West Bay, 19 Mar 1999
She Lives! The Wench is Back!
Yes, friends, the West Bay Wench is alive and well, although she hasn't
lived in West Bay since her home was inundated by the storm surge from
Hurricane Mitch last October. That, in part, is why she has been silent for
Many thanks to all you wonderful folk who wrote to thank her for whatever
assistance her missives have given, compliment the page and the site, and
ask that she continue her writings. It is because of this that you are
reading her words today.
Last year was a very busy one for this old wench. Running a wholesale
business single-handedly leaves very little time for leisure activities, and
since writing Pirate Poop generates no income, it has to be classified as a
At 2:00 AM, when you look at the clock and contemplate
leaving until morning the rest of the work you need to do on your computer,
dedicating another hour to writing Pirate Poop, or going to bed, the choice
isn't too difficult - sleep wins.
Then along came Mitch. As you are probably aware, Hurricane Mitch passed
approximately 180 miles south of Grand Cayman.
What you may not know is
that two areas of Grand Cayman sustained considerable damage from the storm
surge: Northwest Point in West Bay, and an area on the south side of the
island around Ocean Club and Mariner's Cove.
Most of the docks on Little
Cayman also fell victim to the high seas, as did the newly reconstructed
South Sound Dock on Grand Cayman.
I bought my little home after Hurricane Gilbert [September 88],
so I was fully aware of the
magnitude of the damage that could be done by a Category 5 hurricane whose
eye passes within 25 miles. We prepared this time for that extent of
damage, but on Northwest Point, at least, the damage was far worse from
Mitch. [Editors note: see picture below of damage to buildings to east]
It was difficult enough to dig 6-8" of sand and coral out of the
inside of a structure, pitch someone else's belongings into the trash, and
completely re-do the inside. But to see your own furniture floating in two
feet of water, to have to sort through your own soggy, smelly belongings,
and to face re-doing the whole interior AGAIN is truly demoralizing.
There was a silver lining in this very dark cloud, however. I discovered
how much some already treasured friends cared, and I learned that there are
still many good, kind people out there.
One friend turned over his living
room for my office, which used to be in my little home in West Bay, and took
me in. (Five months later, I'm still living there.) Another friend spent a
fortune calling my mother in Florida to assure her that I was okay and to
relay messages. (Cable & Wireless took 11 days to move my telephone line.)
Other friends took my soggy clothing home to wash and dry it for me or gave
me the use of their laundry room for an extended period of time. (This
means even more when you understand that it takes US$5.00 to wash and dry a
load of laundry in the laundry room where I'm living now.) And my
83-year-old mother came down and helped me through the worst of the sifting,
sorting, and packing up.
Another relatively new friend sent a box to me all the way from California.
She lost her home in a fire several years ago and could immediately
empathize with what I was going through. She sent an iced tea maker
(knowing that I drink at least half a gallon of iced tea a day), special
tropical tea bags, a popcorn maker with popcorn, new towels she had taken
the time to wash, a cozy quilt, Halloween chocolates, and many other lovely
gifts. I still cry just thinking about the love that went into that box.
All in all, I consider myself very lucky. It could have been much, much
worse. No one in Cayman (to my knowledge) was injured in the storm,
although there were a couple of close calls when people foolishly ventured
too close to those crashing waves. Unlike those poor folks in Honduras,
Nicaragua, and Belize, we never felt the full force of Mitch's fury. Yes,
we were all very, very lucky.
And the worst is over now. I have other wonderful friends who are helping
me renovate my home. We are finally meeting with the insurance adjuster
next Friday to settle the insurance claim. I am beginning to get excited
about new tile, cabinets, furniture, and appliances, and I am looking
forward to returning to West Bay. (I just can't seem to come up with a
pseudonym that works for George Town. "The George Town Trollop" doesn't
convey quite the right idea, and "The George Town Jezebel" doesn't get it
And I'm continuing to meet wonderful new friends. Just last week I met a
fantastic couple from Little Rock and their adult daughter - GREAT folks.
We went to hear Barefoot, who is now playing Monday and Friday nights at the
Hyatt restaurant at Rum Point, and we may end up collaborating on a cookbook
Life is good here in Cayman, and I plan to continue to share it
... so stay tuned.