Saturday, November 04, 2006


Another Sunday Scribble, another Memory.

I reach into my secret place of memorable mornings. The morning after giving birth to my daughter, the morning I woke up an honest woman, the morning I awoke a college student in a dorm room in Murray Kentucky, the morning I was driving up US 119 into the Smoky Mountains and the golden sun light dancing through the canopy of trees gave everything the most surreal brilliant glow that it stays in my mind like a magnificent masterpiece.

Perhaps the most dramatic was a morning in Cancun last October. I was not certain if that morning would ever arrive.

My husband and I were vacationing in Mexico when hurricane Wilma arrived. When I use the word, dramatic, I do not use it lightly. We were herded into a shelter the day before the storm was to arrive. The next afternoon, the roof began to lift off, not being able to withstand the growing fury of the wind.

I had a heavy feeling of doom. Panic was rising from my stomach and making its way to my mind as I watched the roof lift and fall showing us the violence in the sky. 2500 of us were evacuated as quickly as possible to seek out other shelters before the storm reached land.

Approximately 25 of us boarded a bus and headed into the storm. We were let off at a school in the heart of Cancun and we ran, being pursued by the trees beginning to loose root, and the 100 miles per hour rain and wind battering us.

We landed in a room with the random selection of 25 other soaked and scared souls. We became close family for the next five days.

We locked ourselves in and waited for Wilma to hit. It was 6pm.

Wilma began her assault on Cancun at 7. The sky turned black and the wind became an unrelenting roar that did not cease for the next 12 hours.

I prayed all night. I used my fingers as rosary beads. We were in pitch black, hearing only the sounds of breathing and the murmur of pray, and the soft offerings of assurance to those most frightened. Evil sounds swirled around the outside. Trees flying into the building, metal sheets disengaged from the shacks surrounding us slammed into the sides of the school, the occasional wailing of an animal, and the most horrifying of all, the sounds of humans still out there.

No one slept. We waited. Waited for it to pass or swallow us.

As morning approached, the wind began to calm. The rain no longer beat against the walls forcing her way into the small room through the wooden slat windows.

A total calm arrived in time.

Morning broke.

And we ventured outside to see what remained. The whole area was under water, the trees tossed about like rag dolls, Stunned local folk came to the school, tentatively at first, then as friends bearing what food they could offer and the little information available.

It was the eye of the storm.

And in time we were forced back into the room for a second siege of Wilma. She was smitten with Cancun and spent another night making violent overtures to her.

We all knew we would survive to see the next morning.


Ali la Loca said...

How terrifying! The power of nature is something else. You did a great job of recreating what it felt like to be at her mercy.

Cynthia said...

You are such a good writer. This piece was incredible.

Donna said...

How well I recall your series of entries on AOL back then. Amazing!

Robbie said...

I got chills reading this. I don't remember you writing this side of things when you did your original entries. This one has a vulnerability to it. Very wonderfully done!

Robbie said...

P.S. I love the picture in your title bar. Perfect!

Paul said...

When I saw the new logo, I started having flashbacks. We booked Cancun for early February. I remember the whole hurricane series vividly.

AnnieElf said...

That was indeed terrifying. A co-worker of mine was stranded in Cancun as well. They could not get out for 10 days. And it wasn't like didn't try to leave beforehand. They simply could not get out. Definitely not a repeatable morning.

Wenda said...

So glad you survived to tell this tale ... and so well told, too. I was faint by the end from holding my breath.

Lisa :-] said...

This description of the night in Cancun was so vivid, I could not only see the violence of the weather, I could feel your dread.

Joe said...

Our Memories of Wilma...

Hurricane Wilma
26 October 2005
Dallas, TX

Dysentery, vomit, sleeping with 1550 of our closest friends, betting on when ceiling tiles would fall, water coming in from the roof and walls, people lining up for the one shower we were allowed to take...all 7.5 minutes of it, hearing building parts being ripped from the building which is a shelter, stoic faces, silent crying, rosary saying, the actual smell of anxiety and fear, leaving suitcases behind, seeing people in clothing stained with feces and urine, clothing that is taken off and discarded rather than taken home to be washed, laughing as hard and loud as you can, giggling like school kids, newly weds stealing kisses when no-one was looking, meeting the nicest people in the world, sharing toothpaste and floss, listening to people ask when the military (the US military) was going to invade Mexico to save US citizens, playing a 6 hour round of cards, imagining you were home, watching people fight for a place in line, no communication to the outside world and wondering what happened out there, hearing nothing when the eye passed, no air conditioning, lighting so low that it was difficult to see, lighting so bright that it was difficult to sleep, people sharing their last cigarette, pieces of gum, breath mints, seeing a man help a downs syndrome child cross the rainy 50mph winded path so the boy could shower, giving up your dignity, your sense of time and days, coughing, snoring, wheezing, watching a woman in a wheel chair being pushed by her best friend to the food line, planning the day to count cots, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, just to have something to do, begging the staff for peanut butter for breakfast, telling things to people that you would never tell to your lover or husband or wife, listening to people cry on each others shoulders, cot neighbors sneaking out of the shelter at 5:30 am to get a ride to Tulum 50 miles south to call their families to ask if a flights can be arranged from Merida, the 6.5 hour away closest city, paying a cab driver $800 to drive you there, getting to the airport at 5:30 PM so you can get in line before others do at 4:00 am, giving a man and his family the cleanest of your dirty clothes as he, his wife and 3 children were told to keep their suitcases in their room which the contents are now floating in the Caribbean, watching the flight crew from a Continental Airliner step off the plane, stepback from the smell of refugees who last showered on Thursday or maybe if they were lucky Saturday night, learn that the only American carrier to shuttle refugees back to the USA was Continental, landing in Houston, relief that you were back in the USA, taking pictures of a sign that said Dallas - Love (Field), phone mail with 25 messages from friends pleading with you to PLEASE call and let us know you are all right, getting e-mail messages from the people with whom you traveled across the Mexican jungle that they were home as well, sleeping for the first time in 120 hours.
And never once was there a doubt that we'd go back.

A.Roberson said...

What an amazing story! After seeing that you hadn't updated in a while, I thought you were just busy with your husband and child....I had NO Idea!!!, but we're all glad you're ok.

LOVE the new logo!!

Rock on Hippie ;-)

Anonymous said...

Nicely written. I felt like I was there with you. Glad I wasn't...

yank said...

A fantastic blog. Keep it up.
just visiting my site
Parisj Van Java
Anti Virus Protection
New Anti Virus
Anti Virus Info an Virus Remover
Brontok Information
Make Money Online

Nelle said...

I remember eagerly awaiting your next installment when you wrote your entries at the time. I have to tell you that I simply LOVE your picture on the top of your journal. Is that something you made yourself? The license plate on the car is a great touch.

Anonymous said...

I can hardly imagine what it was really like for you, but you made me feel like I was right there - what a good piece of storytelling this is. Glad you made it home safe!

Kay said...

A great retelling. It was very real. I love the last line.

tracifish said...

I love your writing...and the photograph.