FINCA TATIN, jungle, Guatemala- There was no sign of a tropical storm, no indication of mudslides, nothing to make me think that rivers had overflowed or that people had died, no way that I could tell that the county which I woke up in was besieged by natural disaster the night before.
I am in the eastern jungle of Guatemala, tropical storm Agatha tore through inland Central America but the Caribbean coast is sunny and dry.
I awoke this morning — Sunday, May 31, 2010 — to the sun shining through the screen windows in my bungalow. I stepped outside and the rays of light cut through the jungle canopy far brighter than I had seen on my previous three days here in the eastern jungles of Guatemala. I walked down to the dock by the river, I heard the daughter of the finca owner exclaim that she was going sun bathing, that this day was the sunniest that it had been since she got here two weeks ago.
It was a beautiful day. I went swimming.
Map of Tropical Storm Agatha
It was not until the boat came in from Livingston at midday that we learned of the destruction that took place outside of our jungle hideaway.
Flooding and landslides from the season’s first tropical storm have killed at least 150 people and made thousands homeless in Central America, officials said.
Dozens of people were missing and emergency crews struggled to reach isolated communities cut off by washed-out roads and collapsed bridges caused by Tropical Storm Agatha.
The sun emerged Monday in hardest-hit Guatemala, where officials reported 123 dead and at least 90 missing. In the department of Chimaltenango — a province west of Guatemala City . . . -Tropical Storm Agatha in Guatemala
More than 150 people were killed, entire villages wiped out, roads washed away, but the sun shown overhead in the jungle, and for the first day in a long time it did not rain.
Though I have been told that just to the west of here — not even 100 miles away — the Rio Montagua has overflowed its bank, destroyed homes, and left a region in shambles. The road that goes to Guatemala City is impassable, it has been flooded — nobody can get from here to there, or from there to here. Here in the jungle, we have been cut off from the rest of Guatemala more than we even are normally.
But the sun is shining, and there has not been a drop of rain all day long. Though the interior of Guatemala, not far at all from here, has experienced a much different bought of weather.
Tropical Storm Agatha hit hard, departed, and left a country to rebuild and repair.
Update — June 1st, 2010
The road from Guatemala City to the eastern coast is now open. Travelers can now make it to and from the Rio Dulce, Puerto Barrios region from the capital.