The heat is like none I have ever experienced before anywhere in the world. Not even in the market in Port Louis, Mauritius when I thought I was actually going to melt. This is a heat that surrounds and encloses you; makes you feel as if you’re in a tiny cell with walls of heat pressing in on you. And it’s been like this for several weeks and that apparently, is a sign.
The Fella tells me that the water is hot out on the reef and that’s another sign. And my friend Z’s mum says the signs have all been there all summer because it’s been the most prolific mango crop in years.
Signs? Yes, signs a hurricane is coming. Irma. Hurricane Irma. It’s hard to believe that like a maurauding Queen ahead of her mighty army with weapons whose power we can only imagine, she is slowly heading towards us, taking her time, leisurely, majestically, knowing that the longer she drags it out the greater our fear becomes.
Yet this morning, when I woke up at seven, it was such a gorgeous day. It was quiet, peaceful and still; truly the lull before the storm. It was so glorious it was hard to imagine what is lurking a thousand miles to the east of us and the havoc it can release.
Hurricanes are notoriously volatile and their trajectory difficult to predict. Irma is travelling slowly, which apparently enables her to gather strength and the wind shear that would deflate her is missing. Experts are saying that she could come straight at us or she could veer off to the north and miss us completely. But at the moment she is keeping steading, heading WSW, towards the Leeward Islands; towards Antigua.
I have never had the misfortune to experience a hurricane. The worst I’ve ever been in was a tropical storm here in 2008 but at that time I was in a resort and everything was taken care of. The Prime Minister, The Hon. Gaston Brown, has said we should prepare ourselves. What the hell does that mean? What am I supposed to do? Some friends have given me tips – most of which is common sense; get in loads of drinking water and unperishable foods; pack dry, clean clothes, towels and sheets in bin bags; put important documents in ziplock bags and place them in a safe, high place in the house; have a battery operated radio (oops, gave mine away as I’m leaving the island soon); candles and matches or hurricane lamps; a torch with batteries; first aid kit (plasters and some tea tree oil any good?); towels and mops and buckets handy for the clean up.
And so now we wait. It’s hard not to keep on checking online every half-hour to see if the bitch has veered off. But no; WSW is her course at the moment. And the wait is hard. First of all predictions were she’d hit/pass by Saturday into Sunday. Now, predictions are it will be Tuesday evening. Let’s hope that it doesn’t happen. I don’t wish her to veer away from us and strike some other poor people. I want her to go out over the Atlantic and burn herself out. Go north, Irma! Go north! I know that it’s Mother Nature doing her thing. But she needs to go and do it elsewhere.
My singles travellers, when informed of an indefinate flight delay used to say, somewhat dramatically I often though, “It’s the not-knowing.” Without being dramatic, I can agree that it certainly is.