There had been reports in Cabo San Lucas, on the Western peninsula of Mexico, that a hurricane known as ‘Odile’ was approaching. On a Sunday morning, having had three days of beautiful weather and relaxation, we awoke to an unusual sight from the balcony window – there was no ‘loose’ item in view. Every sunlounger, table and umbrella had been taken away. The storm was coming, at this time category 3, and strong winds were expected.
However, given recent reports that the hurricane would pass by at a distance, the effect anticipated was one of inconvenience and light damage. The sky looked cloudy, but not unusually so (to a British man…) and the sea, whilst whipped into a foam of waves and surge, was not threatening to breach further inland. The morning passed without incident.
It was around 1pm, sat in the garden area of the local spa, that the World began to change. One drop of rain was followed by three, and then without a seconds warning a tumult of water began to pour from an instantly blackened sky. The wind, previously no more than a breeze, rapidly gained tempo and within seconds chaos ensued. Such was the power of the storm that the rain was not actually able to hit the ground, but rather was whipped vertically back up into the air by the wind, thrown horizontally and swirled like a vortex. Within two minutes of the rain and the wind, all power went down and we were plunged into an unseasonal darkness. It was time to flee.
Taking shelter in a large auditorium only provided temporary reprieve – the ceiling began to collapse piece by piece as the winds began to reach their 135mph, now category 4, speed. Water began to pour with a disconcerting consistency through the now exposed holes in the roof, and with that we fled down into the staff kitchens below the resort. It was here that, with the howling sounds of destruction all around us, we waited out the storm, water dripping through the floors of the rooms above into the underground staff complex below. People were panicked, people were scared, and perhaps most terrifyingly people had no control over what was happening anymore.
Emerging 24 hours later was akin to the opening scenes of the movie ‘28 Days Later’ – an eerie stillness and quiet belied the sight of roof tiles strewn across the ground, uprooted trees, broken windows and scattered possessions. The Sea of Cortez, well known for its clarity by scuba divers, was entirely brown to the horizon. There was no power, no communications, no roads to transport supplies or messages. After five days of sitting and waiting, the Mexican military began to evacuate individuals to anywhere they could possibly find them space, looting and rioting inevitably following the storm with food and water in short supply. Fires burned in previously populated areas. Life will return to normal in Cabo, but not for many months, possibly years.
Travellers see many incredible sights, and often find themselves awestruck at what nature has crafted. Let us not forget, however, that nature’s palate often includes the deep red colour of raw power and destruction, and She is still perfectly capable of using it.