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  • Christie Bonham

Hurricanes, Horses And A New Outlook on Life

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

It has been several weeks now since Hurricane Odile marched into town. A record breaking Category 3 storm with winds that topped out at Category 4 to 5 levels, it dealt a hefty blow to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Weather records date back as far as the late 1800’s for the Baja Penninsula. During this time there has never been a storm of this severity. There have been hurricanes, yes, but nothing the likes of Odile. This one was a monster all of itself. The winds and nature of the storm combined with the way it made a direct hit on Cabo was truly unlike no other. It changed the landscape of the entire Baja Penninsula and our little town took a severe beating.

I was traveling in the U.S. with my husband at the time. We had left five days prior on a prearranged holiday. With our pets at home with our trusty pet sitter, Milagro was left in the care of our Stable  Ranch hand and caretaker, Saul. He and his family live on the premise and have been through their share of Hurricanes. But Odile caught everyone by surprise.

Its hard to know exactly what everyone went through on the night of September 14th. Being away from home and our pets was heartbreaking. We received word from the pet sitter the following morning that our place had done well and our pets were safe and managing alright. But it took two more days before I could get word about the horses. The only news I received at that point was “they are OK”. What does that mean I asked myself? Does it mean they are loose, running the fields after being turned out to fend for themselves? Does it mean they are without stalls or shelter, but on at the barn? Does it mean they have food? And water? The news coming out of Cabo got very dire the days after Odile hit with looting and the safety of our citizens at risk. Where were the horses in all of this? I could not get my mind to settle one bit.

Come Thursday, four days after the storm, I finally got word. Amazingly enough, the stable had stood including the roof. Two large gates had blown down and water had funneled in from the streets. But it ran mostly in front of the stalls and went directly past Milagro towards the back of the property. That area filled like a lake and a large concrete wall crumbled, but to no harm to the horses. The arena railing also blew over. But again, to no harm to the horses. Saul had secured enough water in the cistern to ration for the time necessary, and had protected a food supply as well. Its all so amazing as people and families were without water, the horses had enough to get by. Saul hauled up 50 buckets a day by hand. When others might have buckled under the stress and fatigue, he stepped up to the plate. He did what was necessary to meet the needs of the horses, his family, and the property.

10 days went by, and finally power was restored. All around the stable the town of Cabo was in shambles. Large hotels were closed and would not reopen until the spring of next year. The streets were flooded and martial law was in order. But at our little stable, things were getting back in order. A crew was assembled and the arena was restructured. The horses were able to get out and exercise once again, water was running, so life as they knew it had returned to normal.

As humans we encounter many things in our life’s journey that test our faith in ways unimaginable. I was fortunate to not have had to live through Hurricane Odile. But that does not mean deep lessons didn’t come from it. This experience has brought out an amazing perseverance and sense of pride from the people here. I have at times been hard on Cabo and all its short comings. Guilty of comparing it to life back home in the USA. But it is not a fair comparison. And really, Cabo has something the USA does not. What that is exactly is hard to describe in words. It can only be felt in the heart. I can say I learned from Odile that Cabo makes me a better person. Life here challenges me, it backs me into a corner sometimes and makes me come out fighting. It makes me say, yes, this is my home. I belong here. It is my time to live this life, here. It is my place, where my heart lies. With the people, with my family, with this town. And of course, with my sweet rescue horse named Milagro.

My boy can put another feather of survival in his cap now. He is one of the lucky Hurricane Odile survivors. But to see him, you wouldn’t know. To Milagro, the sun is shining, fall is in the air, and crisp green apples await him on every visit. When it comes to grasping life with both reins, Milagro is the master of the universe. Come Hell or Hurricane, life in the saddle goes on!

Milagro and Me

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