On Ambergris Caye, no ‘I survived Franklin’ t-shirts today — and that’s OK

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On Monday the dark gray and eerie stillness that preceded Hurricane Earl a year ago, settled on us once again. Looking north, I see the Dive Bar pier and a couple more that ended up on our waterfront beach after Earl. And I prayed it wouldn’t happen again.


Upon waking up almost exactly one year ago to shredded and twisted bits of around a half-dozen piers littering what was left of our beachfront, this morning’s sight was a joy to behold.

As they say in boxing, Franklin was a contender but he didn’t lay a glove on us. A change in wind here and a rise in barometric pressure there and this could be a whole other kind of story. A lot was learned last year from the abrupt changes in Hurricane Earl that spelled disaster for Ambergris Caye and The Cloisters/Tres Cocos Resort, where we live.

Crews boarded up the first-floor units on Monday, sometimes in a gushing downpour. They stripped the beach and decks of anything that could fly in 76-to-100 mph winds.

Grounds crews were amazing yesterday, tacking plywood across doors and windows of the most vulnerable ground-floor units, removing all beach and deck furniture — anything that could fly was moved to the back of the property. The cisterns were sealed against a sea-water surge. The fairly new pool pump was removed from its below-ground tomb and secured in a concrete bunker. (An expensive lesson from Hurricane Earl, last year.)

At most, last night, the water breached the seawall a half-dozen times. I could hear the sporadic slap-and-crash clearly in the dark pitch of night. Our lights flickered off and on three times in the span of a few seconds — my immediate thought was “Mexico must be getting hammered.” That is where we get our electricity. We lost about half the cable channels around 11 p.m. After which, I read this morning’s New York Times on-line and turned in about 2 a.m. to the sounds of a droning fan and nothing more.
Come on. Tell me this blob doesn’t look ominous. While it is devouring the Yucatan Peninsula to the north a heck of a lot of that rainbow orange and red was washing over northern Belize.

Others were feeling the same sort of relief. On Facebook, friends were lamenting the fact that they’d eaten through all the chips, ice cream and curry chicken and other survival goodies long before the anticipated electrical blackout arrived. It says something that everyone fully expects the island to lose power. When it doesn’t, it becomes a source of wonder. On a scale of 1-to-10, I’d have to put the suffering quotient for Franklin at a solid . . . um . . . wait until next time.

All and all, not enough to print up curry-and-ice cream stained “I survived Franklin” t-shirts.
Our cisterns benefited greatly from a steady rainfall and right now the temperature drop is pure bliss. Having just returned from vacation and the bank, I had plenty of Belize dollars on hand to hire clean-up crews should they be necessary. They won’t be.
Gil has restored the pool pump and he, Kendrick, Chance and all are removing the plywood boards. No rush on the furniture as it is still heavily overcast and periodically raining. And a good raking of the beach needs to be done when the weather settles.
Last night at dusk, I walked around the property taking photos of the lush growth that staff has planted and cultivated since Earl. It was sad to think that it had all come so far and could be wiped out again by morning.
In the end, it was all a drill, and a decent one. Even as I write there is an even bigger disturbance being pushed off the Sahara and into the Atlantic awaiting the right winds and conditions to move it west toward the Caribbean.
So, hang on. This season has another few months to play itself out.
It took a whole year for this vegetation to recover and prosper where we live. Monday night, we wrestled with the prospects of losing it all over again.
After Hurricane Earl, this field was a wasteland of saltwater, dirt and sand and excavated construction detritus uncovered by Hurricane Earl. It is coming back and today it glows with a reprieve from Franklin’s missed punch.


So glad these images are not about the devastation of Franklin but the recovery from Hurricane Earl.

One thought on “On Ambergris Caye, no ‘I survived Franklin’ t-shirts today — and that’s OK

    Frank J said:
    August 8, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Glad to read the news and hope to hear more from you soon. Best of luck.


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