When I first came to Mexico almost five years ago, people cautioned me against sleeping in the nude and told me to keep a bag packed by my bed at night, just in case. I had forgotten all about that warning until just after six this morning when I found myself out on the street clad only in a beach cover-up and crocs, with my cell phone and keys in my pocket. Yes, the beach cover-up was the first thing I grabbed when I heard my housemate thunder down the stairs screaming that he smelled gas and that we had to get out of our house.
A loud crash had awakened my other housemates, although I had slept through it. Apparently a driver had lost control of his vehicle before crashing into this house.
The sleepy occupants climbed over the wall to get out into the street. Meanwhile the truck spun around and continued down the street where it sheared off our water meter, struck the main gas line and then came to a stop on top of a hydro pole. The driver sat bleeding on the sidewalk until an ambulance showed up twenty-five minutes later. Rumor has it that the man has since died.
The above photos were taken later in the morning when it was light out.
Back to 6 am now. I sat there on the curb with my neighbor Carlos and his two dogs. I thought of my laptop, my life, back in my room. I thought of all my identification and my bank cards left behind. And I tried not to think of the worst case scenario in which everything would be blown to bits by that gas leak. So many items that would be extremely difficult if not impossible to replace. And I silently vowed that I would have a backpack with these items by my bed at night from now on.
I’m a people watcher by nature. I noticed that residents were quite animated and more concerned with their homes being looted by the police than they were with their homes being blown to bits by a gas explosion. And in our haste to flee we had left our doors open! Fortunately for us there were some honest police near our house. One even went back to lock our door.
The street was like a war zone — a blur of flashing lights, debris everywhere, downed power lines, water in the streets, the putrid odor of gas.
Later in the morning, I snapped more photos of the devastation. In the following photo you can see some of the downed power lines requiring repair.
In the photo above you can see the damage to our house where the car hit and sheared off the water meter.
Late in the afternoon, the gas, water and electricity were restored. So apparently things can get done efficiently and quickly here in Mexico, although it is a rarity.
There just never is a dull moment on Calle Zalatitan!