Monday, August 20, 2007

We THINK we’re ready for Dean…

Although how can we really know, since we haven’t ever been this close to a real hurricane before? We do know that we’re in nowhere near as much danger as those living on or near the coast. And, Tom and Selwyn are in the process of putting a few extra nails in our new zinc roofs, since we do expect a lot of rain and high winds no matter where along the coast Dean hits. We also took our stored things out of the doorless and windowless second cabin and shut them in the camper, where they should stay relatively dry no matter what happens. We’re not near any major rivers or other bodies of water, so we’re not anticipating any flooding, and while we are on a hill, it is well forested so mudslides shouldn’t be a danger. We don’t have electricity anyway, so we’re not worried about the impact of losing power, and we’re in the process of filling our two 1000 gallon water tanks so if the pipe water from the rivers in the mountains gets muddy, we’ll have a couple of thousand gallons of clear water to keep us going until the natural water sources are back to normal.

Until yesterday afternoon we had no worries at all. Then, we took a Sunday walk to visit our neighbors. Damion and Olmi weren’t too worried. Marta and Julian weren’t too worried. Then we stopped by at Maria’s house, and she told us that she’s worried about the wind blowing one of our big trees onto our cabin. But, there’s not much we can do about that, so we’re hoping we’ll sleep through the worst of it, which should be late tonight or early tomorrow morning, and wake up to lots of mud but no major damage tomorrow morning. If anybody can think of anything else we should worry about, let me know…

All I can say about what it’s like here right now is that it’s an identical feeling to that of upstate NY preparing for a major snowstorm. Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day, with crystal clear blue skies, a very pleasant light cooling breeze, and virtually no humidity. Up here in the Pine Ridge, people aren’t too tuned into the media, so while most people we talked to knew that a major hurricane was steaming across the Caribbean, nobody was thinking too much about it. We took our Sunday walk to the neighbors’ with the purpose of making sure Marta Dos still wanted to go to Belmopan with us today, since we needed to get our passports stamped and she wants to apply for a Belizean passport. We stopped to chat with Damion and Olmi on the way over, where we talked about Damion fixing his truck brakes, about the pig the family butchered on Saturday night, how everybody was going to cook the pig, Olmi’s new linoleum, and other minor neighborly things. While we were there, Daisy ran to Maria’s to get us some of the deep fried crackled pig skin to taste (yummy, even though we know it’s virtually poison to our hearts), then the ice cream truck drove by so we ate ice cream, then Maria sent a bag of uncooked pork over for Tom and me. Then we went over to Marta and Julian’s house, where we worked on our Spanish and they worked on their English, and then Marta gave us some of the pork she’d fried up with corn tortillas. Yummy again. Then we wandered up the hill to thank Maria for the bag of raw pork, chatted for a while, started worrying about our trees, and then we came home. I didn’t even cook the pork because we didn’t really need dinner after grazing our way through the neighborhood. The neighbors were much more interested in the recently butchered pig than they were in the hurricane.

This morning, we got online to check Dean’s progress, then picked up Marta, Marixa, and George, and headed off to Belmopan. On the way down the road towards Georgeville, we saw a jaguarondi and a big black snake. We sometimes see wildlife on that road, but we’ve never before seen a jaguarondi, and we don’t usually see two different kinds of animals, which made us wonder if the animals are a little more active right now doing whatever animals do to get ready for a big storm. As we got closer to Belmopan, we noticed that there were lines for gas at every gas station. We got to Belmopan and found a sign on the door of the Immigration office saying they were closed until further notice. When we asked why, we were told that all government offices were closed in preparation for the hurricane. So, we went to the market, which was doing business as usual. We also made a stop at Builders’ Supply, which was very busy, which we expected by that point, and then headed out to the Six Flags grocery store in Unitedville, which was a little busy, but nothing like Belmopan. On the way home, we listened to the radio, which was a series of announcements about what people should do to prepare for the storm, where they could go if they lived near the coast, and what stores were remaining open until the end of the day so people could get supplies. On the way back up the Georgeville Road we saw a big iguana, which brought the tally of animals seen on the road that day to three, which is a record for us and which made us wonder even more how the animals seem to know when bad weather is coming.

Now we just wait and see what happens. We don’t have a barn for the horses, although we’ve been told that they’re better off turned out in a big storm. The dogs will stay in the house with us as usual, probably making us crazy with their muddy paws. Right now (2:45pm Central America Time, which is two hours earlier than EDT) the sun is still shining through high clouds, and it isn’t at all windy. The most up to date report from the weather service is that it should hit Chetumal, which is right on the Mexico/Belize border (a little over 100 miles as the crow flies northeast of here) shortly after midnight, so with the size of the storm it should start to cloud up here before dark. I’ll try to update the blog tomorrow and let everybody know how we are, although if I don’t, consider no news good news, and imagine us trying to get the satellite dish reinstalled on our roof!

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