September 13, 1995
Not Your Typical Mike Bang Vacation...

As y’all know, I do my utmost to uphold BSG’s 10th treasured value: Vacation. But I guess my string of good luck had to run out at some point. Funny how it happened when I was on leave of absence from BSG. Hmmm.

My original plans to go to St. Thomas were axed when Continental canceled my flight due to a hurricane. I had an awful urge to blow some bubbles, and wrestle a few small sharks, so no hurricane was going to ruin my diving plans. So I made revised plans to go to Cozumel.

The trip started out normally. We got in some great diving, explored the island and reserved spots for a Mayan Ruins hike and deep sea fishing. All was fine, until Roxanne decided to swing by for happy hour. Time to buckle down.

Hours before it was scheduled to hit the island, the hotel called an emergency meeting in the lobby. Our instructions were to pack all our stuff, place it in our bathrooms, and carry our passports with us at all times. You know, so when they found our washed up bodies on a distant shore, they’d be able to identify us (Just kidding! Chill out!). So we hurried off into our assigned hurricane shelters to ride out the storm.

At first, things weren’t that bad. Okay, so we were crowded into small rooms with some candles, a few chairs, cold sandwiches and bottled water. No power, no running water, no caviar, but a couple of cases of lukewarm Dos Equis I’d bought hours earlier for an emergency such as this. I would’ve brought more, but that’s all that fit on the back of my moped (which, incidentally, had moved itself to the other side of the parking lot during the hurricane.). Our shelter also had a small CD player with battery powered speakers. Unfortunately, only one CD, Gloria Estefan was good enough to satisfy both the Americans and the Mexicans. Not a bad CD, but 10 times in a row? I’ll take my chances with Roxanne!

Then Roxanne really hit.

Water was pouring in all around the main door, and it looked like 3-4 people were pushing against it. Scary. We took turns leaning against the door and mopping up the mess as the room slowly flooded. Someone apparently scoffed warnings and stayed in his room. When he opened the door, the a/c unit was ripped out of the wall and nailed his legs (Hmm. Wasn’t Ben Mayberry limping the other day?). Some others were cut by shattering glass, a few people went into shock but nothing major. Still, we kept our spirits. I even called one of the other shelters on the radio and asked them if anyone had ordered Domino’s. I was told I was a dead man if I didn’t deliver. Oops!

After twelve hours in the shelter, it was over. The aftermath was pretty dismal. The outdoor cabana/restaurant was half in the trees and half in the pool. Our rooms were flooded with water, grass and leaves. The island wouldn’t have power, water or phone lines for a couple of days. The airport was closed. Cold drinks were now a delicacy. Even the underwater reef showed major signs of being torn up. An octupus showed his disinterest by inking me. But the real tragedy was that although we, as tourists, suffered what amounted to an inconvenience, the locals had lost their homes. Kind of sad.

So, we aimlessly wandered around the island for a few days, getting in a dive here and there, and touring the damage. Not much else to do. And just like that, it was time to go. Darn! Just when I was getting used to a thin film of salt covering me. Well, I think I’ll switch to mountains for the winter. Anyone want to be in a story about avalanches?

September 1995

Posted by mbang at 01:16 PM