WAITING FOR RINA
Tuesday, October 25
On Tuesday morning, Janeen (who lives upstairs) came down and said, “I don’t mean to freak you guys out, but we should probably do some hurricane errands.”
And so off we went, into town. Gassed up the moto, bought several reserve tanks of water, pulled money out of the bank, picked up cell phone cards, bought a robust supply of frijoles, elotes and other canned goods. The line at the Pemex ran out the station and down the road. People seemed subdued, but most locals went about their business as usual. Plywood started to appear over windows, doors, more and more of it cropping up in the colonias as the day went on. On the east side of the island, the ocean beat hard against the coast and the horizon to the southeast blurred ominously, a blue-grey line behind the rains.
At home, we pulled out all our compression sacks and readied them to hold our laptops and electronics to keep the humidity at bay. We charged up every device we owned and even ran down batteries to give them the freshest charge possible. We collected our laundry from the lavanderia, at least we would have clean clothes for the storm! Our kitchen counter filled up with ponchos, rain gear, lanterns, flashlights, candles, everything lined up and in its place.
Steve had been in Honduras for a week and arrived home that night to a big welcome. A storm aficionado, he exclaimed as he walked in the door, “I’m just in time!” (For Rina, of course.)
Over a bottle of wine, the air thick with even more humidity than usual, we discussed what was to come. We found ourselves preparing to be hot, stuffy, wet, possibly without power or light, maybe even—bored, depending on how long the storm decided to hover. Mentally, we readied ourselves for the challenge of sitting inside indefinitely, once the house was shuttered and boarded. It would be dark much of the time. The air would be humid, stagnant, stale. It would be difficult to sleep, cook, rest or fight listlessness. Steve and Janeen warned us about the disconcerting sounds made by the hurricane winds—when everything from bicycles to trees to metal roofs fly through the air at top speed, catapulting and crashing down with incredible force, as if a giant, angry, unseen animal is attacking the house from all sides.
Wednesday, October 26
The next day, we awoke to a symphony of clanging, banging and the whizzzzzzz of power drills. Pepe and Steve were installing a new metal door on the roof and installed metal storm shutters on all the windows. These measures would be shored up further with plywood, closer to the storm. Steve also rigged up a secure system to tie down the water tank on the roof and began to clear the property of outdoor furniture, anything that could become a projectile in high winds. From our vantage point on the roof, we watched neighbors in all directions hammer plywood sheets of various shapes and sizes over windows, doors, any random holes. Even the usual collection of toys and bicycles had been cleared off of the roofs (often a play spot for kids). The rain really started coming down in sheets around mid-day.
We had all been planning a joint work trip to Merida over the weekend that we assumed we would have to abandon. However, Steve came down at about noon to report that Rina was weakening and would probably be lessening to Tropical Storm status within a day. After a short discussion around 1 PM, we decided that the three of us (Janeen, Tor and I) would depart early for Merida in the afternoon and Steve would stay back to see to any final boarding up and house issues, with a plan to join us on Friday.
Thursday, October 27
Steve reported via text over Thursday that the rains and 50 mph winds that did hit Isla were intense, noisy and no fun. Thankfully, they did not even come close to rivaling Wilma’s handiwork, which had kept he and Janeen sequestered in our house for three excruciating days in 2005. There was some minor water damage to the house from Rina that kept him hopping, but he was well-prepared, and even dog-tired, handled the issues with finesse.
Friday, October 28
So, here we sit in Merida, having eaten ceviche for lunch, with our laptops spread out on a table next to a waterfall pool in a lovely house near the plaza. Do we feel bad for Steve, kept awake by howling winds, sopping up water and patching odd holes? Immensely. Will we have a cold beer (or three) waiting for him on arrival? Absolutely.
The final advisory Tweeted by The Weather Channel today at 5:09 PM CT: “Moisture will soak parts of Florida this weekend.” Looks like we will make it through this year’s “Storm Season” safe and sound. Technically it’s over on November 1st, pending nature’s whim, of course.