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A NEW BEGINNING #146438
10/14/2017 07:02 PM
10/14/2017 07:02 PM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 185
VitaMan Offline OP
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VitaMan  Offline OP
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I just returned home from a three day visit to SXM to survey the damage to our villa, and after catching up on all the posts since the 10th, I decided I had to share my observations because I see there are still way to many self-rightous hand wringers, nay-sayers, doubting Thomases, and fair weather friends still posting here (you know who you are).
We were on the AA flight from Miami on the 10th. The atmosphere in the waiting area in Miami was palpable, not with fear and trepidation, but with excitement and anticipation. My guess is that a healthy percentage of those travelers were residents returning to the island or family members wanting to check in on their loved ones. There were also many like our group who wanted to go in and see what they need do to resurrect their properties, and there were quite a few construction people as well. Once on the plane, there was much, much more chatter than on any flight I've been on in a long time. It was steadily raining all day and as the plane approached SXM, I couldn't even see the ground until a few seconds before landing. Once we landed, the was an outburst of applause, not because the pilot executed a skillful landing, but because the landing was on SXM soil. We were put on buses to take us to the makeshift arrival hall, and I was near the front of the first group. As we approached the entrance, the very first face I saw was Dave from Topper's Rhum, who was fist-pumping our arrival - a very welcome sight indeed. Once inside the hall, I saw the beautiful carnival dancers and the island band, and was handed a rum punch. Then it kind of hit me all at once. It was like a movie scene where you're standing in the middle of a room, and the room is spinning all around you. I was bathed in a magical feeling and my heart was overcome with joy. I was especially happy for the people who were returning home and ready to dig in to start their rebuilding journey. The rain kept falling, but nobody's spirits were dampened.
Once we got to the villa, we did a initial walk through, but since it had already been a long and emotionally exhausting day, we headed down to the Greenhouse for dinner. It wasn't very busy, but it was good to see some familiar faces. The menu was limited, but the food was still good.
Wednesday was running around day of people to see and things to do. One of the stops was in Philipsburg, and we had a very pleasant lunch at Sabor, a Columbian diner near the end of Pondfill Road. A real treat if you're ever in the vicinity. Wednesday evening, we wanted to go to Harry's for some drinks and dinner, but it was so crowded that there was barely room to stand, let alone get a table for dinner. So we ended up at Topper's for karaoke night. Again, not terribly busy and a limited menu, but those there were definitely enjoying themselves. I had a brief conversation with Topper, who mentioned he had lost his house and boat, and that the restaurant was the only thing left. To be clear, he wasn't moaning and complaining, he was just stating a fact. (I might be wrong, but I think he probably loves the restaurant more than his home or boat anyway). Thursday night, our last night, we went to Sale & Pepe. As we walked in, two of us commented at the same time "What hurricane?" - it was that crowded. It was my first time there, and the food is terrific.
The real point of this post however, is that during these three jam packed days, we had many business related meetings and quite a few casual encounters. The thing that came across to me is that nobody is wallowing in self pity. Instead, they are all already waist deep in rebuilding their lives and businesses. The biggest thing that surprised me was the amount of traffic on the roads. It was like high season on steroids, and remember, none of it was tourist traffic. Everyone is out and about and doing what they have to do. I have a theory. If someone is basically a happy and productive person with a positive attitude, a setback is not going to change their outlook on life or the way they live it. Just as yesterday, they will still be happy and productive again tomorrow. Conversely, if a miserable person wins the $100 million lottery today, they're still going to be a miserable person tomorrow.
Okay, there is still debris strewn all over the place, and signs of the damage is still readily visible. However, everybody I spoke to (not just my opinion here) is that they are amazed at all the progress that has taken place over just five weeks time. My message to all you doubters and other pessimists is CUT IT OUT!! Things are on their way back, and faster than you can imagine. So if you really want to do something positive, go on your scheduled (or unscheduled for that matter) trips if you love the island as much as you say do do, and really help it recover even faster. The train is about to leave the station to a new beginning. Don't miss it!

