After a very busy summer season in Real Estate, I decided to take a week vacation with my sister in law, friend, mother and my mom’s two friends. Six ladies ranging from ages 41-73. Don’t get me wrong, the real estate market has been wonderful this year – homes were selling within days and working with sellers had been a delight. Working with buyers on the other hand had been like being in an abusive relationship – offers being picked apart, rejected, competing with up to 20 other buyers for a house, and remaining hyper vigilant to find that home that is just about to go on the market to be the first one in the door with an offer. Needless to say, a rest was welcome. I spent the 7 days before leaving for the trip working deals/offers and updating my staff with all the contracts that were in process, and the new listings that were being marketed. As most people know, getting ready to take a vacation and then catching up when you get back is rather a beast. However, I was happy to do all this in the hopes that I would have a heavenly break from reality in a wonderful place called Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. This was not my first rodeo to Cabo – my mom has a timeshare there, and this was our 5th year traveling to Cabo in September. Typically we were there for the Mexican Independence Day celebration – and only experiencing rains once or twice previously while on vacation there.
When we heard there was a storm brewing in the ocean by Cabo– and weather people believed it would stay at sea and not make land fall – we did not hesitate in our trip plans. Little did we know, Hurricane Odile was headed right through the middle of our lives.
We landed on Friday afternoon, checked in , laid by the pool, went to dinner, and dancing at “The Pink Kitty” in downtown Cabo. Saturday we repeated this and then woke up on Sunday morning to clouds. We decided to go to Walmart for some water and sandwich items just in case we needed to make do for a day or so during the storm. It was then that we learned the storm had begun to transform into a Category 4 Hurricane named Odile. The lines at the Walmart were out the door, and they began denying entrance into the store as they were running out of food on the shelves. We spoke with many of the natives who began to tell us they were worried and would recommend that we get ready for one of the worst hurricanes they have ever seen. We got back to our hotel with our provisions, were told by staff to close/lock doors, stay away from windows, put towels under the door to keep water out, and hide in the bathroom if it got bad.
It soon got bad! The wind began blowing and the waves began cresting over the sea wall. Sea spray was rising above the famous Cabo Rock formation which stands about 60 feet high. We stuffed towels under our door while the wind howled and the door threatened to crash in. Leaves began blowing between the cracks in the door and water began seeping into the room. We took off the two comforters on the beds and used those along with all the towels to stop the water from continuing into the room. The wind sounded like a train for several hours – then it became quiet for about 30 minutes – we later learned that was the eye of the storm. Then the wind began blowing from the other side of the room – threatening to crash in the large balcony windows – we heard things slamming around and blowing against the door and window and began making plans for how we would handle cuts from the glass if the window broke. Thankfully, the window stayed in place and after several more hours, the wind calmed down. We fell asleep for a few hours, and woke Monday morning to wrench open the door (it had warped with all the wind) and look at the severe devastation of the storm. There were 6-8 inches of water in many of the hotel guest rooms, light poles were down, AC units had blown off buildings, windows had caved in, thatch roof hotels were topless, there were 8-10 inches of sand at the bottom of the pools, many of the outdoor eating areas were caved in or blown away, and the beach was full of debris. We got dressed with no electricity/water (they were moving the electrical in the hotel to a generator and without electricity there was no water) and walked the beach and went into downtown. All the places we had visited the day before were caved in, blown away, or flooded. Owners began boarding up the windows, but the looting had not begun. Everyone we met had a different story about the hurricane and all seemed in shock. This was when I noticed how vastly different the various buildings and structures were built in Cabo. The locals seemed to have built buildings that easily gave way and suffered complete destruction from the Hurricane. The larger chain resorts and hotels were mostly in tact – having been built with cement, blocks, stone and metal. Many times I thought during this experience that the people who were closest to the edge of having financial problems were the ones most likely to suffer greatly at the hand of a disaster.
Though the devastation after the hurricane was immense, the town still felt safe and we were not afraid to walk around and talk to people. However, on Monday afternoon, our cell phone coverage and internet was gone and remained gone until Wednesday. This began to get creepy, especially since there was no local media coverage and no one seemed to know what the next plan was for recovery, food, water, fuel, or evacuation. At this point, everyone thought the Cabo Airport was still intact and flights would just be moved to later in the week. It wasn’t until Tuesday that we learned that there was no Cabo Airport, and all flights were cancelled and the only way to get out from there was via an evacuation plan that was being managed by the Mexican Military. We learned there were around 30k tourists in the Cabo area that needed to get home and there were very minimal plans for getting that process completed. We began to notice some degree of desperation in the local workers, and in the tourists. Trucks full of natives from the surrounding areas began to arrive and park outside the City Club, Walmart, Ace Hardware, Sam’s club, and Coca Cola plant. It was like being at a stoning –the mob waiting for someone to throw the first stone – but the crowd was waiting for someone to bust open doors and gates to allow everyone to have access to looting the companies. People were loading up TV’s, mattresses, food, beverages, electronics – anything that they could carry.
(Stay tuned for Part 2 to come)