This was a story that was written last Halloween while we were still on Isla Vieques, Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. No electricity, no running water, no cell reception and no Internet. Thus, no posting! Halloween came and went and this one didn’t make it to the website. So we thought that we’d share it with you this year and hope that you enjoy!
One year ago today we were on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico when Irma morphed me from a hurricane amateur, into a hurricane whiz. Unfortunately, when Maria hit ten days later, I became a hurricane pro.
Well folks, I hate to break it to you, but it looks like it’s happening again. This morning, when I checked my phone, I had three tropical storm/hurricane warnings flashing! Three! Florence, Isaac and Helene! September is definitely hurricane month for this part of the planet. They happen. They are serious business and should be taken seriously when they occur.
After what we experienced last year, we’ve had quite a few people ask us what they could have sent and could have done to help people that are suffering through hurricane disasters. So we’ve given it some thought.
This past year we survived hurricanes Irma and Maria on Vieques, Puerto Rico. Maria wiped out the electrical, water and communication infrastructures on the island so that we were without power, running water, cell, and Internet for almost two months.
Grocery store shelves were bare, ice was scarce and the three gasoline stations were closed more often than they were open.
Finding the basics (food, gas, water and ice) was a daily quest. Somedays we got lucky, and other days not. On the “not” days our conversations went something like this.
We said farewell to Vieques, Puerto Rico, on November 2nd.
For us, goodbye is bittersweet, especially when it means we are walking away from memories, special friends, a weeping community and an island limping toward recovery.
On this side of it all, as we now read the accounts of everything that occurred, during and after the hurricanes, we realize that not one of the news articles really captures what happened and what was really going on. The rest of the world just doesn’t “get it.”
John grew up in New Orleans. He’s been through a lot hurricanes and tropical storms. He understands hurricane preparation, as well as hurricane recovery. One of the things he tried to get me ready for, after Maria, is a major infestation of BUGS!
Man O’ Man, was he right. We are covered in flying and crawling varmints and his racket “zapper” is doing over time.
This morning, as I was making coffee, John stepped to the screened door with his zapper in one hand and bug spray in the other. He stood there for a second and then exclaimed to the insect population of Vieques:
“Bring it on. I’m ready for you. Who’s it gonna be? Who’s gonna be the BUG OF THE DAY???”
We’ve learned so much about what it takes to be disaster/hurricane survivors.
Our friend Bill describes Viequense with the three R’s: resilient, resourceful and respectful. The people on Vieques are truly remarkable. But, we’ve added another “R” to his analogy – RELIEF lines.
Daily, if we haven’t stood at least an hour in some kind of line, we feel like we haven’t accomplished anything for the day.
Here’s what I mean.
October 8, 2017 Vieques, Puerto Rico We owned a web development/marketing company prior to becoming house sitters. We thought we were tech savvy and pretty current on how devices worked, as well as anything that had to do with the World Wide Web. Often we used our phones to browse the Internet, even when we […]
Last year when we downsized (sold our cars, home, furniture, business and personal belongings) to travel the world as house sitters, we thought we were trimming our lives down to the bare bones. We kept only what we thought we needed to exist in the world. Two carry-ons and two suitcases each of our “stuff” is pretty basic, right?
WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!
September 20, 2017 Vieques, Puerto Rico Nothing that we went through during Irma prepared us for what Hurricane Maria did to us and the beautiful island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. We had followed the hurricane experts’ predictions about Maria’s path and we were hoping that she would pass south of us. No such luck. Here’s […]
September 13, 2017 Vieques, Puerto Rico We were lucky. Irma did little structural damage to Vieques. The trees and landscaping were not as fortunate. Huge trees were uprooted and many roads were semi-blocked from branches and debris. The electrical and telephone poles are still standing, but there was some damage to a few power lines. […]