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Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: VitaMan] #146439
10/14/2017 07:14 PM
10/14/2017 07:14 PM
Joined: Jul 2015
Posts: 871
Cobourg Ontario Canada
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jeepers Offline
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Cobourg Ontario Canada
Thank you for encouragement. We leave January 6th
We know where we rent survived but wondered about the atmosphere.
Do you know if Le Taitu on mont vernon Rd Opened?
Looking forward to seeing our island friends & helping them

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: jeepers] #146440
10/14/2017 07:31 PM
10/14/2017 07:31 PM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 185
VitaMan Offline OP
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Jeepers, as long as you understand that the island is still not going to be the perfect picture postcard paradise you're used to, you'll be fine and have a great time. There's almost three month until your trip and I expect much more progress will be made during that time. Unfortunately we only had three days to squeeze everything in due to previous commitments, and since our property is in Pelican, we were pretty much limited to the Simpson Bay, Cole Bay, and Philipsburg areas. I would have loved to have at least one more day just to drive around the whole island to see how everything was. However, it seems that the degree of damage varied greatly from one property to the next. For example, the totality of the damage to Skipjacks was breathtaking and next to irreplaceable. Next door at Lee's, although the damage was severe, workers were swarming like bees to reconstruct that place. Then next door to that, the SMYC seemed almost untouched, at least from the outside. Sorry I provide more specifics.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: VitaMan] #146441
10/14/2017 07:42 PM
10/14/2017 07:42 PM
Joined: Jul 2015
Posts: 871
Cobourg Ontario Canada
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jeepers Offline
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Thanks. We know it will be a different time. Half our time there is seeing the people . the island has given to us for 20 years we aren't about to turn our backs when they need us!
Will post from there. Hoping to master photos before then. <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Wink.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Joy.gif" alt="" />

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: VitaMan] #146442
10/14/2017 07:46 PM
10/14/2017 07:46 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 71,564
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Thanks for the post.


Carol Hill
Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: Carol_Hill] #146443
10/14/2017 08:13 PM
10/14/2017 08:13 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 994
missouri
Cathyg Offline
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and you never went to the French side where the devastation is much worse.

I have no doubt that those who stay on the dutch side will have more choices and more accommodations...and I respect and admire and rejoice for those people.

But the French side...Grand case...Orient Beach....the cul de sac have nothing left to rejoice about and the return will be much slower.

I don't want to be the Debbie downer...but facts are facts.

If you are a dutch side person...I am happy that you have something to return to.

I am a french side person...and everything i love is destroyed.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: Cathyg] #146444
10/15/2017 02:07 AM
10/15/2017 02:07 AM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,070
Westchester /NYC
Colour1 Offline
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I hear from Thomas from LaPlaya now and then. But I have not spoken to Bruno since 4am that horrible morning. Now that scares me.


Sand Gravity, got to love it!
Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: Cathyg] #146445
10/15/2017 01:26 PM
10/15/2017 01:26 PM
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 245
Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
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jaxon60 Offline
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Cathyg, Have you been back to the French side since the storm?



[Linked Image]


Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: jaxon60] #146446
10/15/2017 04:07 PM
10/15/2017 04:07 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 994
missouri
Cathyg Offline
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no i have not been to SXM since the storm...and i am very fearful it will be along time before they are ready for any visitors. We were booked for April 2018 and have cancelled and i am hoping april 2019 they will be ready...but even that could be overly optimistic.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: Cathyg] #146447
10/15/2017 06:51 PM
10/15/2017 06:51 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 3,631
Oyster Pond St. Martin
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Quote
Cathyg said:
and you never went to the French side where the devastation is much worse.

I have no doubt that those who stay on the dutch side will have more choices and more accommodations...and I respect and admire and rejoice for those people.

But the French side...Grand case...Orient Beach....the cul de sac have nothing left to rejoice about and the return will be much slower.

I don't want to be the Debbie downer...but facts are facts.

If you are a dutch side person...I am happy that you have something to return to.

I am a french side person...and everything i love is destroyed.


To say the french side got hit harder is totally false. The entire island was hit hard. I was there before and after and saw the whole island after the storm and the damage on both sides is dreadful. Certain areas of the french side were hit hard but there were many areas of the dutch side just as bad. You have to see the damage with your own eyes to make statements about what one side looks like compared to the other. Stick to what you know and don't second hand speculate.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: soualigacapt] #146448
10/15/2017 07:04 PM
10/15/2017 07:04 PM
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 245
Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
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jaxon60 Offline
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Thanks for this. I appreciate the information from those who are there and have seen with their own eyes. As has been noted, some properties right next to each other can be impacted quite differently and recovery time can be quite different. So if one only hears from those who were hit hard and/or may not be able to recover quickly, the overall impression of the state of things can be much different. And of course, second or third hand always exaggerates a story.



