna and I snuck up to enjoy the sunset from what was going to be our terrace. As we were enjoying the view and a cool breeze, four small puppies trotted across the street and down our driveway. I took it as a sign that this was were I was supposed to be. My mom told me I was going to turn into one of those crazy dog ladies.

After I moved in, the puppies became regular visitors. The alpha male, a beautiful chocolate boy with gorgeous green eyes disappeared. I learned later that my gardener adopted him, but neglected to tell the owners. It took two weeks before the little black and tan runt of the litter would let me pet her. As the other two were getting fat and sassy, she was wasting away. Finally, I snuck up, grabbed her, and brought her to my place to fatten her up. My neighbors didn’t want the females because they make puppies (never mind the people who patrol the neighborhoods, pick up dogs, take them to be fixed, then return with the fixed dogs and a bag of food). After another couple weeks, I couldn’t bear to watch how poorly my neighbors were treating all three dogs, especially the runt La Peqeuña Luna Catalina Moon. I vowed to find her a new home and took her away for good.

Of course, these little stinkers worm their way into your heart, and before I know it I am buying her a leash and collar of her very own.

  

  

The morning Hurricane Blanca was scheduled to hit, I was walking my dogs on the hill behind the house. We went to the fancy outdoor restaurant, El Mirador, which was battened down against the pending storm. The view from the restaurant is amazing. From around the corner a puppy, smaller than my foot, came waddling towards us. She looked hungry, fragile, and so alone. When dogs see me and Luna coming, they see two things. They see a completely in charge, alpha bitch mamacita dog, and they see a lollipop ~ a complete sucker, with two hands and a bleeding heart.

No! I cannot rescue another stray! She followed us for almost two miles, struggling to keep up on her four-inch puppy legs. Pequeña harassed her the entire way, like a bitch doing a cock-block. I could not bear it. When I entered townand put my girls on leash, I picked up the stray and carried her home. The wind was picking up, the skies were darkening, and the clouds were becoming thicker, blacker, and more ominous. I could not leave this little creature out in the elements with a hurricane fast approaching.

  

Having lived most of my adult life in San Francisco, the only natural disaster I have experience with is earthquakes. Earthquakes come without warning, last only moments, and either you are lucky or you aren’t. Most of the time they are just exciting reminders that you live in earthquake country, a little thrill. I have really good earthquake juju. I had moved to Los Angeles shortly before the Loma Prieta ‘quake in San Francisco. I watched it unfold on a television in Santa Monica dive bar. When the Los Angeles/Northridge ‘quake struck, I was happily back in San Francisco. The worst luck I had was climbing out of bed to go pee at the precise moment the Napa ‘quake hit. I was thrown off balance and fell over, bonking my head on my bedside table as I fell.

Hurricanes are a different beast altogether. If a Baja Insider hurricane update popped up on my facebook feed I would read it, but I wasn’t paying much attention. It wasn’t until the maintenance man from the property management company came up to help me prepare for the hurricane that I realized that this might be serious. Hurricane Odile hit Todos Santos hard last September, so this time people were diligent in their preparations. Saturday people were out boarding up windows, putting away outdoor furniture, tying down what could not be put inside, and securing doorways with sandbags.

After the visit, I began to obsessively track the path of Hurricane Blanca. On Friday, it looked like it was petering out and wouldn’t be a threat, it was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane. By Saturday morning it was back up to Category 4 (of a maximum 5) and was bearing down on Cabo San Lucas and the Pacific Coast. Todos Santos is only 40 miles north of Cabo. I had plenty of food and water. I gassed up mi Casita and parked her above the trees, everything was put away, but I really had no idea what to expect. By the time Sunday rolled around, Blanca had weakened considerably, but the clouds were getting thicker, the wind stronger, and the time between rain flurries was diminishing.

Around the time the sun was setting, the wind began howling in earnest. Palm fronds are flying, garbage swirling, abandoned plastic chairs bumped down the street, plywood was ripped off and tossed like cardboard, and dust blew through the cracks, accumulating in drifts on the floor and covering every surface. Next came the rain, pissing down in sideways sheets, pounding on the windows, following the dust inside and creating sheets of mud across the floor.

  

The four of us were huddled on the bed. Normally, Luna would be snuggled against me, bringing both of us comfort, but that spot was occupied by two very young, very scared puppies, puppies who quite literally had the shit scared out of them. When I tried to take the dogs out for a nature break, I wasn’t able to push the door open against the wind. I got up once to pour myself what I hoped would be a comforting shot of rum, and found the kitchen overrun with cockroaches, the two-in long, winged variety. When I went to the bathroom I was greeted by a spider the size of my palm, carrying a squished marshmallow-sized clutch of babies on her belly. I tried to gather her up in a plastic bag to put her out, but she disappeared without a trace, reappearing on the wall of my bedroom a short while later. The wind and the rain were intensifying, the stench of nervous dog was pervasive, even I was starting to get nervous when, Pop! The electricity blew! It was just before 1:00 a.m. and now I was completely alone. The internet was blown as well. I didn’t even have my friends to virtually keep my mind occupied. This brave, fearless woman nearly lost it. I was praying that at some point I could fall asleep and wake up on the other side of the storm. Finally, I did.

We were very lucky. The hurricane had lost much of its intensity. By the time it arrived it was 45 miles offshore and had been downgraded to a tropical storm. The damage was minimal, the election had proceeded as scheduled, the region received some much-needed rain. Life, for the most part, was back to normal the following day. I was one of the unlucky ones who lost my power. Along with the power, the internet died. Even worse was the water situation. There was plenty of water, stored in big tanks on the property, but the water is pump-fed, and without electricity, there is no running water. The other casualty was the fan. Nights without a fan are hot and buggy here in the desert.

I was without power for three days, mainly due to the ineptitude of the both the American landlord and property manager. They soon learned that you don’t mess around with Sheila Moon.

I finally have my power restored.

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