The wind howls, shouldering its way through cracks and crevices, forcing its way into the house. It slides under the door, bringing with it fine white particles. You can’t hide from me! I’ll find you.
Outside the flecks blow through the air, collecting along the edge of our patio, drifting into corners and coating accessible surfaces. The particles insinuate themselves into clothing, sliding into tender spaces where jackets meet pants. In Centro, the street cleaners shovel it – yet again – off the streets and over the retaining walls: sand, damn sand!
What? Did you think I was talking about snow? We live in Mexico!
A Norte is a belligerent storm that blows from the north across the US/Mexico border, bringing strong winds, cooler temperatures, thick clouds and heavy rains.
On this particular day it was still brilliantly sunny and the kite surfers rode the exhilarating winds, getting huge air under their boards.
We, on the other hand were being sandblasted. We carefully picked particles out of our beachside lunch. Chomping down on a burger seasoned with bits of coral and shells can be tough on tooth enamel.
We discovered the easiest solution is to rinse the offending grit out of our mouths with an icy cold beer. And don’t talk a lot, just enjoy the day. Talking leads to sand in your teeth.
However this week we are suffering from the effects of the Polar Vortex that is enveloping most of Canada and the USA with record-breaking cold. Island tourists had abandoned plans for a lazy day at the beach, huddling instead inside hotel rooms wondering: why now, why me?
When a Norte hits after an extended dry spell, the sand is lighter and easily snatched up by the wind, and deposited wherever. Other times the rain will saturate the grit before the winds arrive to plaster the wet mess onto buildings. It’s a lot like blowing snow, but without the cruelly cold temperatures.
Meanwhile back at our beachside casa we have different challenges with sand. We have a beach and we have pets. It’s an interesting combination.
The two cats, Tommy and Chica seldom venture far but they like to investigate the surrounding area before deciding where they will nap for the next few hours. Each trip out and back beautifies our floors and furniture with numerous paw prints.
Tommy, my fourteen-year-old cat has a thick double coat that feels more like unspun wool than hair.
Particles cling to his substantial belly, and his chunky legs. His favourite napping spots are identified by a circular pattern of debris, the shape of a large, relaxed cat.
Chica, the younger tabby cat deposits her contributions on coffee tables and comfortably padded kitchen chairs. She is fastidious with personal hygiene – spending the next thirty minutes removing every fleck of sand from her silky fur, leaving it for me to remove from the furniture.
Sparky, a short, part-terrier, part-something-else pooch recently decided that he too should live at our house. He’s a rough coated low to the ground sand-magnet. His ideal day includes a swim in the ocean then a tussle in the sand with a neighbour’s dog, finished by a quick dash inside to say hello. Strewn across the patio is his gritty pathway leading into our main floor living space and up the circular stairway into our bedroom.
Sweeping, I return the sand to the beach for the animals, and us, to recycle on the next jaunt through the house. Housekeeping is a hit-or-miss proposition. We usually think about cleaning the house when the dust-bunnies are larger than our seventeen-pound cat, or when the ocean-side windows are occluded with a glaze of salt and sand.
If we clean the house, it will only get dirty again. It’s inevitable.
Accumulations of sand lend authenticity to the beach house theme of our casa.
And finally, there is the challenge of sand in your shorts caused by swimming in the warm Caribbean Sea. The sandy-bottomed ocean reflects beautiful hues of turquoise, indigo, and aqua-blue. The rolling waves scour the ocean bottom, lifting the fine white sand into suspension – and depositing the residue in the tender areas under bikinis and bathing trunks. It can be painful.
So, to our hardy northern readers who are currently dealing with temperatures as low as -50C, save a bit of sympathy for us. Instead of enduring record setting cold and snow, caused by the Polar Vortex, you too could be dealing with the challenge of scratchy sand in your shorts.
It’s a real hardship. Honestly. You should try it sometime.
Lynda & Lawrie