[Linked Image]


Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: jaxon60] #146449
10/15/2017 08:59 PM
10/15/2017 08:59 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 994
missouri
Cathyg Offline
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missouri
I stay at club orient....club orient is gone. I don't have to exaggerate it. I have a letter from the management telling me the truth. I have talked to Momo at ti buchon in the cul de sac...his restaurant is destroyed and he will not re build. I have e mailed Alain Arnell...and contacted him on Facebook....no answer

I follow le testivan on instagram....destroyed

I agree with you that some houses...some businesses can survive while the others don't. I have seen and heard from enough places i frequent on the French side to believe that the information i have been given is truth.

I am a very optimistic person...and for days...I kept saying it will be ok....it isn't this bad.

I have heard from enough folks on the French side to know that it is as bad as i think it is

There is NO ONE who wants this to be a bad dream more than me....but the reality is this....the reports we are getting are from the Dutch side....and I do believe the Dutch side will recover faster...

But i have seen first hand the damage even a category 2 hurricane can do....in SXM....I was there during Hurricane Jose in 1999 when it hit.

I simply cannot imagine what this category 5 did and how it must have felt as it hit this tiny island.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: Cathyg] #146450
10/15/2017 09:31 PM
10/15/2017 09:31 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 445
Eastern Caribbean
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You said above you didn't want to be a Debbie Downer. Turns out you're doing an awful good job of it despite your protestations to the contrary.

I will be returning to Orient Bay mid Feb. I am told that my rental unit is habitable, so I'll take whatever comes, and make an adventure of it.


_______________________

Working hard to be the best yacht bum I can be.
Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: Cathyg] #146451
10/15/2017 09:55 PM
10/15/2017 09:55 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 3,631
Oyster Pond St. Martin
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soualigacapt Offline
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Club 0 Is damaged but not gone. Momos does not own the building and has been planning on getting out for a long time. Both sides are equally damaged. Have yu seen Maho? Dutch quarter, Middle region? Oyster Pond, and many of the other dutch side neighborhoods? I have.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: Ritchard] #146452
10/15/2017 10:54 PM
10/15/2017 10:54 PM
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Posts: 1,904
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Everybody is in varying stages of mourning and recovery, even us many miles away. Obviously to a much lesser degree.

The folks on island are bouncing back to varying degrees I assume as well. Some just do, some have more energy, ready resources, some have better insurance.

From a distance much of what I visited has been heavily hit. And I here tidbits of bounce back on some and silence on others.

So, I too would like to visit for a day soon on a boat. But a land vacay looks probably 6-12 months or more away.

Mt Vernon was hit hard. Gonna need a good roofer at lest. Club O was mostly destroyed .A few chalets standing, but I bet they need gutting. Grand Case not good.

It's amazing though how people,bounce back when the will is there. Lumber here, tile there, next thing you know, back in business.

ALL IT TAKES IS ENERGY AND MONEY........AND TIME.......AND FOR ALL INVOLVED I HOPE THEY CAN FIND IT.

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Last edited by PelicanPirate; 10/15/2017 10:55 PM.
Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: PelicanPirate] #146453
10/15/2017 11:04 PM
10/15/2017 11:04 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 12,046
Auburn, WA
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Quote
PelicanPirate said:
Everybody is in varying stages of mourning and recovery, even us many miles away. Obviously to a much lesser degree.

The folks on island are bouncing back to varying degrees I assume as well. Some just do, some have more energy, ready resources, some have better insurance.

From a distance much of what I visited has been heavily hit. And I here tidbits of bounce back on some and silence on others.

So, I too would like to visit for a day soon on a boat. But a land vacay looks probably 6-12 months or more away.

Mt Vernon was hit hard. Gonna need a good roofer at lest. Club O was mostly destroyed .A few chalets standing, but I bet they need gutting. Grand Case not good.

It's amazing though how people,bounce back when the will is there. Lumber here, tile there, next thing you know, back in business.

ALL IT TAKES IS ENERGY AND MONEY........AND TIME.......AND FOR ALL INVOLVED I HOPE THEY CAN FIND IT.

