Honduras’s annual rain of fish and a shower of frozen sausages in Florida
The story goes that a Spanish priest prayed for three days and nights that God should provide sustenance
In late spring or early summer every year for the last century or so, hundreds of small silver fish are said to have fallen during torrential downpours over La Unión (pop. 93,000), a community on the periphery of Yoro, a farming town in north-central Honduras. After heavy rain, a sunken pasture is suddenly covered with stillliving fish. The fall has shifted location slightly from time to time; it migrated to the pasture near La Unión about a decade ago. The harvest becomes a communal affair for La Union’s 200 or so homes, and everyone shares in the bounty. Those who collect the most redistribute their fish to families who are unable to get to the field in time to collect their share. Peddling the catch is prohibited. In the 1970s, a National Geographic team witnessed the fish on the ground.
Scientists are said to be baffled; the fish are not local but may be coming from the Atlantic about 45 miles (72km) away, possibly carried by waterspouts, although none have been observed at the time of precipitation – and why would they fall in the same region so regularly? Nobody has actually seen a fish fall from the sky, but residents say this is only because nobody dares leave home during the kinds of powerful storms that bring the fish. Some have suggested that the fish live in underground rivers and are actually being forced up by flooding. This hypothesis is supported by the 1970s National
Geographic team’s finding that the fish are blind. But why should the phenomenon be repeated annually at roughly the same time of year?
Local people say it’s a miracle. The story goes that a Spanish priest, Father José Manuel de Jesús Subirana – who arrived in Honduras in 1855 and worked there until his death in 1864 – prayed for three days and three nights that God should provide sustenance for the poor. In answer to his prayer, a dark cloud appeared and fish rained from the sky. This wonder is repeated every year – sometimes twice a year. A lluvia
de peces (rain of fish) festival was inaugurated in 1998, with a parade carrying effigies of Father Subirana through the streets. The priest’s remains are buried in the church on Yoro’s central square. Young women compete to be elected Señorita Lluvia de Peces; the winner of the pageant rides a float dressed like a mermaid. atlasobscura. com, wikipedia; nytimes.com, 16 July; breakingisraelnews.com, 19 July 2017.
SAUSAGE FROM THE SKY
At 4am on 15 July 2017, several bundles of frozen pork sausages, weighing 15lb (6.8km) in total, landed on the roof of Travis Adair’s house in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Adair thought the “big bang” was thunder, but his wife Jennie went outside and found two bundles of sausages next to the house. Then his son Austin found three on the roof. “It had to fall from the sky,” Adair said. “It was too heavy to throw on the roof.” The house is near three airports, suggesting the meat fell from a plane. However, the Federal Aviation Administration made no immediate comment.
Labelling on the package showed it originally belonged to Jim Williams, who lives 170 miles (270km) away in Myakka City. Williams, who owns a company that prepares fields for planting, said he bought some pigs from some children at a county fair last January. He kept much of the meat and gave some away but he has no idea how any of it ended up on the Adairs’ roof. He is not a pilot and doesn’t own a plane. “I would have thought 15 pounds of frozen meat falling from an airplane would have put a hole in the roof,” he said. As for the meat, the Adairs threw it away – though Williams had offered to throw the family a barbecue. local10.com, 17 July; [AP] 20 July 2017.
ABOVE: Some of the mysterious pork products that landed on Travis Adair’s roof.