Flooding in San Miguel

Originally uploaded by Pat and Amy’s pics

We’ve experienced incredibly good weather in San Miguel, but the last few days were an exception. Four nights ago it started raining so hard and so suddenly that Amy thought someone was moving heavy furniture upstairs. The rain hasn’t been quite that heavy since, but it’s been steady, and the rainfall statistics are kind of amazing. There have been reports of 3.4 inches of rain in one location, and even 8.5 inches of rain in a different neighborhood, in just the last few days. The huge variations, according to one source, are due to the location of San Miguel near some mountains and hills, which creates some unique and sometimes unpredictable weather patterns, but the whole area is getting drenched. This amount of rain is all the more remarkable when you consider that the average rainfall in San Miguel de Allende for January is .38 inches, February is .18 inches, and the annual precipitation is 21.4 inches. These statistics are taken from a variety of sources, and they may not all be completely accurate, but this gives a sense of how odd this rainfall is. People who have lived here for many years say this is more rain than they’ve ever seen, even during the rainy season.

The rainy season comes during summer here, so for this time of year, even a couple of days of rain is said to be unusual. It’s nearly impossible to stay dry right now, at least for anyone like us without a car. A couple of days ago we went out for lunch and while our Columbia jackets kept our top halves dry, our pants were soaked by the time we got back. It’s bad enough to have the rain fall directly on us, but there are no downspouts in San Miguel so all the water is shunted away from the roofs of the buildings by these pipes that stick out about two feet from the walls. If it’s a strong rain, the water shoots out into the street, but anything less and the water just drops right into the middle of the narrow sidewalk. There is about one spout every ten feet, so you can imagine how hard it is to avoid getting dripped on even when on the sidewalk. Also, almost all of San Miguel has cobblestone streets and stone sidewalks, and some of it becomes very slick when it’s wet. Without a car, and with these horrible conditions, we’ve had to stay indoors almost all day, every day.

So this bad weather had made us feel pretty sorry for ourselves, trapped here, out of the rain and wind, with a heater blowing nice hot air on us, because the rain made it difficult for us to get out and enjoy the restaurants or go to a drawing session. Then we went to breakfast with a few people this morning, and we heard about what the poor people out in the rancho (or small community) of San Miguel Viejo are dealing with. If they’re lucky, they have the most basic of housing; we know of one family with six children that had nothing until some people towed an old van out to give the family at least some shelter a couple of weeks ago. The floors in most of the houses are dirt, so in this weather, they become mud, and because many of the villagers heat their homes just by starting a fire on the floor, they can’t even do that in these conditions. If they’re fortunate enough, they may have a stove, but even if they do most people still can’t start a fire because they gather wood in the area and it’s all completely saturated. The few clothes they own are now soaked, and they have no way to dry them without a stove, nor can they cook.

So, if you have a home, or heat, or dry clothes, or something to eat, be thankful for what you have. I read a letter in an advice column a few weeks ago. In it, the writer explained that when she had something unpleasant that she HAD to do, she would try to change her thinking. She would tell herself, “I GET to clean the toilet, because I have plumbing, and running water. I GET to wash the dishes, because I have food to eat.” Reminding herself of what she had made the chores a bit easier to get through. It’s not a bad approach to looking at things.