Every day as I walk to the university I pass by the Rio Tomebamba on Avenida 12 de abril. It’s a nice walk and really pretty, except for the fact that it’s been raining hard on and off every day this month. When I first got to Cuenca at the end of September, the river was placid and rock strewn. The water quickly rushed by, but was not overbearing, and you could see the big boulders and rocks that cover the riverbed.
As October is one of the rainiest months here in Cuenca, the river has continually been rising and growing more powerful. Every day as I walk by I can see little changes, and slowly over the last week I’ve noticed that the boulders and rocks have disappeared as the water level has risen higher and higher. It’s not that I’m worrying about there being a flood, but I wonder how long it will continue to climb.
You can’t see the rocks anymore, but just the white water-like rapids that bounce around as the water jumps over the humps, and the river banks, already low and unprotected, have been losing ground. I was told by a local that further down the city some of the poorer people live too close to the river and when it rises they are in danger. I’m wondering now how they’re doing in this rainy month.
The Tomebamba is an angry river now, flowing down from the mountains and through the city. Some people still wash their clothes in it, and occasionally I’ll walk by and see a family on the grass, all of their laundry strewn out, waiting for a dip. Others choose to pee in it.
This morning I went to class and noticed the river was rushing by like always, but it didn’t seem unusual. But two hours later as I left class I could see that it had dramatically risen, and was now a dirty, murky brown color. Nothing could be seen in the water, except for the occasional boulder that has some water cleared over it. I could see that the bank was starting to overflow, and then it started to pour again. How much longer before it reaches the street?
Above: Rio Tomebamba, before the rains