It has been my kind of weather all morning – rainy and grey and wet. My kind of weather as long as I don’t have to leave home, that is. Then I have to contend with shoes that let in water and umbrellas that I still get wet under. Umbrellas are such an ineffective method of keeping the rain at bay, anyway. I should invest in a raincoat and water boots. Galoshes are all the rage these days. I have my eye on a purple pair.
For all I know this is normal Kingston weather, but the phone calls from my mother asking what the sky is like down here have kind of clued me in that something out of the ordinary is going on. This out of the ordinary thing is the tropical storm that seems dead set on hitting Jamaica as a hurricane.
Allow me to give you a brief history of Jamaica and hurricanes.
The worst hurricane I ever heard about (Gilbert) happened before I was born. Before that one, no one used to take hurricanes seriously. After Gilbert? Recording artistes made a mint in hurricane tunes. But also, like any good immune system, Jamaicans were sensitized to the threat of impending disaster. If a trough so much as breathed in our direction there was a mad stampede at the supermarkets for bully beef and batteries.
If you stop a Jamaican on the road, they can tell you everything you need to do to prepare for hurricanes – where to put the birth certificates so they don’t get wet, when to cut down the breadfruit tree in your yard, how to stop your dish from blowing off the roof. We have it lock.
Coincidentally, since Gilbert, hurricanes have hardly ever hit us full force. Different people will give you different reasons for why this is so, but Jamaica is by and large a Christian country. So now whenever Jamaicans hear about a tropical storm watch, they don’t run to the supermarket any more. They run to the altar to pray that Jamaica gets spared. The track record is in their favour. Hurricanes have been known to perform metereological gymnastics just to avoid our shores.
The latest tropical storm, Sandy, is expected to reach hurricane strength by the time it hits us. Jamaicans might be flooding the supermarkets, but you can bet they’re thinking “Cheups, dis nah reach wi.”
Knock on wood.