Monday, September 3, 2007

Tengo miedo

As you can probably imagine, we’re watching Felix pretty closely. And, we are a little scared. We were glad to see that the forecast was a little better this morning than it was when we went to bed last night, but the fact that it can change that drastically overnight means that it can change pretty drastically between now and when it makes landfall, which is sometime tomorrow morning for Nicaragua and Honduras, and sometime on Wednesday for Belize and Guatemala. Right now the best-case scenario is that it dips a little south and loses strength passing over unpopulated marshland in Honduras, but it’s still too early to tell exactly what it will do, and none of the scenarios are really any good. It would be better if it made landfall as a Cat 2 instead of a Cat 5 – but a Cat 2 is still a potentially damaging hurricane and must be taken seriously.

So, we’re getting ready. We’re doing things like taking all the water out of the 200 gallon tank on the stand over the house and bringing it down, just in case we get winds strong enough to blow a partially filled 200 gallon tank off its stand and into our cabin via the roof. We're also taking strips of cloth and writing our name and address on them with Sharpies so we can attach them to the horse's halters, since we're told the best thing for the horses is to leave them out and let them find their own safe place, with the knowledge that their safe place may not be in our pasture. We don’t know how high the winds will be here, and we don’t have any concept of how powerful hurricane force winds can be and what they can do. That’s really the worst of it for us. Getting ready is like getting ready for a blizzard in the Northeast, but after more than 25 years in Upstate New York, we knew what to expect from a blizzard and what we had to do to prepare. Here, we just don’t know.

We do know that the country of Belize is taking this threat very seriously. As of this morning, the government has started a mandatory evacuation of the cayes and coastal areas. Schools and government offices are closed from now until Felix passes so that people can do whatever they need to do to prepare themselves, and the government workers can help with the country’s preparation efforts. Tom went into San Ignacio this morning to pick up some supplies, and he said that the lines are out the door at the banks and some of the stores, and just about everything is scheduled to close by the end of today.

Hector and Marixa from next door came over to talk to me this morning, and the conversation Hector and I had pretty much sums up how we’re all feeling. Hector said “Tengo miedo.” I said “Tengo miedo tambien.”

“Miedo” is fear or dread, and I just learned the word last week when I was talking to Marta, Hector’s mother, about why I don’t like to drive here. I told her that I was afraid I’d hit somebody walking or cycling or riding a horse along the road, and she explained that if you are afraid, you say in Spanish “Tengo miedo,” or “I have fear.”

Hector has fear, and I do too, and the fear of Felix is much more intense than the things I’m afraid of when driving around here, which are at least known fears.

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