Front Row View Of Wilma
Oct 20th, 2005, 8:56pm
At around noon yesterday, Wednesday 19, October 2005, Wilma’s petticoat began brushing the coastline of the Mexican Yucatan like a Flamenco dancer of old Spain. Sha has danced around in spirals in the south Caribbe for three days. Not tiring, but gaining strength from the hot waters flowing at her tight center. Still no one knows where she will thrust her first full fury first.
All meteorologists have turned their focus of their forecasts as far away as the New England coast. I suppose because they are befuddled by this most powerful woman known as Wilma. “I have lost all confidence in all forecast tracks. . .” one meteorologist stated in his discussion of this category five hurricane. Wilma refuses to stay within the lines of both time and direction laid out for her by scores of meteorologists and their computers.
Normally, at night, I am lulled to sleep by a gentle rumble of the barrier reef eight hundred meters in front of this house. All afternoon and through last night’s moonlit sea, it seemed the reef rolled to my front door every minute or two; crashing with the sound of a giant mop bucket full of dirty water being discarded forcefully onto the sand. Only when there is a monster out there not so very far away does this ever happen. So I sit, watching the flotsam and jetsam arrive with the waves through this bright night punctuated by coconuts thudding with a melodic hollow sound as they are wrestled from their nests by the increasing northwesterly breezes turning to hard winds with little screams through the fronds.
A barely waning full moon relinquished its responsibility of providing light to the sea and the sky which briefly swapped colors before turquoise glowed near the horizon with sand browned muddy waters reaching to tarnish the morning view. Where the sky usually meets the Caribbe with the thin white line of sea foam from the halting of waves on coral, a continuous stripe of white twenty times larger than most times widens even more like a long geyser splashing into the black, dark blue and grey striped sky. As the darkest parts roll in like a cloud from a movie’s slow explosion, clarity vanishes while Wilma seemingly weeps in banded torrents. Sipping coffee and watching the show, “This is not going to be a Chamber of Commerce day!” I realize.
The fridge clicks on only momentarily and stops dead. Three days of clouds and a fried generator makes a day not so shocking for a guy living on solar when the batteries get drained. Since the generator died, I have been trying to consume everything in it and freezing purified water in its place. I think it can remain out of service for a while now so it is unplugged. I sit and write this on paper waiting for enough sun to check the status of Wilma on the computer.
When last I checked, yesterday, I figured I had until at least this afternoon to decide whether to flee or stay. Though the sea is now at my back door and I am now on an island, I’d still prefer to stay. With the midday sun peaking at my panels a bit I will post this and more later on a brighter day.
From the last gringo on the east coast of México and the first gringo in Mexico to glimpse Wilma, I wish all who may have the displeasure to know her also, Good Luck and God Bless!
Part 2 of A Front Row View Of Wilma
Oct 21st, 2005, 10:43pm
Two thirty PM, Thursday, 20 October, 2005, after a brief break in the bands, the batteries made a little headway. I had been in such a hurry to post part one of my report from my hen scratch on paper, I plumb forgot to see how close Wilma was. I am not a smart man; as evidenced by where I am and when. Stupid is as stupid does. And judging from the water surrounding this house, life is a box of chocolates and all mine got wet! So, I fire up the ‘ole ‘puter again and I now have a pretty good idea of what I’m gonna get.
That she devil called Wilma is now one hundred and fifty six miles away from me. Her “eye” is. Forecasters project she will move even closer over the next twelve hours. Should they accidentally be correct for the first time where Wilma is concerned, I would experience the worst she would present me with, around two tomorrow morning (Friday) when she would only approach within one hundred and twenty three miles of here.. I was comforted by their guess that I would only get the “clean” side of her. So to me, here, Wilma would only be the equivalent of a tropical storm, according to them. This place is built well originally out of cement and block. It has already survived both Mitch and Keith. So, I decide to pull up a chair, watch from my front row seat, write by candle light, and have a date with Wilma – our own private little hurricane party.
I have an unopened bottle of Corralejo, gin, rum, natural syrup, fresh pineapples, limes, and tons of coconuts everywhere! I may be stupid, but I’m not crazy – yet! Where I live, the above, combined properly with a little ice and poured back into a coconut spells, Coco Locos! I even have a hand crank blender for just these kind of situations. Write first, drink later; it always seems to come out better in that order. So I shuck a few cocos and put ‘em on ice in the freezer. Honestly, I do not drink much other than coffee or tea. I enjoy writing more. It costs less and I feel lots better in the morning. But, for tonight, I think it a good thing to be prepared. I digress – back to the **.
Wilma’s rotten breath is now directly out of the west, gusting between forty and fifty miles per hour. Often, my coconut trees, many thirty to forty feet tall, bow from their center as if in reverence to the power of the approaching hurricane. As rapidly as the gale force winds arrive, they leave allowing the tall palms to stand erect once again. A rolling rumble escapes the reef and rustles toward their feet as if rinsing them in thanks for their respect.
