REMOLINO!!! (a.k.a. "Dust in the Wind" and "When Pigs Fly")

While most of our friends in the U.S. are grateful for the evolving warm weather…we’ve been hitting low 90s for about 2 weeks. This time of year brings the heart of the heat in central Mexico.

With the heat often comes dust devils. The word in Spanish is “remolino.” I’m gonna guess that the word comes from “molino” which means “mill” as in paper mill and the prefix “re” which often gives the connotation of “again.” When used as “molino de agua” it means “water wheel” or “molino de viento” which means “wind mill.” In both cases there is something turning over and over again. I presume that “remolino” then means…a wheel or mill that continually turns…and thus a dust devil.

That’s all just my best guess. It seems logical enough. I don’t know why they don’t call it a “molino de polvo” or “dust mill,” but then that could get confusing since everything down here is dusty this time of year. A “mill of dust” could refer to anything from a dusty factory to a group of kids/adults playing soccer in an open field of dirt (which is a common sight here). Sort of reminds me of a whole group of “Pigpen” characters from the comic Peanuts all playing soccer at the same time. Nothing but clouds of dust!

The photo below was taken on our way back from Puebla two years ago. This may have been the largest dust devil we’ve ever seen. The base was as wide as a small house.

I bring this up because some friends who were visiting from Puebla earlier this week mentioned seeing a couple of remolinos on their way up to nearby Camp Koinonia. One of these dust devils was heading straight down the highway they were on, and it seemed odd to see it follow the road rather than merely cross it as happens routinely during this time of year. Another of these remolinos that they witnessed chased down some scattered sheep in a field near the same road and one of the running sheep was actually picked up a foot or two off the ground! Wow…that’s a dust devil for sure! If the term had been “when sheep fly” rather than pigs do, I suppose something rare just happened!

Yesterday, Cameron and Dayton walked home with me from the house of the Yingling family. As we walked through the narrow neighborhood just behind their house, we were hit in the face by a wall of wind which startled all three of us. Within moments the wind picked up significantly…I held my cap and turned my back to it expecting it to pass quickly. The wind just kept increasing in intensity and the dust and dirt and debris surrounded us. Off to my side I saw a roof fly past (I am not kidding!) and it landed about 15 feet behind me and shattered on the ground next to a parked car. All I could think was that “we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.” By the way, the roof was what we call a “lamina” and is a rippled rectangle of ceramic-like asbestos and was about 8 foot by 4 foot in size. The whole remolino experience was impressive, if not a bit closer than I’ve ever wanted to experience it.

Then as suddenly as the wind came, it was gone. I couldn’t really tell where it went to in the tight space in which we were standing. I got a glimpse about 200 yards downwind of a lot of blackbirds flying awkwardly, and I presumed they were disrupted from their normal blackbird routines. I don’t suppose they were picked up like that sheep but maybe there were…how can you tell when a wind picks up a bird which is flapping its wings anyway? I’m a rocket scientist not a bird scientist, so I couldn’t tell you the answer to that one. 🙂

We were thankful to God that the lamina didn’t hit us on the head. Probably would have killed us. Didn’t really think much of it at the time. We were rather awe-struck by the whole event then. Dayton mentioned that he nearly left the ground. I bet he did!

Speaking of Kansas, we definitely seemed like “dust in the wind” and amazingly, none of us got anything in our eyes. Maybe we were in the eye of the storm? No…it was just a wall of wind as far as we could tell.

So as far as clichés about wind and storms are concerned…we weren’t actually “dust in the wind” (the dusty wind kept passing on by and we remained), we weren’t kept safe “in the eye of the storm” (we were kept safe IN the storm), and “pigs did not fly” (just sheep and blackbirds).

I guess I need to consider rewriting some songs and sayings that we often take for granted as true but either aren’t true or there simply are some exceptions!

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2 Responses to REMOLINO!!! (a.k.a. "Dust in the Wind" and "When Pigs Fly")

  1. There was a dust storm on our way into Queretaro a month or so ago and we couldn’t see ANYTHING for a moment (not the best when you’re on that highway!!)

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  2. That’s an amazing picture! We were in the park on Saturday and out of the blue a wind picked up and blew a pancarta, um, a big Coca-Cola sign like they put on top of the little stands flew by! It was impressive! We’re hoping none of those things picks up our trampoline! It’s tied down pretty good, but still…

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