That was what went through my mind, early in the morning, lying in bed.
Although I had never experienced an earthquake in my life, all my senses screamed that this was one. The frantic yelling I could hear over the top of the thundering noise fueled my fears. This was it. Next the house would cave in, the world would end. Minutes after the rumbling had disappeared and the house was still standing, I wondered if it might have been something else.
It turned out I it had been Enraged Enrique with his oxcart.
To this day the ”earthquake” adrenaline still floods my veins when his oxcart comes past the back of the house. Had I grown up with the noise it might have been different.
Enraged Enrique is the only one in the village who stills uses his. It’s the swelling rumble you hear first, caused by the solid wooden wheels, followed by him bellowing at his cows. Vaca ve! Anda!
As scary as they sound, oxcarts are dangerous too, considering cows do not come with fitted hand breaks.
The village eldest, the story goes, went to work on the land with the oxcart and ended up crushed under it, the cows refusing to stop. Her screams for help reached the village, and it was villager O who realised it was not one of her usual screeching matches which she was famous for, but that something far more serious had happened. Her fractured leg was in such a bad way that village men who arrived later at the scene had to avert their eyes. The wound never healed.
Another villager showed me the huge scar she had on her arm, the result of one of the solid wheels driving over her.
Although oxcarts are barely used anymore, they’ve not disappeared from the landscape. Instead of being pulled by cows they’re now parked on the next generation’s neatly mowed lawns. Relics of the past, heavily varnished. A plant pot or two on top. In worse cases a gnome on the side.
Remnants of their parents’ hard work, who often feel those green lawns could be put to far better use as a potato field. They might not tell their children, but they tell me.
That land. I used to grow potatoes there. And they want grass to sit on. I guess that is progress.
“Considering the state the world currently is in,” I said to villager J the other day, “we might end up having to use those oxcarts again.”
He didn’t answer me. But I could read it in his eyes. He sure hoped so.