Black Plague Strikes El Refugio

Yes, you read the title correctly. We in El Refugio have an epidemic of the black plague. Many homes have been stricken and with the strong winds blowing there seems to be no end in sight. The symptoms are everywhere. In the streets. In the stores. On the microbuses. Even in the churches. People are coughing more than usual. They seem to be avoiding contact with one another in normal intercourse at front doors, street corners, or bus stops.

We’ve seen no personnel from the Ministry of Health, no advisories on the TV, not even a public address announcement from the office of the mayor. We’re pretty much left on our own to deal with all that has befallen us.
We can only pray that the winds will shift blowing the threat in another direction. Rain is unlikely, so we can’t foresee any aid from nature. Oh, we’re used to tragedies such as the black plague in Central America. In more developed countries, there are laws and their precautions which prevent such contamination. Unfortunately, this cyclical even has occurred rather regularly since the days of the Mayan Empire.
So the ashes keep falling on El Refugio. The cañeros who cut the sugar cane and load it on the trucks to go to the processing plants are burning the chaff. This is one place where slash and burn is a way of life. The nitrates replenish the soil for next year’s crop. It is necessary to burn the unusable parts of the cane. The ashes are light and are like a plague of locusts as the various sized pieces of ash are carried on the wind currents and fall any and everywhere. Houses like ours with gaps between the roof tiles are inundated with ash. It is impossible to keep up with cleaning it. It falls like black snow on everything. It clings to walls, curtains, bed coverings, and the sheets we throw over the living room chairs and sofa. It gets into all water containers. It wafts into the refrigerator when the door is open. Possibly the worse thing is how it gets on your food and into your drink while you are eating. There is no place to escape from its insidious attempt to fill every vacant spot in the house. I am constantly blowing ash from my keyboard and screen. I’ve closed the doors and windows to at least keep the wind from blowing ash through those openings but it does little good. If it comes in through the roof there is no defense.
But we are Salvadorans. We are short but fearless. We shall survive!

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