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Vacation Journal
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July Trip to Zina's during Emily

By: Kathryn in Iowa
Date: 8/19/2005

The flight from KCI to Cancun was delayed for 6 1/2 hours. As the hurricane news escalated, passangers started to leave. By the time the flight took off at 9 pm, there were about 30 passengers left. I debated about the trip when the weather channel upgraded the hurricane to a level 5,but then I thought of Zina and decided that I wanted to be there. I have lived through tornados before. I can survive a hurricane.

I was the first person through immigration. The officer said, "You crazy lady? We are having a hurricane." I just smiled as she added my 14th Mexican immigration stamp to my passport. Bus to downtown and no place to stay.It was past midnight so there was no ferry service. Finally took a cab to my timeshare in the hotel zone and spent a quiet night there. The hotel zone was incredibly quiet. The next morning, I took a cab to the Ultra Mar dock and when the ferry left, I realized that there were only five passengers and I was the only gringo on board.

The public bus was at the bus stop when I rolled my luggage off the dock. Perfect timing. I love taking the public bus on Isla. Neighbors visit with each other and often the drivers have their children riding with them on weekends. It makes me feel as if I am a part of the neighborhood.

The bus stops on Zina's street and I hop off. Knock on her door. No answer. Walk through her house, across the patio and into the apartment. There she is, tapeng the windows in the bedroom. The children in the neighborhood are playing and I hear the Coca Cola truck, lumbering down the tiny street. I am home.

Zina was well prepared for the hurricane. I did not have any reservations about staying there. The elevation and location was perfect.I later discovered that the tourists had been evacuated the previous day. I was probably one of the few tourists on Isla.

The power was turned off at 7:30 that evening, as the wind speed increased. I always have a flashlight and extra batteries so, after dinner, I went to bed with a good book.

Zina's frind, Louie and his mother, stayed at Zina's during the hurricane and from time to time, I could hear Louie walking across the patio, checking on the storm. In order to keep some air moving in the apartment, the windows that were not boarded, were left open and the entry door as well.

While I slept, Zina and Louie patrolled. When I awoke and dressed the next morning, I was amazed that there were very few limbs in the street. Zina told me later, that there were foot patrols in the neighborhood all night and as soon as a tree went down, crews were there to remove it to the side of the street. Ambulances also patroled the streets. I was delighted with the incredible organization the island could maintain during a potential disaster. They were prepared!

About 8 am I took a walk to Playa Langosta The surf was the color of mud and there was 2 feet of sea weed on the sand and, a number of palm trees had been uprooted. No tik-n-chic today.

I wandered back along Medina and was amazed that the traffic was moving. There was a detour along the street north of Mudaca's estate, but the crews were working fast with their machetes and within 15 minutes, the street was clear.

On Tuesday, Zina decided that we needed to use up the food in the frig and a barbque for the neighborhood was planned. She has a gas grill that is large enough to feed the entire neighborhood. We do rice and pasta and grill meat. I set up the picnic table and set out the food. It was great fun and Zina is one hell of a cook. Obviously, the neighbors know this too.

Midnight and the power comes on. I vaguly remember hearing cheering outside the window. The next morning,I turn off the bedside lamp. Life has returned to normal. I hear the sound of the neighbor children playing, the traffic in the street and the Coco Cola truck, lumbering down the street, making it's daily delivery to the tienda down the street.

The sounds and smells of Zina's neighborhood are far more relaxing to me that the sound of the surf at a beachside hotel. The neighborhood is real. There is no facade.

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