I'd like to do a "general" trip report in a separate posting. Here, I'd like to do a play-by-play of our last night, when Wilma came to visit:
Thanks to all the postings on this site, we had a fabulous 1st-time vacation in TCI. We had perfect weather during the day, some brilliant lighting & thunder shows a couple of nights. And then, our last night, we were so looking forward to Coral Gardens' "Gourmet Dinner on the Beach" for 12. They serve a 5-course meal, with a different glass of wine with each course.
All afternoon, Charles dug the trench in the beach, where they put the tables & fine china. The guests sit on top of the trench with their legs inside. Shoes are not allowed. They must not have seen the storm coming to have gone to as much trouble as they did. By 5:00 pm, the skies were threatening, so they moved the party up into the Beach Cafe. By 7 pm, we gathered to meet our dinner companions, and started on the 1st course, an incredible pumpkin soup with rich cream on top.
We were only 2 spoonsful in (my resourceful husband saw the writing in the skies and quickly polished off his soup) when the fury of Wilma's outer bands was unleashed. We all huddled together as far into the flimsy structure as we could as lighting came straight down in front of us like bayonets. The thunder was deafening and non-stop. Winds blew over the dinner table, crashing all the goblets and china all over the place. Beach and pool furniture were rolling down the beach like tumbleweeds. And then the final blow, the power went out.
Eventually, it seemed obvious to all that the storm was not subsiding. The wonderful Coral Gardens staff calmed everyone, cooked our entrees on the gas stove and packed them up for us to enjoy in the safety of our rooms.
We pack like Boy Scouts these days, and dug out our flashlight, candles and rain ponchos with hoods. My husband helped people back to their rooms, which was a difficult feat with 8 inches of water obscuring where the steps were, slippery tile and especially with total darkness everywhere.
They gave us a bottle of wine to enjoy in our rooms. At first, it was quite romantic. Candles, wine, beef tenderloin, grouper. But then you factor in no air conditioning. No running water. Only one flush in each toilet until who knows when.
We wondered if our afternoon flight would get us out in time. At this point, after 9 wonderful days and 7 wonderful nights, we were ready to call it a vacation and go.
We made it through the sweltering night
to a gray-skied but calm day. Phones were down so we couldn't check our flight.
Computers were down, so we couldn't properly check-out--Verne said he would mail or fax our invoice. The power was still out, and we couldn't get our DVD out of the machine, which we rented (that'll probably cost an arm and a leg).
But Jerry's Taxi showed up a little early
and he made his watery way to the airport, taking backroads to avoid flooded roads,
driving around underwater vehicles and windblown obstacles.
Inside the airport were more hot, miserable tourists. Trapped inside with 2 hours to go, stifling conditions, really disgusting bathroom conditions, and squalling kids (and who could blame them?).
Our Delta flight departed right on time and we were happy to strap ourselves into an air-cooled plane and head for home.
We have many great pictures of our vacation--all but the end, when our digital cameras (both!) ran out of batteries. If anyone has any images of the storm, flooding, etc. if you could please e-mail them to us,(email@example.com) we would greatly appreciate it--they'll help us remember this exciting and scary experience.