It began to occur to me how relatively little rain Wilma had dropped here at about four in the afternoon. Excepting a brief hour of bright sun, the clouds, seemingly so laden with water, they were a greenish black as they arced toward somewhere distant in the Caribbe interlaced with grayed white cumulous puffs between the darker bands. Debris started flowing back toward where it had come. Once again, the beach appeared, only now covered by webs of fine coconut palm roots stripped naked by erosion.
Toro, my bull terrier puppy born six months ago this Sunday in, of all places - New Orleans, and I stepped out to survey our surroundings in the gentle breeze from the west. Chards of coral reef and marine life lay trapped among the tiny exposed web like roots as if waiting for an arachnid to consume them. Toro found a flipping mullet and made a meal of oily sushi out of it. I spotted a huge black barrel sponge resembling a cartoon’s airplane tire. It had almost washed into the jungle. Attached to its bottom was various lengths of Elkhorn coral, some almost an inch and a half thick where it had been snapped off like dried twigs. Wilma has been raping the reef!
Part 3 A Front Row View Of Wilma
Oct 21st, 2005, 10:44pm
“Boom” I hear. Quickly turning to the direction from whence the loud noise came, I see a very tall plume of white reaching high into a black cloud. A pounding of kettle drums ensued slowly rising to a crescendo. Stunned, I watch four walls of water capped in white approaching. Calling Toro, for once he obeyed, we ran to the house, shut the front glass sliding door and ran upstairs to peer out a window up there. With four loud swooshes followed by almost twinkling swishes, water came within inches of entering my house; the floor of which is three feet above the sand. I estimate they were nearly five feet high before hitting the beach. On an island again, I am.
That was the largest set of waves I had ever seen here. Luckily, there were no more of any great size to arrive. By five PM, sheets of rain flowing almost horizontally sent me scurrying about the house with a mop. Smaller waves rolled in occasionally against the wind and by dusk the tide appeared at its highest at about three feet above normal.
Twilight glowed the Caribbean azure to the east and fuchsia polka dots spotted the green clouds in the west. Wilma certainly is a very bad Mexican artist. Darkness washes the scene into blackness. The moon will not show for hours to come. No stars, no fireflies – pitch dark black.
Loss of any of the seven senses always seems to amplify at least one of the others. Knowing from experience, when sight vanishes, my hearing becomes acute as well as my sixth sense I call my mystical. Others refer to it as ESP. My seventh, and most favorite, sense seems enormously enhanced also – imagination. One’s mind’s eye permits travel to distant places and times, somehow connected, but removed from a present state of affairs.
With my bad eyes, I see flashes toward Wilma; briefly brightening blackness of this momentarily windless time. Boom, Boom! Volleys are exchanged. Crashes and splashes follow as buccaneers board their lifeboats after dropping them into the Caribbe. Multiple oars dipping, drawing and dripping while the pirates’ chains and scabbards rattle on their way to the Maya coast. Skiffs scrape on the sandy beach and instantly pouncing feet hit the water’s edge. Sabers slowly are drawn in a metallic slide while boots slosh to shore. Not a word is spoken as swords test their sharpness, slashing the air in whipping swishes. Even the ghosts are fleeing Wilma.
Swishes become whistles singing a high pitched drawn out boo. Buckets was the west wall repeatedly pounding, Wilma moans in evil ecstasy before playing a pipe organ; not knowing which keys or chords blend to make music in the night. I make that Coco Loco and allow it to do what a strong drink does to me. I dream, asleep.
For the past forty days and forty nights, I have been dreaming and madly writing, on paper, a book titled, Darts. I plan to put it on Portillas.com as soon as I can. It has been an incredible continuous process I have never before experienced. I awake from my badly needed slumber at midnight. For the first time since I first dreamt of Darts on 11 September, 2005, I dreamed of pirates and evil wenches instead of terrorists; not exactly a relief.
It was what I now know was my Wi-Fi antenna atop my fifty foot tower crashing against the wall that woke me. Strong winds and rain pattered in waves as the dish antenna clattered dangling by its cable against the side of the house. A little line and a couple quick bowlines secured it where it hung six foot off the spongy ground by its cable in the moonlight. Mañana, it’s good enough for me.
By two AM Friday, 21 October, 2005, when the forecasters had predicted Wilma and I would be the closest, nothing had really changed. Gusts out of the west still came and went. Waves, possibly a little less frequent, rolled in and crashed on shore. Rain in both sprinkles and torrents started, fell and stopped. And Toro slept on my foot as I write by candlelight, sipping coffee; now with a splash of Kahluha, not knowing for sure what that wench, Wilma was doing.
At around noon, two full days after Wilma first began beating on the Costa Maya, the gusts seem to be lessened and now blow out of the southwest. I feel we dodged a grenade but, shrapnel wounds are abundant. Toro and I are safe and unharmed. I expect to suffer more from the cleanup. I suspect the mañana syndrome will limit my muscle aches.
My prayers are now that others will be, at minimum, as lucky as I was. Amen.