I sat at this empty spot on Seven Mile Beach the other day, thinking, watching, and doing nothing for a moment. With the force of Hurricane Irma then poised to crash into a vulnerable set of islands not too far away, I struggled to imagine what the beach might have looked like when Hurricane Ivan ravaged the impossibly flat landscape of Grand Cayman.
As it tore through the island some years ago, my aunt rode out the storm on the roof of her nearly submerged house. Her car - which she had left in the parking lot of a Georgetown restaurant - was later found, sandblasted, ragged, water-logged, and thoroughly ruined, floating a few corners down by the old post office. The island, now buzzing with construction from Westbay to the East End (and everywhere in between), was near decimated; rebuilding and facing down storms seems to be the Caymanian way.
In Trinidad however, our way is to declare that, "God is ah Trini." It's the catchall phrase we toss about with a fool's bravado as we collectively head to the corner bar to 'shelter' a possible storm with a shot of Puncheon or Babash in hand.
In Trinidad, we have never truly faced disaster, let alone devastation.
So, when the sea began to churn upon itself, and the impossibly blue Caymanian skies turned darker than the slate grey London days I temporarily left behind, I began to feel small, and foolish, and insignificant in the face of what quickly became a massive, omnious thunderstorm.
I felt smaller still when, after running to the car with my shivering baby daughter in hand and a wailing son at my heels, I realized that Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Leeward islands, and parts of neighbouring Miami were about to be pounded by something far, far worse than what I had just experienced.
The calm sea at Seven Mile - turquoise, but not too green, blue, yet clear and dappled with golden flecks of sunlight - had whipped itself into a mighty, thrashing virago within minutes. Lightning flashed onto the shore, and the claps that followed seem to belch out from the depths of the sea. Palm trees swayed violently; fronds began to rain down onto the sand all about us. I can still hear the wind howling in my ears. The roads instantly began to flood as the lasts vomited froth, seaweed, and all manner of things in front of my path.
It was awesome, and frightening.
Frightening, because after a mere few minutes in a passing storm, I no longer struggled to imagine what an island completely obliterated by a hurricane might look like...
The sublimity of it all was impossible to miss. All the shiny facades, all our human plans, all the time spent thinking, watching, and doing nothing for a moment. Everything was reduced to mere trifles, with a feverish concern for loved ones and for preserving life itself being the only things that mattered. A sobering reminder to have, now that we are beginning to see what horrors Irma has left in its wake.
Indeed, we are truly nothing in the grand scheme of everything.
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