Friday, December 21, 2007

Wilma 21

We had not been to Cancun since our hurried return to the island, it was interesting to hear Luis talk about what Cancun looked like now. He said Cancun looked like, and was, a battle zone. We had seen just a bit of the devastation for ourselves, but it was interesting and chilling to hear about it from him. Luis was born in Cancun and knows the area fairly well.

They got back to Cancun too late to catch a ferry back so they had spent the night safely ensconced in a friend・s home. They were glad to have a safe place to stay. Gangs have formed and are running wild over there. It is just not a safe place to be・for anyone. They are terrorizing neighborhoods, robbing, mugging and stealing whatever they want. The local authorities are just spread to thin right now to effectively deal with the problem. We have been following some of the stories in the local paper. I vividly recall one where somebody answered a knock on their door, only to be met with a swinging machete! They show pictures of this kind of stuff in the papers here. Nothing is too gruesome or morbid to print. In fact, it seems sometimes that the more blood there is, the better the picture. It is very disconcerting to turn the page in the newspaper and unexpectedly see a picture of some seventeen year old kid still hanging from the noose he used to commit suicide, tongue usually hanging out. But I digress again.

People are very frightened in Cancun right now. Neighborhoods have formed vigilante watch groups and patrol their area at night. They have set up burning barrels all along their streets, burning debris from the storm, in an attempt to keep some light and the thieves at bay. We have no plans to return to Cancun in the near future. Except that I still have to go over and get my car and L has to go over and catch a flight to South America in a few days.

Here on the island, it is relatively calm. We have been cautioned by friends to keep our doors locked at all times and never leave the house unattended. One of us should always be here. There has been some looting in the more expensive homes south of us and some petty thievery (like somebody siphoning all the water out of P's water tank!) but nothing major. Certainly no bodily harm that we have heard of...yet! I doubt that it will get as bad here as on Cancun. There are regular police, federal police and the military everywhere here. And they are patrolling with loaded rifles. You can actually see the bullets in the clips of their guns as you walk by them. Still, it is an uneasy feeling, knowing that if something were to happen, there is no way to call for help. No telephones work yet.

Besides the risk of a potential mugging and the still imposed curfew, Luis told us that there was another good reason why we should stay indoors after dark. It seems that the zoo on the island was devastated also. Cages torn open and thrown about, releasing a lot of the animals. Not that there were that many to begin with. The monkeys all got out but huddled together and were found safe and sound and put back in temporary cages. None of the alligators are to be seen anywhere. They think they may have escaped to the nearby lagoons. If you are familiar with the island, that would be by Playa Loncheros and Sac Bajo. As these water bloated lagoons drain and dry up again, they hope to be able to find them and recapture them. But the worst, and the one that has everyone nervous, is that the spotted leopard is gone and is running around somewhere loose on the island!

People are being warned to keep children and pets indoors and in sight at all times. And to close their doors at night...if they still have one! It is probably just holed up in the jungle in the middle of the island anyway, eating stray dogs and cats, but one never knows for sure.

(footnote: All but two of the alligators were eventually recaptured. Nobody knows what happened to them. Maybe made it out to sea? Maybe still in the lagoon by the Yacht Club? It is anybody・s guess but they have not been seen in all these months. The spotted leopard was caught three weeks after Wilma passed. They had to hire a professional tracker to come to the island and dart it. It now has a new home in Xcaret, a tourist trap south of Cancun)

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