Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wilma 20

Jax Bar and Restaurant

Today is Friday, October 28. I guess we are officially refuges of the storm now. This morning was another first in our lives. We stood in line at the Red Cross for an hour in the sweltering heat, waiting our turn to get a free handout. Of course, we were the only white faces among the crowd. No self respecting Gringo would be caught dead standing in a relief line here.

The Red Cross had come knocking at our door at 9:30 PM last night. We were all sound asleep and were awakened by shouting on our porch. With all the fears of looting and robbery, we were pretty well scared to answer the door. We peeked out the bedroom window, which looks onto the front porch, and saw several teenage boys and girls standing there in Red Cross shirts. We figured looters would not come onto the porch and loudly yell “Red Cross”. Or would they? We talked to them through the window for a bit and then ended up opening the door. They put our name on a list with how many people were in the household and then gave us a ticket to get the aforementioned handouts the next morning. We really did not have much interest in standing in line for stuff at the Red Cross. We figured that if they gave out anything good, we would just give it to our neighbors who are worse off than we are.

The appointed hour of 11 AM found us standing in line with a lot of our neighbors and a lot of familiar faces. Even though I had been successful in getting some gas for our scooter, B and I decided to walk over. We didn’t think it would look right if we showed up on a scooter, advertising that we could afford to have gas. Of course, everybody there had either driven their own scooter, been dropped off by a scooter or had arrived by taxi. So much for our sensitivity issues!

For our effort, we were given a bag that contained a bag of rice, two small bags of macaroni, a roll of toilet paper, one box of instant noodle dinner, where you add hot water and let it steep, and two boxes of corn starch! We had no idea why the corn starch, but we found out later that the locals make a pudding of sorts out of it. We also got three small bottles of water. We were also shown a box of Kotex and told that if there was a woman in our house, we could have one, just one. We declined, but I was left to wonder, what good would one Kotex be? I suppose better than nothing. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think that they are reversible so that one can use both sides.

Heading back home, we caught up with our neighbors. The same ones that we had given the free shrimp too. It was mother, daughter and 2 grandsons. They were struggling to carry the six bottles of water, three bags of food and the 10 month old baby. We offered to help carry their stuff for them, since we only had the one small bag of stuff. As we walked, we noticed groups of people forming on the street corners of the main road at the top of the hill. Our neighbor told us that President Fox was visiting the island and everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of him. She asked us if we wanted to stop and wait also, or drop off the stuff and come back to wait. B asked her, “Is he bringing electricity with him? Does he have water for everybody? No, he is just here to look good and see how bad things are.” They thought this was quite funny. They asked anybody who would listen the same questions. They were all of a sudden quite political!

As it turns out, this was the day that he made no friends on the island anyway. This was the day he announced his big plan to put sand back on the beaches of Cancun. There is absolutely no sand left over there at all. Most of it blew over here! The waterfront hotels are really waterfront now, actually having water inside their ground floors! He said he was pledging 250 million DOLLARS to rebuild the beaches! An astronomical amount of money. We can understand why he is willing to spend this kind of money on that project. Cancun is the largest money making tourist industry in the country. It generates an estimated 11 million dollars of revenue a day for the economy here. (source: Por Esto newspaper) Getting it back up and running was of the highest priority. Of course, the man and woman on the street do not understand this. They understand that they have no homes, no electricity, little food and no water. They think these are more urgent and important needs than sand!

UPDATE: Two dredging boats were brought in and did, after four months of round the clock dredging, get the beaches back on the Cancun hotel zone. But at what cost? The currents around here have been totally changed because the bottom of the ocean has been changed. Fish have moved and the fishermen continue to have a hard time finding the schools needed to fill their nets. Our beautiful North Beach is collapsing into the ocean, palm trees are being undermined and falling into the water as the beach retreats in the area between Maria del Mar and Nabalam. In fact, the beach front restaurant at the Nabalam is fighting a loosing battle right now to avoid sinking. The whole corner is sandbagged but the building itself is starting to be undermined. Many blame this on all that dredging.

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