As I look back over to 24 September this year, when I took the plane to the US, I remember my mood alternating between excitement and panic, while flying over Atlantic and writing ideas for my new blog post titled “Holidays for new beginnings“.
I’ll admit that was not very original but it was with this exact mood that I flew to New York. Not in a second did it cross my mind that I would end up in a hurricane zone 10 days later.
After one week in New York,on 3. October I was on a plane to Nassau, capital of the Bahamas Island.
2016 was a year of change for me. It made me go totally out of my comfort zone.
Ending up single after almost a decade in a relationship, my grandmotherpassing away a few months later… Everything I knew about life and love was challenged and brought upside down,and my heart craved for my life to take on a different direction and for my mind to think differently.I made a decision there and then to take a leap of faith and stop making excuses not to do the things that I always wanted to do.
A 2.0 version of myself.
Travelling alone for a few days was a first step and a chance to think over everything that had happened as well as reconsider the direction I wanted to give to my life.
I didn’t however take into consideration the weather conditions that were about to go crazy.
After 24h in Nassau, I learnt that the Hurricane Matthew (cat 4/5) was heading to Nassau within 48/72h.
I woke up panicking and feeling lost. What was I supposed todo? Leave? Stay?
I was overwhelmed that it was scheduled to happen while I was travelling, exactly at the time I decided to go on along journey.
My paradise became my nightmare. Was my life in danger?
From this perspective I can say that no,it was not.I could have totally stayed in my fancy room alone, like a rabbit in its hole, waiting for the hurricane to blow over.
However after watching the weather forecast over and over and hearing about the strength of the impact I decided it was better to leave Nassau as fast as possible.
I will spare you the story about the fight to get the plane ticket out of an island which was about to close its airport zone.
My sweet holidays were slowly melting away, so I did what I knew best – acted fast and listened to my gut feeling which was screaming: leave this island a.s.a.p.!
In the cab I took on 4th October on my way to the airport I met Raphael,Bahamian cab driver who nicely shared with me his hurricanes experiences. He told me that the most dangerous Hurricane that hit the island was Betsy. His plan, once Hurricane Matthew reached Nassau, was to go home, open a bottle of Jack Daniels and go straight to bed hoping that Cuba or Haiti will slow it down.This trip to the airport was like a crash course on Hurricane and how one should organize themselves before. From the cab window, I was looking at people from Nassau covering shop windows and protecting them with wood and metal. I learned that palm trees are not useful against hurricane as they don’t stop the wind enough and that people should always choose denser trees around their houses.
Once at the airport I met young freshly landed European tourists, who didn’t’ even have a chance to open their luggage when they were sent back to the airport. Unfortunately for them all the flights were already full and they spent their first night waiting for a flight vacancy. I felt really sorry for them. It’s when it all dawned on me. I found myself lucky in this situation.
That same evening I was in Miami in a hotel close to the airport, exhausted, starving and without any clue where I would sleep the coming days but thankful that I could leave Nassau in time. From that perspective everything else seemed trivial.
Once in Miami, I had to improvise the rest of my holiday, as my friend couldn’t join me because the Hurricane was going up north from Florida.
I was blocked in my hotel room the day Matthew reached the beach of Miami,checking the news and wondering how strong the impact would really be after seeing the catastrophic images of Cuba on TV. Alone in my room, I spent my time to reassuring my family and friends that I was fine.
That week has given me the opportunity to open myself even more to other people, to unknown situations, to relax and trust my instincts more.What could have ruined my holidays made me even more thankful to be alive, healthy,and lucky enough to be able to travel and meet extravagant and colorful characters. Once Matthew left Miami I went out to Coconut Groove while the sky was still dark but the storm was far away and I promised myself that I would remember these holidays and the people I met during that time all my life.It was an enriching experience and I learnt a lot about myself and all the ressources one can find when in an emergency situation.