Friday, April 04, 2008

Come on baby, light my fire

So on two sides of our house are coffee and sugar cane fields; on a third side, an empty, overgrown lot, and in the front is a dead-end street. Thus one might be concerned when the coffee field behind one's house catches on fire at about 8:00 at night, filling one's house with smoke so that one cannot breathe without choking on it. When one's esposo calls 911 to get the fire department to come put out said fire, one expects the fire department to do just that. However, one would be wrong.

Our closest neighbors on this side of the street (on the other side of the empty lot) were even closer to the fire, and when we walked up the street to see just how bad the fire was, we could see smoke pouring into their backyard and (one would assume) windows and house. Their kids were a little hysterical, understandably so. By the time we got there, they were debating whether or not they should leave. (Some did, some stayed.) Were I them, I would have been terribly worried about the fire spreading to my backyard, but since I don't understand hysterical Spanish, they may or may not have had that concern (again, though, one would assume they did).

To put the size of the fire into perspective, and because math ain't my strong point, let's say it was about the size of a typical lot in the U.S. So pretty good sized.The fire department never showed, and in the middle of the night the fire finally (thankfully) burned itself out. I ask you, though, can you imagine a big ol' fire in the U.S. and no one responding to it? I cannot. And this is dry country here in Grecia, my friends. When I said the other day that I thought rainy season might be starting, I was full of crap. Ha. It may indeed be starting, but not here in Grecia. Every afternoon, a big dark raincloud passes right over the house, sometimes sprinkling two or three tantalizing drops of rain on us. Otherwise, it has not rained since. So you can imagine, after a long hot summer, that everything is super dry, including my backyard, and including the empty lot next door.

When I relayed this story to a couple of friends yesterday, one of them said, Well, they probably sent someone over there to look at the fire, and he came, and said, eh, that's not so big, and just left. And we all laughed. Because it's probably true. The same friend said he knew someone on the volunteer fire department in Escazu, and one day they were standing there and a big fire started up in the hills. My friend asked his friend shouldn't he go put it out, and he replied, nah, unless it's black, it's not burning a structure, so we just leave it alone.

You know, couldn't they put the fire out before it burns a structure? Like my house or my neighbor's house? Oh no, that would be too easy.


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