My day started at 5 am, hardware store in
busy Coxen Hole to open at 6:30, we were the first in a long line. Everyone was
jovial & friendly until owner Deborah, opened the door. Then it was a
scuffle to be at the head of the line. First news, no more thick plywood, only
3/16" left & not much of that, little more than cardboard strength. Even
though we were first, we could not get our order in. Shoved & pushed,
anarchy was brewing. Finally, we asked for 40 sheets of 3/16" plywood for our
house, our West Bay Beach jewelry store & our neighbor merchants in the
mall. Deborah politely told us she had to spread out what she had left, among
all of us there. We got 20 sheets.
Tony quickly grabbed a few pounds of
concrete & wood screws & I found tape to hold together shattered
windows & large rolls of 55 gallon black plastic trash bags. We rushed to
get our van loaded in a sea of confusion & commotion. Traffic on a one lane
street, filled with large trucks in both directions was a quagmire of
frustration & mounting tempers. No one could move in either direction for a
very long time, until a polite young employee stopped traffic & untangled
the knot of frantic vehicles. A friend who has lived here for 11 years asked me
"Why is it so organized, why are you all preparing so early? We waited
until the last minute in Andrew & it certainly wasn't like this chaos."
I thought alot about that today & could
only conclude, with hundreds of baby boomers building retirement & vacation
homes here, maybe it is because gringos expect to protect what they have &
are used to going to Home Depot for whatever they might desire & obtain
these supplies instantly. Roatan is in bulldozer stage and expectations are
changing quickly regarding demands for service and
After price gouging, we were able to hire a
young man & his crew to board up our house and our store for a very
reasonable price. In the meantime, we had to prepare for a Cat 5 which meant our
little home by the sea would be totally destroyed without question. What to do.
We then discover, I left the bag of screws & bolts on the hardware
store counter while paying for them, leaving the store in a
We have packed to live in our store.
Once the roof comes off our house we have to exist somewhere. Owning the only
high end, fine jewelry store on Roatan, we have to prepare for break ins
& looting. We would live in the store, with bathroom, water & generator,
until fuel ran out. We began packing in 55 gallon black plastic garbage
bags; food, clothing, soap, shampoo, towels, toilet paper, bug repellent,
charcoal, barbeque, 100 lbs of dogfood, catfood, parrot food, first aid,
power tools....all in a tiny store jam packed with inventory. Then we add the 3
giant dogs, 2 big cats & 2 bossy parrots & all their necessary
supplies.....quite a list to accomplish. It will be a long day & a longer
At 8:30, I had to head back down to the
Coxen Hole bank for Lempiras, worried about using up all our gasoline. We might
not have banking facilities for weeks, it will all be cash from here on out. As
I left, I stepped out on our deck and watched the choppy sea, feeling the strong
cool breeze. I will not take down the 5 hummingbird feeders until the last
minute, as they all seem in a feeding frenzy. I looked down & noticed that
one of our chatter trees (like apple bananas) was ready to fall over in
full harvest, so grabbed my trusty machete & chopped down the large banana
stalk, stringing it up on the deck. We will all enjoy the potassium loaded fruit
in the challenging days to come, humans & birds
Driving along the mountainous West Bay
Road, there are thousands of big, midnight blue butterflies flitting everywhere.
They, along with the kamikaze hummingbirds all seem determined to live inside
our house with us, sensing bad weather coming.
As I drive into town, there are trucks
everywhere heading somewhere with great purpose. The gas station must have 30
vehicles blocking the road, many city trucks, perhaps a bit
I am amazed to see all the tiendas
are open for business. Stuck in a traffic jam on a narrow street, I watch a
young man opening up for the day, hanging brightly colored piñatas outside,
their gay shapes spinning in the brisk, cool breeze. As I slowly proceed
through town, I see many islanders, all dressed up, carrying suitcases &
bags of belongings preparing to leave for the mainland. The town is a buzz of
laughter, excitement, anticipation, no one looks worried or scared and all
appear to have a cell phone permanently attached to their ear.
Honduras has issued a mandatory evacuation
of all island tourists. We don't hear any planes. We are also promised many
airbuses to carry Roatan residents to the safety of the mainland for free. Where
are the planes? Many flock to the airport & are put on a waiting list. We
wish we could leave our lives here behind.