<img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif" alt="" />
<img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Thumbsup.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Clapping.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Thumbsup.gif" alt="" />

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: Cathyg] #146454
10/16/2017 07:22 AM
10/16/2017 07:22 AM
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Posts: 355
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sasasal Offline
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I have to agree!! Not sure why someone is called a downer, when they are in touch with reality... This Island got hit with the worst hurricane ever... I remember after luis in 1995, how long it took for the Island to be somewhat normal, I think it was about 3 years... and that was a cat 4. this was a 5... Lets not mistake reality with being pessimistic. I for one would love to believe that things will return in no time, but not even possible, and much will never return... Yes the Island will come back, but this will be a long wait... Not fair to judge people on there opinions...

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: VitaMan] #146455
10/16/2017 07:50 AM
10/16/2017 07:50 AM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 4,026
Newtown, CT
kim Offline
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Thank you for your post. We are flying down 11/2 for three nights for the same type of trip. We are told our property is ok, but we want to lay our eyes on it before moving forward. Friends just got down on Saturday and reports are just be prepared for what is now the "new normal".

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: sasasal] #146456
10/16/2017 08:25 AM
10/16/2017 08:25 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 1,290
Hershey, Pennsylvania
Tom Offline
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We are all entitled to opinions. You feel that the island did not return to "normal" for 3 years after Luis? I vacationed there 3 months after Luis and had a great time. "Normal" is a relative word.
I, for one enjoyed the poster's upbeat description of rebuilding in SXM.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: Tom] #146457
10/16/2017 08:42 AM
10/16/2017 08:42 AM
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 1,215
South Portland , Maine
sugarae Online content
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Quote
Tom said:
We are all entitled to opinions. You feel that the island did not return to "normal" for 3 years after Luis? I vacationed there 3 months after Luis and had a great time. "Normal" is a relative word.
I, for one enjoyed the poster's upbeat description of rebuilding in SXM.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: sasasal] #146458
10/16/2017 09:29 AM
10/16/2017 09:29 AM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 185
VitaMan Offline OP
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To be clear, everything on the island is not peaches and cream right now, but what I'm talking about is ATTITUDE, ENERGY, and COMMITMENT. It was everywhere and moving in the right direction. Cathyg, Orient Beach (and Club O) are very popular destinations that entrepreneurs have invested in and profited from in the past, and they will do so again. It's pretty much the same with Grand Case. They'll get started as quickly as they can, if they haven't already.
I don't know where you get the idea that the French are any less resilient or entrepreneurial than the Dutch, that's just silly. And as others have pointed out, the damage was just as bad on both sides of the island. You obviously have a deep emotional commitment to the island, especially the French side, so it confuses me as to why you seem so willing to give up so quickly.
Sasasal, I beg to disagree, but I KNOW that within six months the island will be back in business for tourists and I will able to go to SXM and have a great time. Will everything be perfect by then? No, of course not. But why do you have to wait three years for everything to be picture perfect for you to return and enjoy it?

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: VitaMan] #146459
10/16/2017 09:40 AM
10/16/2017 09:40 AM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 4,026
Newtown, CT
kim Offline
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I donít begrudge anyone wanting to wait 3 months or 3 years before going back. That is there prerogative how they want to spend their money. Itís very different for those that own year round property and those that own timeshares. I went back a year after Luis and stayed at our timeshare in Mullet Bay. It was depressing not having Mullet, we stayed away the following year and then went back. This time we own a condo and need to check on it and have a different connection. Again each person needs to choose based on their own feelings and how they wish to spend their money and their vacation time

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: kim] #146460
10/16/2017 09:51 AM
10/16/2017 09:51 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 994
missouri
Cathyg Offline
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you misunderstood...I don't think the Dutch are more resilient than French....to quote you...that's just silly. The French side was hit harder than the Dutch side according to all reports i have read and all the pictures i have seen.

and while you seem so sure that club orient will rebuild....it is a very difficult situation. Having multiple owners can complicate it..and we are talking about starting from scratch.

It does not have to be pristine for me to return...i could be dead by that time...but there has to be a place in club orient for me to check in and to stay and to eat.

I feel like you are imagining that i am the debbie downer here and i am not. But i know what i am hearing from good sources.

I WANT it to come back and i want it to come back NOW...I am not giving up on anything....but i am realistic enough to know this is going to take a lot of time and energy and MONEY.

