Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Slice of Life: Rain

Old Man Winter is cracking his icy knuckles in preparation for another week of cold and rain here in Santiago, or so the weatherman claims! Rain is both a blessing and curse in this city. It is much needed due to the lung-clogging air pollution, but it creates havoc for the millions of Santiaguinos who use public transportation day to day and who are forced to wait in the pouring rain for their bus or taxi to arrive.

For as long as I can remember, Santiago has been a city that floods when the rain comes. Certain roads become nearly impassable as water levels rise. Many times the rain lasts for days on end. I remember years ago when some MK brothers literally took a raft onto their street and had a blast floating up and down it!

A couple of weeks ago, we had our first extended rain and it caused a number of problems throughout Chile. Small towns in the south were flooded and a major bridge connecting north and south crumbled, stranding travelers and creating a traffic gridlock for miles on end. Here in Santiago, the river Mapocho overflowed and somehow this caused the clean drinking water supply to become polluted. The water company began to shut off water in each part of the city, sometimes with little to no warning. We received word a few hours in advance and proceeded to quickly take showers and fill the bathtubs with water for washing hands and flushing toilets until the next day when the water returned. What an adventure!

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