Tuesday, September 25, 2012

post flood fears

This season has been a hard one, but it's flown by.  The flood, at times, seems like it happened years instead of months ago.  Explaining what happened here in Monterosso in the short period of time you have to interact with a table dining has gotten down to an art form.  Everything has reopened, bright and shiny and new, and the wood planks on Via Roma have worked their way into normality.  The last little lonely sandbag sits forgotten on the stairs up to the apartment.  Living in it, working through it - the disaster and subsequent recovery happened so mind-shatteringly fast that it seems almost like it was a nightmare, a foggy, muddy dream, and one long ago in the past.
Then it rains, and the eyes that saw those same waters run down the streets in town look up to the mountains cautiously.  Wood planks, stored away but still close by, close with authoritative and final sounding thuds over new doors and windows.  Rain boots come out.  And we nervously gather under overhangs, eves, and archways hoping that the rain passes quickly.

Today, it was a grey, windy, rainy day that started out with a strong wind that work me up to take the laundry in, like that fateful day in October.  I woke up to news that a freak rockslide on the Via Dell'Amore had left the trail closed and several tourists with severe injuries in the hospital, as they were rescued and airlifted there.  I went to Levanto to buy some groceries and snacks for Manuel, stopping to exchange the usual - I can't believe what happened on the trail today - then came back to run to the bank before work.  Walking up Via Roma, I opened my umbrella.  There were people still eating outside, hoods up on their jackets, plates steaming with food that was contrasting sharply with the humidity of the coming storm and the black clouds forming over the hills.

The rain started to fall hard, fast and the gutters started running off like fountains.  The water rushed under the canals, the open grates of the newly rebuilt streets slippery.  Hiding in the archway on Via Roma across from Hotel Margherita, one of the hardest hit in the flood, I sat waiting out the storm with Manu's cousin and some other boys from town, as well as a few visitors.  An umbrella was rendered useless and all there was to do was wait.  We laughed at the inconvenience, but there was an unspoken but noted undercurrent of tension.  Someone wiped a stray tear.  Those who weren't here last year looked down to the sea.  Those who were looked up to the mountains, and the start of the street that had been turned into a swirling current of mud, water and destruction so quickly last October.  Manu called me, hysterical learning where I was.  As we all discussed going up to the apartment of Manuel's cousin, on the top floor and right there, the rain let up.  After 15 minutes, I was able to start to walk  back towards the Cantina.  I wasn't the only one shaken up - stores boarded up, closed, people immediately went home.  A lady next to me mused, perplexed, that it wasn't that bad.  I almost laughed out loud.  The whole day took a strange feel afterwards, as the sun pushed through the black sky and shone bright and hot over the sea.  People played in the water.  Wanted to eat outside.  I wanted to close and go home.  When I say the weather changes quickly here, I'm not exaggerating.  I went from 15 minutes of nervous, incredible rain, to sun and shaken villagers.  

We laughed off our nerves, but at the same time, no one needed to make excuses or apologies for frantic phone calls, barking orders, and generally freaking out for what turned out to be - thankfully - nothing.  We were full for dinner inside and outside, and no one seemed to notice that we were all a little rattled.  Until, when we closed tonight, we broke out our wooden planks and sandbags, and for the first time this season, closed them over the Cantina.  Lessons learned.


  1. This post brought tears to my eyes. I can't imagine the angst all of you must feel when the rain appears. I'm Melissa from California (the lady with the sauces), and I will be keeping you and Manuel's family in my prayers throughout this rainy season. I'm writing a brief, small blog for family and friends of our travels. You are featured on the "Meeting an Old Friend" page. If you're interested, you can find it at http://fromparis2rome.blogspot.it.
    It was great meeting you!

  2. Melissa, thank you again for the sauces! It brought tears to my eyes, not just because I missed them, but your incredible thoughtfulness to bring them all this way for me really touched me. I'm glad you had a great vacation - it was great meeting you too! :)

  3. Christine you and all the people of Cinque Terre have done so well to recover as you did after the flood's. It will always leave you woundering as the memories never leave. but the lessons learned are of such importance and I am glad you now have your flood plan in hand to give you some peice as you rest at the end of a busy day. may this season pass with the greening of the mountains and the blue sea brining you Blessings of food. May your year ahead be filled with many good memories to help with the one's of the past take there place among time past.
    I look forward to the day I come to see you all again and enjoy your fine food and kindness.
    Love keeping up with life there reading your post's. thank you for the gift of your writing and story's of the day.
    Hello and Blessings to all. Denise

  4. Denise, thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts - hope all is well with you and your family, and I hope you get the chance to come back soon!! :)