I am a hurricane Survivor
September 21, 2017
September 21, 2017 was our planned wedding date. In the 10 months of planning did I ever think we would be spending this day cutting down power poles with my neighborhood trying to get our cars out of the neighborhood.
Blake and I began our morning cleaning up in the yard and using rope to tie up a wire down across our driveway. Now that there are not any leaves on the trees we can clearly see in the distance our neighbors banning together to clear our road enough to be able to drive our cars. We race down with basically every tool we have to help!
A few hours later our roads are “clear” enough to get cars through usually with one lane.
24 hour curfew is in effect right now, but that isn’t going to stop me from hanging out with my family.
I was so excited that my car was out that I was anxious to check on my office and make sure it’s still standing and that I will still have a job. My mom comes with me and we take the 20 minute drive where the scenes were unimaginable. Driving off the east end showed me that my end of the island really got the least of the storm.
My office was totally fine!! Yay! No damage at all besides some wires down.
Another win- Bluewater terrace is open and serving food! We race over here just in time for the police to shut it down for the day announcing there will be a curfew lift the next day from 12-4 at which time we could return and eat.
I did make it in time to get a drink… the silver lining.
With Bluewater shutdown we head home to grill some beans and rice. We also discover that if you climb up the steep cliff in our backyard, then go through the neighbors backyard, walk up their road a little and then stand on a rock you can get one bar of cell service! Yay!
Our neighbors came over for a drink and helped blake hook the water pump up to the generator- we can shower now!! Big win for the day!
Blake and I begin discussing what we are going to do in the immediate future temporarily… go to the states? Stay here no matter what?
Winds are definitely picking up now. Blake, Colin, Eric, Kylie and I try to distract ourselves with hours of games. It worked for a while until the strength of the storm was unable to be ignored.
Power was shut off and cell service had been out since Irma. Eric’s phone is the only one in the house still receiving messages. I clung to that phone waiting for an update form someone telling me she’s weakening! We were told that about 2am the winds would shift south and would begin to notice some weakening. We lost use of his cell phone at midnight and she was just getting started. At 2am, I clung to the hope that she was weakening…but Maria was not backing down. We did not realize that she could get even stronger than she already was!
Blake was pacing back and forth holding the windows, putting down every towel in the house we had to stop the flooding that was occurring. I was moving from my bedroom to the living room and back trying to figure out which window was less likely to blow in on me.
When I say it was the longest night of my life– it’s no exaggeration! I watched every single minute tick by just waiting for the winds to calm down. She was fierce and unrelenting! It wasn’t until the sun came up that calmed down enough for us to poke our heads outside.
Our island looked totally different. We could see neighbors without roofs, more power lines down than up, trees snapped in half. It was nothing like I’d ever seen before. Our main concern was finding out if our family was okay! It’s about 4 miles or so to the condos they were staying in so we set off to find them.
The further we went the more shocking the scenes were.
When we were halfway to the condo we see 3 people walking towards us and it turned out to be my mom, dad and other brother! They were looking for us!
We continued our hike back with the family to their condo where they still had some of life’s luxuries; such as running water and cell service. We ended up actually having a really fun night. We went to another friends condo to charge phones and attend a little hurricane party. Most of the family attended and we were able to celebrate what we had just survived.
Tomorrow the new island rules start being enforced and the new reality would start to become apparent…but until then…we drink and celebrate life…cheers!
This has been a super trying and difficult few weeks with hurricaneS, a wedding, and 25 family and friends. However, I would like to preface this with the fact that I am not a writer, nor do I pretend to be. I am just a girl telling my story.
I don’t even know where to begin. If you have read my previous posts you know that I am a physical therapist living on the island of St Croix, planning a wedding to my best friend, Blake.
