The past days enormous waves have been lashing the Pacific, from Mexico to Chile, product of yearly storms. This year, though, the storm was stronger than ever, hitting the coasts of El Salvador with fury.
We knew about the situation as we headed towards “our beach” last Sunday, but were still taken by surprise when we got to La Cangrejera, a long and wide beach since it connects with an estuary. We are used to the beach changing from season to season, week to week, even during a day – but we had never seen almost the whole beach, except for some sand-dunes, under water.
We carefully approached the shore although we saw that the waves were getting higher and higher with the tide rising. And they were tremendous!
It was difficult to take pictures, though, because we were looking out for the dogs. And Molly did get swept along by a wave. In a question of seconds she was taken some 60 metres towards shore, into the estuary, but managed to climb up on a sand-dune, somewhat shocked. As were we.
This would be no fun: no diving in the waves or bird-chasing, so we decided to go to La Muelle de la Libertad to pick up a fish in instead. Also expecting a sight in La Libertad, what met us was quite overwhelming! Meter-high waves – according to the media 4 metres high – were lashing the Muelle, the pier which functions as a fish-market which luckily had been evacuated. No fish, for sure!
A little recklessly we (not with the dogs, they were in safety in the car!) still approached the yellow ribbons that separated us from the evacuated area, along with other curious, only to be attacked by a wave, which plunged us together with others, all of us getting soaked.
Minute by minute the waves got bigger, closer and people were now desperately saving what could still be saved, going past the yellow ribbon. The last boats were pulled further away from the waves, people ran for furniture and a young boy, between two waves, jumped for a sauce-pan. Police and military were, in my opinion, a bit too relaxed. They should have evacuated the whole Malecon-area. Which they possibly did afterwards.
At this point we decided to leave the scene, before it got worse – we were still 1,5 hours away from the peak of the tide. I got some impressing shots of some of the scenery (with my old camera Olympus Pen PL1 and a standard lens, the equipment that accompanies me to the beach and other risky places).
But my pics are nothing compared to those taken only a few moments after we left and which have gone viral the last few days. See for instance this video – where we actually appear as well – look for Wally:).
But what was a Sunday with a special twist and nature giving us a spectacle for free, was devastating for others. Some 1 500 persons were affected, many of them losing all of their belongings. About 500 people are temporarily housed elsewhere. Schools have been closed. The most affected areas were La Libertad and Ahuachapán.
This is only the beginning of the season of storms and hurricanes. Let´s hope that we get no desastres. In times of Climate Change, anything can be expected.