Couple defy Hurricane Maria on roof to save pets — lots of them

Sandra Harasimowicz (R) talks to her husband Gary Rosario while he carries one of their dogs on the roof of a neighbor’s house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Yauco, Puerto Rico, September 25, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 26 September 2017

Couple defy Hurricane Maria on roof to save pets — lots of them

YAUCO, Puerto Rico: Hurricane Maria battered this quiet Puerto Rican outpost and covered it with mud, but it couldn’t separate Sandra Harasimowicz from her beloved pets.
She and her husband Gary Rosario said they clung to the side of a house for hours last week to save their seven dogs from a hurricane that reduced their picturesque neighborhood in Puerto Rico to a desolate mud pit.
Harasimowicz, 43, a native of Poland said the couple were trapped neck-deep in water after Hurricane Maria tore into their home in the southwestern town of Yauco last Wednesday, sending them and their dogs scrambling onto a neighbor’s roof to escape.
The storm, which has killed at least 10 people across the US territory, turned the couple’s street into bed of debris-strewn silt after a nearby river burst its banks. The surging flow entered their house “like it was the end of the world,” Harasimowicz told Reuters on Monday.
Trying to keep the animals close in the hurricane while holding tight to solar panels on the neighbor’s roof, Harasimowicz said she watched aghast as one of the dogs jumped four times into the raging torrent that had swamped the street.
Each time Rosario, who is Puerto Rican and a national guardsman, leapt in after the errant dog to haul it back to safety.
“I thought I was going to lose him; he just did it because he’s such an animal lover,” said Harasimowicz, whose family lives in the city of Poznan in western Poland. “I said: ‘That’s it, I’m losing the animals and I’m losing my husband.’“
The mother of two explained how the couple had earlier stashed their eight cats on top of the kitchen cupboards to ride out the storm when the floodwaters started rising to their chins.
The couple had already sent their children, aged 6 and 12, to stay with a friend nearby before Maria struck.
But after failing to find a refuge for the cats and dogs, Harasimowicz said they felt they should remain there with the animals, in part because they did not believe the storm would be so severe.
“Basically, we underestimated,” Harasimowicz said.
Maria knocked out power and telecommunications across the island of 3.4 million, unleashing chaos and disorder that residents believe will take months from which to recover.
Residents of the Yauco estate known as Urbanizacion Luchetti returned to find furniture, refrigerators and washing machines had moved around their homes in the mud bath. Floors were caked in a musty-smelling brown sludge. Furnishings were ruined.
“Everyone says they want to leave here,” said neighbor Jose Velazquez, 57, reviewing the mess Maria had made of his home.
At the end of the street, the rotting body of a pit bull lay on its side by a house railing, maggots teeming at its neck.
Harasimowicz and Rosario returned home Wednesday night when the flooding began to recede, spending the night on top of a bunk bed with their pets. But they were horrified as the waters began rising again.
Believing they had no choice in order to survive, the couple broke into a neighbor’s house with a hammer so they could occupy its rooftop annex with their pets. By then, they had acquired another dog that had wandered up seeking shelter from the storm.
“It was either break in or die,” said Rosario, a jovial 49-year-old who on Monday was taking stock of his ruined home and the family’s gaggle of pets, all of which survived.
The couple have bathed and washed their clothes in rainwater collecting on the roof, and are now planning their next move.
After 12 years in Puerto Rico — seven of them in Yauco — Harasimowicz said she has had enough.
“Never again,” she said. “This is over for me.”


Bad week for Mexico tourism capped by mis-translations

Updated 08 August 2020

Bad week for Mexico tourism capped by mis-translations

  • The snafu has prompted former president Felipe Calderón to write in his Twitter account: “Stop making Mexico look ridiculous!”
  • Local media reports say the errors may have been introduced by a web services supplier angry about not being paid

MEXICO CITY: It has been a bad week for Mexican tourism promotion, and it got worse Friday when the English language version of the country’s tourism website appeared with hilarious mis-translations.
Entire states like Hidalgo and Guerrero apparently got machine translated as “Noble” and “Warrior.”
Worse for the VisitMexico.com site, there was systematic and inexplicable re-invention of the names of some fairly well-known tourist towns. The Caribbean resort of Tulum somehow became “Jumpsuit.” The nearby lagoon of Bacalar, on the Caribbean coast, was switched to the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.
The snafu came one day after the US State Department cited the high number of COVID-19 cases in Mexico for issuing a “do not travel” advisory for the country, its highest level of warning. Hours earlier, the resort of Acapulco was forced to pull “anything goes” tourism ads that showed people partying without masks and the words “there are no rules.”
But the problems at VisitMexico.com drew howls of hilarity — and anger. The Pacific coast resort of Puerto Escondido became “Hidden Port,” a literal translation, and the northern city of Torreon became “Turret,” which is kind of close.
Some name changes were just inexplicable and appeared to have as much to do with invention as simple translation. The central Mexican town of Aculco somehow became “I Blame,” and the northern Gulf coast city of Ciudad Madero became “Log.”
“Stop making Mexico look ridiculous!” former President Felipe Calderón wrote in his Twitter account.
Mexico’s Tourism Department issued a statement apologizing for the apparently out-sourced errors, but then made it sound like something sinister had been involved.
“The Tourism Department expresses its most sincere apologies to the public and users for the effects that have occurred on the website VisitMexico,” the statement said. “Moreover, we make it known that these acts aim to damage the image of the website and the department, and so therefore a criminal complaint has been filed and appropriate legal actions will be taken against those responsible.”
The department did not explain that claim, but local media reported the dispute might involve a web services supplier angry about not being paid.
On Thursday, officials took down a pair of Acapulco video ads touting the faded resort’s reputation as a nightclubbing spot — despite the fact nightclubs are currently closed to enforce social distancing. They said the ads weren’t appropriate during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have stopped being a postcard from the past, today we have changed the rules,” says a narration in one of the videos. “In fact, there are no rules,” says another voice, as people can be seen eating bizarre meals and going out to night clubs. “Eat whatever you want, have fun day and night and into the early morning hours ... find new friends and new loves.”