Mid-November, 1999
Nevisian Paradise
Garrick's Pasture
Nevis, West Indies
 

Greetings from Paradise
"Crash Course 101 in Hurricane as Lenny Arrives"

Hallelujah. Our phone, fax and internet are up!

Phone: 869-469-8483 (almost like the US but not quite at $.74 to $1.25 per minute)

Fax and Internet 869-469-5885
 

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, we are here three weeks today. The time flies by as it always does when we are here in Nevis. Feels like we have been here only a few days.

Lee and I are loving it, even with hurricane Lenny as our official greeter less than a week after we moved in and a day after our container was unpacked. Only that previous Sunday, our eight year old neighbor, Quincy Jones, youngest son of Kenneth and Veronica was on our verandah declaring, "The sea looks rough, I think we're gonna have a hurricane." I replied "Quincy, there are no hurricanes in November." (I since keenly heed the wisdom of young and old alike.) By Wednesday morning, the hurricane had dipped on the radar screen and was heading our way. Fortunately our container had been unloaded on Tuesday with fifty-five boxes stuffed with household belongs and again at least that many boxes containing our entire collection of unassembled furniture including unpacked mattress. Ten people--neighbors, friends and builder--stopped by Wednesday morning and told us what to do. We only had a few flashlights, one match left and no hurricane lamps. One friend left us a cigarette lighter, Lee quickly went down to TDC-one of the two local hardware stores-and bought two hurricane lanterns and citronella oil.

About 2:00 in the afternoon, they bolted us in and we began the wait. More than hundred boxes-stacked and lined up in rows like miniature skyscrapers--sat clearly labeled in our great room to keep us company as we began the vigil with ears glued to the local radio station VON--Voice of Nevis. The company was good with news presented in a professional and yet warm manner, none of the "analysis paralysis" that permeates the local LA news scene. We went to sleep Wednesday night comforted by the words, "By tomorrow, Lenny will be out to sea headed northeast into the Atlantic." Not only did Lenny take everyone by surprise--Four Seasons, Sunshine's and the locals--but from the beginning it had a mind of its own. Guess it wanted to leave its mark before the end of the century. Down here, Lenny was dubbed "hurricane of the century." Once every hundred years, a hurricane spinning in its gusting path as its gales navigated the entire distance from the west in the Gulf of Mexico to the east in the Caribbean before heading to its final resting place in the northern Atlantic. The night before Lenny passed through, Sunshine had dinner at his place with his new wife and her family. The next morning, Sunshine's Bar and Grill as we knew it was gone, including the photo of Sunshine, Lee and I taken eight years ago. Half of the guests at the Four Seasons Resort Hotel were evacuated on a chartered flight just in time, the remainder were stranded here on Nevis with a different type of memorable adventure than they had planned. One of the guests at the hotel had become quite frightened. An usually strong, independent woman--as alluded to by her husband--she freaked out and demanded that the hotel find her another room elsewhere far away from the pounding surf. Scott, the Four Seasons' Room Manager, lives in a rented home two lots below us. A year and a half ago, after Lee and I had rented that house, we completely re-designed our home Nevisian style. Anyway, Scott kindly offered to let the Four Seasons guest and her husband stay there. (Lee will continue this tale later in this letter.)

During the hurricane, Lee and I began to unpack by flashlight and place our carefully and lovingly chosen new household items in our new home. At 1:00am we went to bed and I remember lying on the sleeping mats in the living room surrounded by huge layers of boxes saying to Lee, "It's a good thing that we like each others's company." We managed to eat, cook, shower but not bake as we have an electric oven-big mistake. To prevent electrocution from downed power lines during the hurricane, the island electricity is shut down. I have never been in a culture, other than Israel, who is as genuinely concerned as Nevis is about the welfare of its citizens. The pervading philosophy here is that life is precious and resources are limited, so the focus is always on prevention and getting it right the first time.

Following, Lee shares his perception of the morning--two days later--after Lenny's lingering departure: I want to share a nice story about the Four Seasons guests who were staying in the house near ours. After we were given the green light to venture out of our boarded homes, with the wind still up and the sea still churning, Ruth and I decided to walk down to the beach to see the waves. As we started out, we passed the house where the Four Season's guest were. We gave them the customary greeting, "Good morning," and introduced ourselves. As we were talking our close neighbors, the Fergusons--Kenneth and Veronica--came walking towards our house and wanted to know if we wanted to go to the beach with them. We invited the Four Seasons guests, Sally and George (names have been changed) to join us but George did not have any shoes to wear in the mud. "No problem," Kenneth went home and fetched his son's brand new tennis shoes for George. Sally had a female problem, it was her time of the month, and she did not have her provisions. "No problem," said Veronica. As her husband went to get the shoes, she told him to bring what she uses and gave it to Sally. Now we all had what we needed and were on our way to the beach. Kenneth then shouts out that Hilarena, another friend of ours who drives the taxi van for our area, was waving to us from the road on her way to our house. We waved her down to where we were and she says, "Let's all get in the van and take a tour of the Island." We all pile in and head into Charlestown. Tony's super market is open so we go in to buy some supplies. Ruth does not have enough money with her, but again not a problem. Our new-found friends advance her some money. Not only that, but a total stranger in the market says to Ruth, "Do you need some money?" We all take a tour from one end to the other on the west side of the Island. The waves are amazing and unfortunately so is the damage. After a couple of hours, we end up back at our house. Part of the provisions we purchased is some wine so our new-found friends come back to our house for some wine and snacks. The interesting thing is not only how friendly and helpful everyone is and but this couple from Baltimore said that the friendliness and helpfulness that was shown to them was the highlight of their trip. They experienced a part of Nevis that very few tourist ever see, hanging with the locals. They were thrilled to have had the experience and as result what first looked like a terrible experience had a silver lining. And so life continues with never a dull moment or time for boredom. Hope this finds you well.

Love and later,
Ruth and Lee