Mere Mortals

2011 November 2011 Suzanne A. Marshall

By Suzanne A. Marshall from the November 2011 Edition

Several days ago I was preparing to write this next article and anticipating Freda’s (our illustrious editor) reminder via email. I have a number of lovely stories still to share about living in Manzanillo. But when Freda’s email arrived titled

‘heads up’ these stories seemed so trivial when I learned that Hurricane Jova was bearing down on Manzanillo and ‘my second home’ was potentially under threat by the forces of nature. It reminded me of only one other time when I had felt so oddly displaced in the world having watched my TV all morning as the attacks of 9/11 on the World Trade Centre took place and then I had to force myself to go to work and try to continue my regular day. It didn’t feel right and I knew for me and so many others that the world had been altered somehow, forever.

The planet has become so much smaller. It’s no longer the big mystery of youth when a person, especially of my vintage, would fantasize about far off exotic places and read stories of life in far-away countries. Now one can view the world on the internet, ‘Google’ countries and maps and be aware of almost everything going on in the world through satellite communications and state-of-the- art technologies. Although something as distant and dangerous as a category 3 hurricane can be seen, you still feel helpless and anxious, left only to watch, wait and pray. And of course it is so much more personal when you actually have a home there that you enjoy for half of each year.

Eyes glued to internet links displaying weather reports, storm tracking models, regular updates and public announcements soon become my constant preoccupation as I check in every few hours to read the latest updates. Where will it hit land? How strong will it be? Where will the locals go for safety? How will the condo staff and their families cope with this very unusual event? What will happen to our home there? Storms at sea in the Pacific are nothing new as we have observed before, rambunctious surfs coming in to alter the vista of eight miles of smooth beach into giant dunes and cliff-like formations only to be smoothed out again over time by the persistent tides. But never in recent memory has a hurricane actually hit land from the Pacific in this area. I have an almost guilty feeling about being safe so far away from this storm.

But are we really safe anywhere? Maybe we are or maybe not? One really never knows for sure and given the theory that “the only constant is change”, it is impossible to know. Presumably it’s all about the odds. Having been born and raised in Canada I’ve thought it to be one of the safer places in the world, but who knows what fate awaits us on a certain day at a certain time in a certain place.

Twenty four years ago my home city of one million people was hit by a category 4 tornado, turning oil refineries upside down, ravaging homes and landscapes and killing 27 people.

In eastern Canada ice-storms have stranded people in homes and offices for days and even weeks without power and heat; record breaking snowfall and freezing temperatures hit with full force last winter (while we thankfully enjoyed Manzanillo); and years of drought and unusual summer heat have ravaged forests with uncontrollable fires and burned small cities and villages to the ground. Then we can move round the world to Japan, the Philippines, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and understand there is so little about the nature of the earth and the universe we live in that we can control.

So now of course, having reinforced this philosophy it does give renewed value to the idea that the life we have is very precious. We can choose to live in the moment, be thankful for good fortunes, love our families and our neighbours and be aware as mere mortals that being here is a gift not to be squandered.

And at this moment I wait for news about the outcomes of Hurricane Jova. News and ‘Youtube’ videos are hitting the internet quickly now. The power outages are massive and I have not heard back from Freda as yet. I watch and hope that all is well with our friends and neighbours whom we will happily join again for the winter very soon.


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