20 August 2007

Dean/Life in the Caribbean

Hurricane Dean is plowing through the Caribbean. With each place it goes, I think, what would it be like if I was living there? This is not idyll conjecture as we are seriously thinking about retiring to the Caribbean.

I've never experienced a Category 5, 4 or even 3 hurricane. I doubt I've had a Category 2 to contend with. We've had a few hurricanes here (remember Agnes back in the 70s?) but not so's you'd notice. More like the "Tropical Wave", Chantal, that hit St. Lucia when we were there in 2001. Steady rain but not much else. Not 150 mile per hour winds. Not mudslides and devastating floods. Not in this part of the country.

It begs several questions:
Can we get out of harm's way, say, 25 days of the year in exchange for living in paradise the other 340 days a year?
How far is far enough away?
Can I get to such a level of detachment with my possessions that it wouldn't matter if all my stuff was wiped out (talk about making a Buddhist proud...)?
Can I have enough water and canned foods to survive a while if need be? Generator? Batteries and radio?
Do people really use those new "hurricane proof" awnings? Can we afford it? If we're the only ones in the building with it do we have to worry about the rest of the building collapsing? Do we invite everyone in the building to hunker down behind our awnings?
Do we want to go 17 days without running water, as they did in Cozumel after Wilma?
Can we join/forge community wherever we are such that we are not alone in our efforts? Me thinks, community takes on a whole new meaning in this kind of situation.

On the other hand, I've lived through ice storms and blizzards and wind shears and terrible thunderstorms and heat waves. I've gone days without electricity or running water. It wasn't pleasant but I did it. I have to admit there's a certain pride in surviving hardship and a new appreciation for the elemental things we take for granted (flushing toilets, heat in January, etc.) and the power of nature. And then there are those other 340 days where my view isn't so lovely here as it would be in the Caribbean.

And really, how much stuff do I need? I read in a novel recently "Every thing you have will either be used up, given away or belong to someone else one day." It's true. It's a depressing thought but it's true. So if all we have is each other and the experience of the moment, let's revel in each other and the experience of the moment. Even when the hurricane's a blowin'.

I hope Dean's impact is minimal and that my friends and associates in the Caribbean are safe and sound.

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