Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Super-Long Message I Just Left On Teresa's Blog Reguarding Current Conditions In Cancun, Isla Mujeres & La Ruta Maya

Lorna Dee Cervantes said at 12:54 p.m., Oct. 25th, 2005 at poet and artist, Teresa Ballard's... (I had posted earlier requesting information as to her brother and new bride's whereabouts. He's okay!

YEA!!! I TOLD YOU SO!! Tell your family that you have heard it from a very good source that they will be safe and in very good hands. Everyone most hold patient. The airport in Cancun is still closed due to flooding, some structural damage, and, in particular, contaminated fuel from the flooding. It's also under military command. Relief carriers have landed, and I imagine, it's every dog for himself in the case of foreign airlines such as United (particularly bad news for those travelers who travel as I do, without trip insurance -- although never without it during hurricane season, although I generally don't travel there after the first week of August & I have lived there, through 3 hurricane seasons.) I've been reading about the same horror stories about the gouging from the big foreign all-Inclusive chains & airlines. The military may evacuate all remaining tourists as soon as the airport is opened which from official accounts this morning say, may be tomorrow afternoon. The first 300 hearty travelers have been transported by large tour bus (luxurious accomodations) through the flooded jungle to Merida where they are being flown out now. It is nearly impassable in all of two ways in or out of the urban area on the coast, Cancun in particular, and no official communication with the islands, although individual have been able to get through on cell phones and report, what i have suspected and expected all along, that the people are pulling together and as a report from the Mayan Riviera came in this morning: "The people at this hotel (Playa Maya?) were out of control nice." Then the article went on to quote the couple as saying that even though the staff (maids, counter people, security) who had no idea if their families were living or dead, stayed on to help "a bunch of spoiled tourists who were about to go home in air-conditioned airplanes", then he went on to say that those same "spoiled tourists" collected some $4,300 dollars among them to give to the staff who, I am certain, are not that, but their new "amigos" for LIFE; and another article quoted a young couple staying in a hotel just south of Cancun and off the strip (hotel zone built on a very instable spit of land between the lagoon and the sea and prone to flooding in a normal season) with local hosts (indigenous Yucatec Maya): "Without these people we would be dead right now." I'll be posting links to today's articles soon.

I've been up all night monitoring the media and message boards. I own a small plot of land underwater on the island, and have many dear friends among the poorest on the island, the ones most affected, as all means of communication have been broken. But, help is on the way. The people in all directions suffered 3 DAYS! of battering from this monster. (Sorry, any Wilma's) I still have no feeling. Although, the part about "If it weren't for these people we'd be dead right now" makes me well up with tears every time I type it. I know how true that is all throughout the region.

Too bad we can't say the same about the airlines. Sabes qué? You know what? I have a friend chartering a donated flight right now directly to Isla Mujeres with aid from Puerto Vallarta. Just an idea in the air, but, I imagine they will be flying people out of there. If your brother & wife can get to a ferry dock in Cancun to Isla Mujeres, I'll ask about the possibility they can be flown out from there as the auto ferry & evacuation ferries were operating today, after 3 days under red alert on the seas -- I imagine it's a small company-owned commuter with a company pilot. Or, have them sit tight (the more they are under the care of local hosts the better) and wait to be evacuated. Some 300 people making the trek to the airport in Merida were turned away 30 miles into it for flooding and large debris on the roads. They were returned to their hotels or shelters.

Too bad the US airlines have to gouge ordinary people at a time like this of unprecedented disaster in a sister continental country, insurance or no, and take advantage of the average traveller to PARADISE just trying to get home, and out of the locals' way for the time being (isn't that also a beast?), in order to shower, eat and avoid catching any diseases in a place now suffering 100% destruction to vital infrastructure, including the hotel industry, except for small local or privately owned establishments who managed through it with minor damage to buildings -- considering how much we all, in the US, paid to bail-out the airline industry time and time immortal. (grrrr!)