I pass one of two banks with hundreds of
people standing in long lines down the block, waiting to cash paychecks so they
can prepare for the storm. It is overwhelming. Once through the bank, armed with
cash, I leave town, avoiding the hardware store nightmare, on a mission: Tony
must have a case of Salva Vita Beer..."Save our Souls". The beer lady informs me
we are still at Cat 5. I can't believe the bad news & drive
It absolutely amazes me that some gringos
have not prepared at all, accusing us of "over preparing." They are the same
ones asking us if we have any extra plywood & will no doubt expect us
to share our food & supplies that we conscientiously stocked up on. These
people who now mock us, "Rely on the kindness of others." This ain't no
Streetcar, Blanche. We will gladly go out of our way & help anyone in need,
but not due to procrastination or laziness.
We continue to garbage bag &
seal all our clothes, shoes, all the art, food supplies, in hopes that they
won't be destroyed. TV, electronics, the Packet 8 phone system, bedding, pillows
all get sealed in plastic. But if the house is gone, what is the
Someone on our daily chatline,
contemplating living here, has been whining about how horrible it is we
have tarantulas. My Reply: Stay Home, that's the least of our concerns here. The
tarantulas were here first.
I had been so smart, I thought,
before moving to Roatan, I knew the lifetime collection of photos &
newspaper articles of our families could never survive the steamy tropics &
thousands of photos would soon disintegrate into slimy muck. So we took every
photo & memento, put them into collages, photographed and copied
everything to cd's in an 8 day, 12 hour marathon, back in Colorado, preparing
for our delightful, island adventure. Now, dumping all the cd's into a garbage
bag, I wonder where in the world they might end up, important to no one but us.
Several hundred treasured books on shelves, now look like projectiles to me.
They get bagged as well. It is hot & oppressive on ladders. We are dizzy
& tremble. We have had no power since 5 am. It turns out a taxi ran into a
power pole, knocking down lines, so on top of everything else bearing down on
us, this is the reason for no power before the hurricane.
Once the storm approaches the power will be
turned off to protect us from downed, live electrical lines. Would have been
nice to have a little electricity to prepare, if only for lights & a
I am absolutely incredulous to receive
dozens of well wishes and prayers from other hurricane
correspondents, store customers and total strangers from all over the
Caribbean, the states & remote areas of Canada. I rarely cry unless I laugh
too hard, which is often. Your emails have brought me to tears. I am filled with
so much gratitude, that strangers would reach out to us on this tiny island. It
has renewed my faith in human kind & is quite
In sending out my postings, a family member
told me there was no danger according to msn.com, that we would be "just
fine".... with a cat 5 staring me in the face. I was advised by several friends
that the USA rarely does any news on us here in Central America, or
Honduras, wherever that is.
We got a call tonite from a dear friend who
did tell us that the Roatan Airport was on NBC News! So maybe we are now famous,
who knows. They looked for us on TV, hoping that we got evacuated to the
mainland, but knowing full well we cannot leave our jewelry store, home,
nor our 7 pets behind, most of which are rescues & adoptions. Can't very
well save their lives, heal their terrible wounds, nurture them & then dump
them, now can we?
The young men arrived to board up our store
& then our home, late this afternoon. They did a fine job. I did not realize
that we would now be living in a hot, dark, airless home, safe but
unbearable, just when the cool breeze is picking up nicely. But, we are safe.
All the workers' commotion in the house had
the parrots very unnerved, huddling & shoving at each other. Chaquita
& Mango's favorite song in the world is "Old Macdonald Had A
Duck." After we loudly sang & quacked for a while, all was well &
relieved, they happily devoured 4 bananas.
We now have received wonderful news. The
hurricane has turned slightly south & should now strike the mainland &
move along the Honduran coast. Once the hurricane force winds come over the
mountains, the category of storm should drop. We pray for our dear friends on
the mainland. We are not out of the woods by any means, but now, we may not lose
It has been a most exhausting, anxious day.
We shall see what the morning brings. Again, thank you all, from the bottom of
my heart for your prayers, wishes & positive thoughts. When I see you again,
or if I have the pleasure of meeting you for the first time, I have many big
hugs waiting. You all have made me strong, calm & we all will persevere here
on Roatan, thanx to all of your kind thoughts and
Until the morning,
Sand Castles Interior Design
Island Emporium, West Bay Beach
away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.