Bear with me as a backtrack a few weeks….September 5th, our sister islands, St Thomas and St John were devastated by Hurricane Irma. we did not know why or how, but St Croix was spared the devastation. Even though we did not get as damaged or destroyed from Irma, we still had some difficulties resulting from her. Blake and I did not have power from September 5th until September 17th. During which time we slept on couches to be near the door to get some air flow, showered in buckets, made any and all food on the grill. Yes we had a roof to live under, but life was far from easy.
The light at the end of the Irma tunnel was the fact that September 16 was the start of the much awaited “wedding week” . September 16 we slept in a king sized bed, September 16th we slept with air conditioning, September 16th we took showers and didn’t worry about running down the generator. September 16th we thought our problems were over and our biggest worry was how we were going to get all the family from the airport.
We did get all family members from the airport to Carambola Resort on North shore where all the family was staying to celebrate the unity of Blerin.
As soon I returned from my last run of guests back to the report, I find my fiancé at the bar and this is when I learn the Maria has turned into a Tropical Storm. The ever optimist in me says “Tropical storm, we can do, tropical storm may get us wet, but it won’t stop our wedding”.
Maria gets pushed out of the mind and the two families get to enjoy a nice family dinner together…not knowing that this would be the only one of the week.
I did not sleep at all that night. I was monitoring Maria’s every move, hoping, praying, willing Maria to move from the current path of hitting St. Croix dead on.
September 17th makes its appearance and I start the day with a morning walk with my parents on the beach collecting seaglass. It was such a beautiful morning, exactly what I envisioned our first beach day with the family to look like.
I rush to get my suit on and get down to the beach to enjoy every minute of this gorgeous day, knowing in the back of my head that this may be it for the week.(Of course I am annoyed that my rhinestone bride bikini had not yet arrived in the mail…a detail that will seem minute in a few days).
I get a few games of paddle ball in with my mom, dad and siblings . A game that is a staple in all beach adventures with our Davidson family of 5. While playing a three way paddle ball game with Colin and my dad, I get called over by a family congregation of girls. Among which is my grandma, mom, soon to be mother in law, and aunts from both sides.
During an intervention of sorts… the idea of moving the wedding to TOMORROW (September 18th) was presented to me.
TOMORROW? I did not mentally prepare for tomorrow. Tomorrow is not what I planned. Tomorrow is too soon!
Tomorrow it is.
I’ve realized I have had a lot to say about the downsides of the island..but I haven’t reported on too many good things..I do like living here..honestly!
To the left..this is sometimes my gym…all year round. This is one of the beaches on the island where (on my few and far between days off) I like to do TRX classes. How many other people get to strap their TRX bands to palm trees, feel the ocean breeze as you work out, and take your mind off the pain by taking in the morning views? Not too many people that’s for sure!
You can go to the beach ALL YEAR LONG. We don’t have “beach season” and “summer”. Any day, week, month the beach is always an option…and that is pretty sweet. Need a quick tan for that wedding back in the states? Go to the beach for an afternoon or two and give your tan a little “booster shot”.
This my what I wake up to daily. I open my eyes and without even getting out of bed I get to admire the beauty of a sunrise. It does not get old. Almost daily Blake or I look at eachother and say “look at the sunrise!” with same awe as we did the morning before. St. Croix is the eastern point of the United States. We are among some of the first people to watch the sunrise every day. Pretty cool!
Here is another one of our view. It’s just too pretty for words. I am so lucky.
Those are some of the greatest things about living on island..the simply beauties of the world that I get to be a part of.
A few other fun/silly reasons I like living on an island in the Carribean:
- I don’t have to have the nicest car, or even a nice car at all. No one really does. “Island cars” are real things. This saves a bunch of money.
- Because it is nice all year round, I get to spend almost all my time(besides work) outside. Most restaurants and bars are open/outside. There are very few activities that require you to be indoors.
- I complain A LOT less about being cold. Don’t get me wrong, I am cold right now as I write this on a mid April night in the Caribbean. To me, it cools down at night during the “winter”. Nothing a sweatshirt or a blanket can’t fix!
