Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes...sniff sniff.

It happens every year here. Those who farm for a living know only one way to clear the land and that's to burn out the old growth and then plant. Under better conditions, that might work. I'm sure there's some benefits in the ash that remains, perhaps enriching the soil. doesn't work when there is a drought going on and there isn't a Plan B to keep the burn under control. Last Friday, there were 3 such burns close together and all 3 quickly because uncontrollable. I looked out my window and thought the entire north side of town was burning! To give you an idea of what it looked like, I have before and after shots.

Here's a picture I took some time ago on a clear day...really picturesque with the houses (such as they are) covering the sides of the hill. We really have the best view of the entire building! On nice clear days you can see forever.

But when a fire occus, it's not as nice and clear as this. During the burning season, there is usually some smoke in the air but never as bad as the photo on the below. There's a bonus in the second picture. About an hour before we noticed the smoke in the air, the yellow bus in the picture was driving down the street and his brakes failed. He saw the baracade by the building below and decided it would be better to hit that than to crash into the car in front of him. I'm not sure just how fast he was going because the traffic on La Paz is pretty steady. I doubt he was going more than 20-25 miles an hour. Good for the passengers on the bus and good for the small baracade! Fortunately, there were no in injuries. Unfortunately, it wasn't that way where one of the fires was burning. It was on the top of one of the many peaks that surround the city and there is a ginormous statue of Christ. In the nearby vicinity is a small zoo or animal reserve of some kind. Some of the animals died in the fire. I doubt it will send the message that it should...stop burning the fields...on a windy day...with no Plan B!

The air cleared up fairly well by the next day but there were still bits of charred 'stuff' raining down, probably corn stalks. It better rain soon...we're running out of water! Fortunately, my cistern (the water storage for water used in my home) is huge and I haven't run out of water but others are. The trucks that the embassy sends out can only service 4 houses a day, since they have to go and fill up and then go to the house and wait as it fills the cistern. That takes time...lots of time. The advice being handed out...check your cistern every day and call when it gets low, not when it's empty!!


Bfiles said...

Oh, how sad. Is Peace Corps in Honduras? That's one of the things they work on- teaching farmers tactics other than slash and burn.
The water situation is worrisome, I'm sure if you are a little concerned the Hondurans are really suffering. How I wish I could send you some of our NYC rain! We've had 3 huge storms in 3 weeks and the ground is saturated. take care.

Debi said...

Peace Corps is here in Honduras and doing wonderful things! It's hard to change what people have been doing for years...also hard to get the word out when most have no TV or radio. And please...send on the rain!

Laurie said...

Loved the post, and more than that... I loved the showers we are receving now. There are puddles in the street below me. Happy Easter!

Darcie said...

Blog surfing and found yours. Am anxious to spend more time reading about your adventures!

About the burn-they actually do some of that here in Colorado too. Burn off stubble from last year, burn CRP land, etc. Just last week, we had a beautiful day, I left windows open, and came home to a smoke filled house. And yes, these "controlled" burns sometimes requires our rural fire department's assistance. (plan B)

Debi said...

Laurie, it's almost the rainy season here...we can't wait! Darcie, at least you have firemen and WATER to fight an out of control fire. Here, both of those things are sadly missing.