I am planning on returning in April 2019....that's my hope.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: VitaMan] #146461
10/16/2017 10:07 AM
10/16/2017 10:07 AM
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Posts: 355
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Please understand!!! We went back as soon as we could . We had to see about our home... But we did do some crying from what we saw after luis... My home was just flooded, this is much worse according to photos. We are not there to see the real damage... No I am not trying to be a downer. We have been owners of property since the mid 80s. We know very well what is realistic and not... We have many friends on Island, and know that this is way more damaging than other hurricans. First hand. We love our Island, but will never sugar coat something for anyone else... Have not gone, due to airlines and supplies on Island for repair. But come the end of Nov. hopefully we will see the house and Island for what it is. Please understand. We love this Island, its people and our home. this is not to be sugar coated. For those that have lost there homes, lost there incomes, lost resturants, lost ect ect. Am I being a downer? No. I just know and feel

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: sasasal] #146462
10/16/2017 10:37 AM
10/16/2017 10:37 AM
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Oh and by the way.... We just spoke to topper. He owns toppers on simpson bay road. he is a friend. He says. the Island is so devastated, bringing tourists back will make them never come again. Better to wait a long while. Topper lost his home and stays at his business daily. He says the Island is worst than anyone can even imagine

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: sasasal] #146463
10/16/2017 10:48 AM
10/16/2017 10:48 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 12,046
Auburn, WA
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sasasal said:
Oh and by the way.... We just spoke to topper. He owns toppers on simpson bay road. he is a friend. He says. the Island is so devastated, bringing tourists back will make them never come again. Better to wait a long while. Topper lost his home and stays at his business daily. He says the Island is worst than anyone can even imagine

That is not the impression his wife gives on her frequent Facebook posts.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: sasasal] #146464
10/16/2017 11:08 AM
10/16/2017 11:08 AM
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Posts: 185
VitaMan Offline OP
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Posts: 185
Even if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I can't imagine it's even worse than portrayed in the media. Yes, there are many problems and obstacles still to be overcome, but my best guess is that the island, while not perfect, will be open for tourism by March or April. Projecting the progress I saw after only five weeks to what will be accomplished over the next five months, I am encouraged.
Like Topper, I encountered quite a few people who have been displaced, but they managed somehow to secure alternative temporary living arrangements for themselves while they get their "normal" lives back together. The difference is that they are not sitting around wringing their hands at their fates, but actually trying to do something positive about it.
If you want a list of problems on the island to help you justify your negative perceptions, I can provide that. But I prefer the positive approach being taken I by everyone I encountered. Yes, the patient is still on the operating table, but the prognosis is good.
I guess only time will tell which one of us is right.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: SXMScubaman] #146465
10/16/2017 11:14 AM
10/16/2017 11:14 AM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 355
S
sasasal Offline
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sasasal  Offline
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S
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 355
really. that's what I got from topper.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: SXMScubaman] #146466
10/16/2017 11:17 AM
10/16/2017 11:17 AM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 355
S
sasasal Offline
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sasasal  Offline
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S
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 355
I know him that's that. You want to sugar coat for this forum. go ahead, in the long run this is not good tell the truth.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: sasasal] #146467
10/16/2017 11:34 AM
10/16/2017 11:34 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 12,046
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Online content
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SXMScubaman  Online Content
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 12,046
Auburn, WA
Quote
sasasal said:
I know him that's that. You want to sugar coat for this forum. go ahead, in the long run this is not good tell the truth.

Take a valium or something. Your getting to uptight.

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: SXMScubaman] #146468
10/16/2017 11:47 AM
10/16/2017 11:47 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 994
missouri
Cathyg Offline
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Cathyg  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 994
missouri
Why does it feel like this has become us against them when the bottom line is we all want the same thing?

When club orient is back and running we will return..,

Re: A NEW BEGINNING [Re: Cathyg] #146469
10/16/2017 11:57 AM
10/16/2017 11:57 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 71,564
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 71,564
Central Florida!
Actually what we all want is for this horrible thing to not have happened at all. But sometimes we don't get what we want. Everyone deals with tragedy and loss differently. The only thing that we can do at this time is to treat each other with respect.

For those not familiar with the song, I commend to you Jimmy Buffet's, "Breathe In, Breathe Out", which was written about Katrina.

"According to my watch the time is now
Past is dead and gone
Don't try to shake it just nod your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On..."


Carol Hill

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