But, as I always, when travelling into the "Mayan Riviera" or anywhere else in the Yucatan peninsula say -- "Go local. Buy local. Greet the locals!"

THERE ARE NO OTHER OFFICIAL REPORTS OF INJURY, THREAT, DEATHS, RIOTS, ROBBERIES or any other danger to the tourists waiting to be evacuated so far other than what has already been reported. I don't mean to shout at you but I want to reassure your father and family, and any others who might come across this message, as I have many years experience in the area with the local population. 12- 225 "looters" (the American Way is to presume innocence until proven guilty and no one will be shooting people in the Yucatan right now, not if the local indigenous population has an influence) who were photographed carrying new refrigerators, stoves and washing machines through the flooded streets, for example, were arrested-- for all we know, until someone speaks to them and reports what they say, these were gifts to grandma last Christmas and her house is now flooding -- and people were photographed carrying various items and plastic bags full of goods from the devastated national "Super" in the torrential rain. There are reported food & water shortages everywhere, but a seemingly endless supply of tuna & crackers, and other food, medicines & supplies are being distributed to everyone today, the first break in the storm.

Your brother is not returning from a "Honeymoon From Hell" he is returning from a "Honeymoon in Paradise That Was Hit Like Hell." I'm so, so sorry this has happened. Some days all we can do, to keep from crying, is just to make some kind of good lesson out of it all. Don't feel guilty. You did good to send him there. Hey, it could have been Florida right now. I swear, if I were to go through a major catastrophe such as this anywhere in the world under any conditions at all, rich or poor, I'd choose to be there, anywhere there, among the locals, and, in particular, on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. But then, I'm an indigenous person from hurricane and earthquake country, and at heart, I'm a stone chicken, which is why I'm out here, on solid granite, shielded from the winds, as much as one can be from ocassional 90-mile an hour gusts, and well above the flood plain surrounded by the source of fresh water in the country. And, oh yeah, I'd choose to suffer rich.

Your little brother will come back with endless stories to tell, a fine way to begin a new life with a new life-partner, and a changed man; I'd almost guarantee it.

Let me know if your father needs a translator or someone to try and speak with someone directly. You can email me for my home number. No phones yet except for indidual's cell phones with batteries and EMAIL, so worth a shot that way, too.

Sorry, I couldn't check on him sooner on your blog, I've been glued to mine and the surf. Also, as I said, I knew he would be in the best hands possible under the worst of circumstances. Just stay by the phones and try not to tie them up in case he has an opportunity to get through to you.

Any reports or rumors of crime is limited to the poorer neighbors, in which that particular part of downton Cancun is one, and all of 30 foreign tourists ("foreign refugees" seeking supplies like cell phone batteries & something other than water and tuna downtown) were ordered to return to their hotels or shelters by armed federal police who were shooting into the air above the crowd of looters in order to quell the disturbance: rock throwing at shooting police. As far as I know, that is the only disturbance in a population of some 30,000 stranded tourists and over 100,000 natives. (I'll be posting today's official statistics, in Spanish as soon as I'm done with this diatribe. ;-) Sorry, I just decided I'd write my blog post, too, while I'm at it, and paste it, so that I can go back to posting and translating the latest news accounts -- and I get carried away. You know, the worry. And, I just want to be helpful.

And also, to reassure anyone else frantically trying to hear something about incomunicado relatives or other loved ones in the region -- yesterday I had 1,000 extra visitors to my site, most searching for news of destruction on the islands or Cancun. (If you happen to be one of them, please, after you've exhausted the paucity of information coming out about the region other than downtown Cancun, you can rest assured and do as I do while you wait, READ; there is wonderful poetry and prose poems posted by Teresa on this site. That is, after reading all the good information on the many tourist boards in the area -- and some new urban myths!)

Best to you! And, to your little brother & bride.

~ Your poet-friend, Lorna

12:54 PM  


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