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.
Just south of Guadalajara, sister cities, Chapala and Ajijic sit on Mexico’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Chapala. Both cities have unique charm, temperate climates and amenities galore, which have made this area a mecca for retirees and ex-pats.
You might think that for a community focused on so many retirees, that activities would be sedate, laid-back and mundane. Oh contraire! Boredom is not allowed. In fact, even mediocre is not permitted! We had heard horror stories about safety in parts of Mexico, but found this area to be one of the safest places we’ve ever been. I ran on the highways to and from town and felt perfectly safe. So after spending a few days here, we decided that all the tales of retirement blah and fear are made up to scare “un”fun people away from this lovely area and the fun side of the wall!
November 17, 2017 Dallas, Texas Our next house sit is in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico. Before jumping into a new culture and country, we decided that it would be best to go to the U.S. for a week to wash our salvageable clothes, take hot showers, replace trashed clothes, and most importantly visit with family that […]
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!
When my sons, Scott and Brad, were teens they had a pet iguana named Squiggy. Squiggy had full reign of their upstairs bedrooms and loved to ride on our shoulders as we walked around the house. I would even rock him to sleep and he loved it when we’d rub his little belly. Squiggy was one spoiled iguana.
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 […]