- People like to visit! As we all know, I hate being away from family and friends. Living in a vacation destination, my friends and families are a lot quicker to jump at the opportunity to come see me. YAY!!!
My number one, favorite thing about living on this island is getting to spend every day with the love of my life. I am grateful every day for him.
Do you live to work or work to live?
Why do you do the job you do?
Is it because…
You’re passionate about it?
You make good money?
You feel you have to?
There is nothing else to do?
It pays the bills?
You have no idea?
I fall under a few of these categories…and sometimes my answer changes, depending on how my I feel on any given day.
I have been in a bit of a rut lately with work. I assume this happens with most people and hopefully..something happens that reminds you of why you entered your chosen career path.
I hit a milestone with one of patients last week. This patient is a unique situation, definitely not one you learn about in school. I have had to come up with all sorts of “out of the box” ideas on how to help. I find myself looking forward to my sessions, and Friday we achieved something that made me, the patient’s family member and the patient jump for joy, high five, and hoot and holler.
THAT is why I do what I do.
A few days have occurred between when I started this post and now. Since then, I’ve had another session with the patient and hit another HUGE milestone.
I am grateful that I still find patients that excite me even when I am not feeling great about my job as a whole.
Back when I was living in Greenville, South Carolina, I had a patient’s family member (not from the United States) say something that resonates with me quite often.
“You Americans…you live to work…in my country…we work to live”
A large part of my move to the island was to “cease life” and “follow a feeling” rather than follow the “rules” of life I thought I had to follow. I knew I was living to work and hoped moving to the island would help me switch to “working to live”.
I was faced with the hard truth, that with hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans…I may need to spend some time living to work before I got the luxury of working to live. I’ve discovered that you pay a price to live in paradise…my price was taking a paycut. I am more stressed on this island working several jobs, making less money than I have ever made in the states…but I think my hard work will pay off…and I will make the switch to “working to live” long before many people ever get to.
(SIDENOTE: I feel I need to add…that while my work life may be more challenging on the island, many facets of my life have greatly improved.)
SO, I ask you. Do you live to work or work to live? Is your path leading you to where you eventually want to be? Are you at a roadblock? If so, evaluate what you are doing and how you can change it.
Island time is a real thing
People pick up and move to an island in the middle of the Caribbean for a myriad of reasons. One of the most common reasons is to slow down and enjoy life more. I honestly thought island time was a joke. WRONG.
Island time is so very real.
I like…no I LOVE…
These things are almost nonexistent on the island.
I work 2 jobs. One of them, I schedule patients and then expect them to show up at their scheduled time. In my second job, I schedule patients and then I show up when I say I am going to. Only one of those jobs actually runs smoothly. Can you figure out which one?
I have almost been on the island a year and it is a constant struggle for me to adapt to island time. Most people said “oh she will get used to it…” But will I?
Blake and I recently took a weekend trip to Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. We booked flights and a place to stay and that is where our plans ended. We spent the weekend doing whatever we “felt” like on absolutely no schedule. No plans, no times, no details, no organization whatsoever to our weekend getaway. I had an absolute blast. I was stress and anxiety free…because we had no place we were “supposed” to be.
But that’s just it….vacations are for stress relieving. Real life is a mess. It is a mess whether you make plans or not, but with schedules and times, at least it can be somewhat organized chaos. The fact of the matter is, just because I moved to an island doesn’t mean that I don’t have responsibilities anymore. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a permanent vacation down here…yet. My schedules and planning keep me on track to eventually be able to be on that permanent vacation much earlier than I ever thought possible.
While I don’t think the island is going to completely change this about me, I am trying. As for now…I will continue to show up on time. I will continue to get anxious when Blake makes me very late for things (I am greatly improving on this I think). I will continue to schedule things on our calendar that Blake does not look at. I will continue to try to slow down and relax. I will continue to make plans that will inevitably fall through (don’t worry, I probably have a back up plan or two). After all, we are island time right?
The struggle is real.