I just took this picture. It’s the view I have from my terrace at the moment. What is normally a beautiful sweep of mountains in the distance, has been reduced to a film of white dust which totally eclipses the mountains. It looks like a shot of southern Florida when you’re away from the water.
Now, I must emphasize at this point, that never until I returned to the island ten years ago, had I heard of Sahara dust. My mother, who taught me everything I learned about the island and my ancestry, never mentioned it. She did talk at length of the terrifying thunderstorms of summer and of the northerly spring showers named for the “Pigeon Peas.” She also mentioned often the great killer hurricanes of her father’s youth and the earthquake of 1918.
Yet, never did she mention any Sahara dust. During the few years I spent in the island as a child and the many times I visited over the years, I never saw or heard of Sahara dust. Baffled by this, I asked several of my neighbors and most of my cousins and friends about it. All of them claim that the phenomenon was not seen in their youth, but began appearing a few decades ago.
It turns out this is not true. These Sahara dust episodes have been happening for thousands of years, but they were light, and no one noticed. Now they are really heavy and strongly visible. This week’s episode is expected to reach the southern USA.
What exactly is it? As I understand the issue, dust from the sandy Sahara is lifted into the upper wind currents of the atmosphere and is carried halfway across the world where if finally falls to blanket our island. Obviously, our island is only a small part of the recipient lands.
We, Puerto Ricans, see this as insult added to injury. In the recent past (last three years,) we have been assaulted by a category 5 killer hurricane, the Financial Oversight and Management Board, a series of earthquakes which began last Christmas season and are still being felt, the overthrow of the previous republican governor under a juicy scandal, and the Covid 19 pandemic which brought about a complete shutdown of the island.
Now, Puerto Ricans are, as a people, deeply optimistic and resilient, but there are limits. Many tend to see every little misfortune as a precursor to the end of the world. One of my closest neighbors and dearest friend is fully convinced that the end of the world is here. She preaches to me daily, wearing her mask, of course.
She watches the news of the mainland (USA) and points to the news coverage of race riots and rising pandemic numbers, and crumbling economy as proof that the end of the world is near. She might have a point. I believe I can identify the anti-Christ. I refrain from telling her my suspicions because she is a staunch republican, and I’d hate to lose her friendship.
As an author, this is all very depressing to me. If the world comes to an end, who will read my books? Should I keep writing? Should I leave out all the sex, violence, and supernatural characters that I may be judged more kindly? I have tough decisions to make.
I hope you read between my lines and grasp the underlying humor. I am attempting to prove that I am optimistic and resilient. I spit in the face of adversity. It could be worse: we can still get a volcanic eruption or a meteor strike. We should count our blessings!
If you have not read my Vampires in the Mist series, now is the time. The 5th volume, Bloodstone, is now available.