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Mitch sidswipes Cayman,
October 1998

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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 so long.

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 leisure activity.

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.

Hurricaine Mitch 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]

next door, NW point area 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 either.)

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 together!

Life is good here in Cayman, and I plan to continue to share it with you,
... so stay tuned.

Please send your comments and/or suggestions for future articles to the The wench apologizes that she really doesn't have enough time to answer personal requests for recommendations on where to stay and what to do in Cayman, but she does try to read all her email when time permits.

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