Whaddyadoallday? Real Life on a Desert Island Rotating Header Image

December, 2011:

Too much rain, too little island.

The past couple of weeks have been uncharacteristically wet – especially now during what is supposed to be the driest time of year. The rain just keeps on coming. Not constantly but daily. The cisterns are overflowing. The chemicals are being washed out of the swimming pool. And the bush, normally struggling simply to survive in the semi-arid environment, is flourishing in the face of consistent irrigation and is threatening to overtake the roads, quite literally, at every turn.

Sunday, the 27th of November, was exceptionally bad. We were having lunch with friends and specifically chose the location based on the amount of foul weather protection that the restaurant’s structure would afford. That is not something we typically have to consider, but we made a good choice because it rained and rained and rained. Under normal circumstances, I imagine that we would have never ventured out in the first place, but this was a birthday celebration so the timing of the gathering was kind of important.

We live on the southern coast towards the center of the island. The restaurant was to the west of us, and the drive there and back was rainy but not really a problem. The birthday girl, however, lives about as far to the east as one can go. I had baked a cake for the celebration; and the plan was for us to stop by our house, pick up the cake, and head to her house for the ‘party’. So, we swung by the house, grabbed the cake, balanced it on my knees and headed west – up a little hill and down the other side – and then ran smack dab into a newly-formed lake at the bottom.

Ok. That was unexpected but not entirely beyond reason. There’s no established drainage on this island – no drains or sewers, etc. The run-off water has to just find its way to the sea and often times the easiest way to do that is to use the paved roads. That particular stretch is in a narrow, low point between hills on all sides. I had never seen it completely under water before but with any rain at all you have to drive a bit of a slalom because the water builds up alternately side to side as you drive along the curves. This time there was no path. There was just water. So, we turned around and headed back west to drive north and then onto the old highway into the Valley. That is when the real impact of the rain became apparent.

Everywhere we went we found more water – covering the roads, pooling beside the roads, spraying out from under car tires, pouring down from the sky. We considered turning back and returning home, but I didn’t have the cell phone and didn’t want to disappoint the birthday girl so we plodded on at a snail’s pace until we reached the East End Salt Pond and found that it, too, had turned into a lake. We headed back west again and made one last attempt to head north. No luck. We ran into another impassable, flooded road and finally had to give up. (Photos we saw after the fact showed chest-deep water in some places with the worst flooding on island since Hurricane Lenny back in 1999. )

It was still raining heavily; and we were starting to worry that while we were out wandering the water had blocked our return. Luckily it didn’t, and we made it back to our house only to find that the birthday girl never made it to hers; and other folks were trapped there unable to get out. All in all, it took us a little over 2 hours to not get where we were going. That’s quite an accomplishment on a teeny, tiny island that is only 18 miles long. Retaining water the way it did that day, though, it certainly felt a lot bigger.