On the way, we saw a couple of Gringo tourists playing in a water spout, and decided to join them. As the storm clouds loomed unnoticed behind us, we snapped the picture that now graces my facebook profile.
I headed over and looked into the spout, but was unprepared for the amount of strength it had gained as the storm approached. I got instantly soaked, and in that same instant the rain got started. The effect was that I wondered why I still felt the spout's water falling on me, even though I was now twenty feet away. Andrea had no such problem, and was already shouting at me and running towards the car when I finally noticed the rain.
We got back to the jeep and quickly put the top back up (we had taken it down just a few minutes earlier), watching as the gringo couple did the same. We outran the rain after a few minutes, and continued on our trip 'round the Island. I'm probably one of the only people in the workld who looks inland while driving around a Caribean Island, but I found the plant communities fascinating. For example, I've never seen a broad expanse of land where the tallest plant, the overstory, is dominated by palm trees.
Part of the reason for that might be that the Island is periodically wiped clean by hurricanes. The most recent one, Wilma, came through about four years ago and took down a lot of the Island's infrastructure. Since those palm communities are on the seaward, mostly undeveloped side of the Island, they serve buffer for the people on the landward shore. This function is only becoming more important as climate change makes hurricanes stronger and more frequent.
Depressing as that sounds, one high point is that people here are at least awere of the buffering their natural areas provide. When I arrived in Cozumel last night, Andrea and I spoke to her friend Liz about Donald Trump's plan to build a huge marina complex in the Northeast part of the Island, the reserve north of the bisecting road. When the people of Cozumel heard this plan, there were protests by the young who knew this was a terrible idea. "If they'd built it," Liz explained, "it would have been wiped out by the next hurricane anyway, and it would have removed a lot of our proteccion from hurricanes."
The project was never built, and the victory is an example of the lesson cities like Cancun and New Orleans learned the hard way: take out your natural buffers at your own peril.