Friday, August 24, 2007

What, Me Worried?

You better Belize it! I was sweating bullets for a while.

Bigness and I were already on the mainland with UNBaby when the evacuation order came down on Sunday. A couple of days before we had decided to give Supergirl a break and take UNBaby with us to our little house in the bush. She promised not to color on the walls with green crayon again.

At noon on Sunday hurricane Dean drifted downward and directly in the path of Belize. Supergirl called me with the news as we have no internet and get one TV station (sometimes). So I advised her to get the plywood, and guess what? No plywood... again, so she bought the last 4 sheets of beaverboard (a thin masonite) and charged up the drill. She and Miss Barb had the store packed up in 3 hours, her suitcase packed and everything stored upstairs in our safe room.
Whew! I'm getting a headache just thinking about it.

Sunday afternoon we went into Belmopan to Brodies to pick up a few things, just of in case of... and I bought comfort food like chips, diet soda, a bag of chocolates, cookies. Not the real evacuation hurricane foods, just the I'm-starting-to-feel-sorry-for-myself foods as we contemplated and discussed what the storm turning towards us meant. Brodies was completely empty. I joked with the clerk that we were the only ones worried, she and me. We stopped by Cousin Carlos' house to look at the satellite on the internet and I made a quick call to Supergirl to confirm what we were seeing. Yes, we were going to get a whopping, do what you gotta do and get out of there. No posessions are worth lsing your life over.

We are adequately insured on the contents... and that helps me sleep at night. What we can't get is building insurance, because we are a 40 year old building on the beach. It is a reality that we live with every day. What would we do of in case of...? We would do the best we can, collect whatever we can from the insurance and start over. You can take the proof of talent away, but you can't take the talent inside of a person away.

Supergirl's been through a few disasters in the last couple of years, when my studio and gallery burned to the ground along with the rest of the block in downtown Wyandotte, Michigan, a fire at her own house a few years later in Detroit with a total loss, a few hurricanes, some scares here and there. A seasoned pro, she works through the list and prioritizes, not stopping until it is done.

Monday morning the sirens started at around 4:30 a.m. on Caye Caulker. Supergirl and guests from the Alamina Beach House had purchased their water taxi tickets the day before knowing they would try and leave on the earliest boat out. Supergirl peeked out the kitchen window and saw OJ (who is the disaster guy for Caye Caulker) talking to the police Sarge and noted that the sarge was completely dressed, not just in his underware as sometimes happens when disaster strikes and he's hauled out of bed to deal with it. (his apartment is on the second floor of the police station) OJ turned as she was coming down the stairs and asked her if she was bringing all those bags with her. She had a big suitcase, a big plastic bin with all the business papers in it, the laptop case and her carry on bag. He informed her that locals were allowed one medium size bag, plus your purse tourists were allowed their regular luggage. They were trying to pack as many human bodies on these boats as possible. So back into the house she went to repack. Gleefully she tossed the plastic bin with the business papers into the safe room, (and said "Woo Hoo to You!) and then packed the laptop into her suitcase. She and the beach house guests arrived at the peir at 5:45 a.m. and when she got there there were about 3 boat loads of people waiting already so they lined up and as soon as it was light enough, they loaded the boats to go. Every water taxi available was lining up and they would only release as many people onto the end of the peir as could fit on that particular boat. It was very well organized and mayhem did not break out.

Spin went to the city to pick her up and when she arrived at our little house in the bush I had already determined that I had bought the wrong foods. (duh) So we headed off to Belmopan again to fill the car's gas tank and to make another trip to Brodies and this time the place was packed. The same clerk joked with me as I asked where the D size batteries were and I mentioned to her that I forgot to buy ice cream. I bought all kinds of crappy food that I owuld never ever eat. Cans of beans because you don't know if you'll have cooking gas, cans of little weenies, cheeze whiz, saltines, cans of tuna, tins of meat, canned milk. You get the picture right? Food that makes you eternally constipated. Oh, don't forget the room spray!

We had a couple of extra people who came prepared and well organized as they have been through this many times before. We listened to LoveFM on the radio all that day and into the night. I gave up eventually and went to bed waking from time to time hearing Ernest Vasquez or Rene Villanueva's voice reassuring us that we were still here, that we still existed.

We had evacuated far enough aaway from the storm that we didn't even get any wind. It was dead calm and sprinking rain. Spin started calling around in the morning to see what the damage was and was happy to hear that it was storm surge and some wind but we did not get the battering like they did in San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye just 10 miles north of us. Cousin Ragio's beach had washed sand onto our beach. We actually gained beach during the storm. Turnaround is fair play because during hurricane Mitch in 1998 Bigness lost about 10,000 bzd in sand to cousin and it wasn't returned. I can see the sand wars are going to start soon.

We came back on Wednesday morning after they turned the electricity back on Tuesday night. We decided not to open right back immediately but to repaint the interior and do a general de-junking, after all how often is this store completely empty? Oh, about once every 3 years.

We opened back up all clean and sparkly this morning and a few tourists have come back to the island and are wandering around.

We're grateful to be here. Thank you to everyone who emailed me. All is well.


wayne said...

So glad to hear you and yours are fine. I've been checking everyday, as has every one else I'm sure! Sounds like you got the south part and we got the north part here on Isla Mujeres. The poor Mayans in between us. Back to normal...until the next one!

La Gringa said...

I'm so glad to hear that there were no serious problems where you were. I was getting nervous just reading your story -- thankfully it had a happy ending. I've yet to experience a hurricane and doubt that I will remain as calm and sensible as you and Supergirl.

P.S. I was born in Wyandotte!

Lost said...

Thank goodness you are all okay. The news here was frustratingly silent about what was going on ANYWHERE else other than Jamaica and Mexico. I'm so glad that you and yrs are safe.

zoe said...

i'm so glad to hear that you are all ok - and even did a spring-clean! there's always some good out of bad :)

Mary Beth said...

Dear Lee and Family: Great work! I am so glad to hear it. Marty's picturs on the Ambergris message board told the tale. Everyone on CC was really lucky. Hopefully that will be the worst of the 2007 season. MB

Cream said...

Lee, I love the way you take the whole thing in your stride and make the most of what for other people would be a frightening experience!
And to be bothered to repaint the café after all that!!!

La Gringa said...

WTF?! (Comment five above)

I just came to see if you had any new hurricane news. Wow. It's not fair. You just made it through one and now it looks like another one is coming. It also looks like this one may be headed to Honduras, too.

Stay safe!

DCveR said...

Hope Felix doesn't bring much trouble to you... I was just reading the news and it seems it is going to sweep right across Belize. Hope you people stay safe.

Caribbean Colors said...

Thanks everyone for your concern and support. Felix just grazed Belize, we were ready to run the drill again, however tiring, and everyone is o.k.