State of Emergency Day #28
So we're on Day #28 of the State of Emergency here on Roatan in the Bay Islands of Honduras. No one is allowed onto the island at all, we are in absolute quarantine, no airplanes, no cruise ships, just cargo boats arriving from mainland Honduras and the USA that get sprayed down with disinfectant. We're starting to feel a little loose in the head, like you do when you've been awake for too long without getting any good REM sleep. In a word: loopy. Like we're going crazy. Or maybe we're already there.
Is a thin-skinned reality TV host really President of the United States? Is the whole world really on a medical stay at home lockdown over batflu? Are there really gigantic swarms of locusts 3X the size of NYC plaguing Africa? Are they really making a 4th Matrix movie or are we the movie?
Regardless, we've been SCUBA diving a couple times, doing some lionfish hunting, one of our favorite things to do ever since Steve got certified and, thankfully, an activity that the local government is sanctioning at the moment since it does help to keep this horrible, invasive, voracious species at least a little bit in check. So long as we're using our own equipment (check) and our own boat (check), we're not congregating in large groups (check) and we're not doing it commercially, the authorities have said it's fine.
We've seen really cool marine life while we're lionfish hunting like moray eels, scrawled filefish, spiny lobsters, cleaner shrimp, Caribbean Reef Squid (Steve's favorite), all kinds of angel fish and loads of sharp nosed puffers. It must be sharp nosed puffer mating season because there are clusters of sharp nosed puffers everywhere right now. We love them because they're quite inquisitive, always moving around, and they have gorgeous coloration if you look at their heads up close.
But back to Lyin Fish hunting, we scraped six off the reef one day, got another seven the next, and Steve managed to do a halfway decent job cutting them up into some decent sized morsels without getting stuck with one of their venomous spines. It's not his first time handling lionfish. With some nice coconut breading, Steve fried them up super nice and tasty for a couple of low-cost meals that tasted great knowing we were doing right for the reef. Between setting up for the dive, then spearing the fish, cutting the spines off, filleting and cleaning them, breading and frying them up, lionfish hunting really is an all-day activity in these challenging Covid times.
We've also been doing some solitary walking and, like most everyone else, we've been doing a LOT of cooking, Andrea's discovered a love of baking, having recently made some killer snickerdoodle cookies. And we've also been doing a metric ton of TV watching. We're almost done with the second superb season of HBO's award-winning SUCCESSION; we're digging the third season of WESTWORLD that's currently on air; the final installments of BETTER CALL SAUL are peak TV, even better than Breaking Bad; and we think that the last season of HOMELAND is also impressive, harking back to the first two seasons of nail biting Carrie/Brody tension this year with the ambiguous Carrie/Yevgeny relationship. Let us know in the comments wheat we should be watching next!
We're also doing a bit of reading, Steve is glad to finally have the time for a reread of the 3,000 page Neal Stephenson epic the Baroque Cycle. When they start making TV shows again, someone with deep pockets like HBO or Netflix or Amazon needs to turn this amazing series into a high end series with each novel comprising a season with Cryptonomicon serving as a 4th season, and potentially Reamde and then Fall; or, Dodge in Hell acting as further extensions, you're talking six seasons worth of material at least. Steve's also working on his own manuscripts in fits and starts as the vagaries of the day allow in these mentally trying times.
Anyway, it's been almost a month now with no business, no revenue coming in at all, which is definitely NOT GOOD for our sailing charter business. Especially this time of year, we're usually busy, several charters a week, planning, executing, cleaning, scheduling, etc. Now, we're only allowed out of the house for essential business (food, fuel, or medicine) on one day of the week corresponding to the last digit on our ID card. Other than that, we're officially on lockdown, which means we're not making any money - nor are most small businesses on the island.
Everyone on the island has been impacted by this new abnormal reality that we're all inhabiting. Thankfully, the island is pulling together, providing food to those in need in communities throughout Roatan and the Bay Islands. It's not perfect, and there is a lot of need out there, but thus far, communities seem to be doing a decent job of keeping crime in check, the complete curfew after 6pm probably has something to do with that.
The Make it Count Foundation fundraising effort has raised $150+ thousand dollars with another $50 in matching support pledged by an anonymous donor, so please, if you can afford it, think about giving to this effort. If say, you give $100, the anonymous donor will match that $100 (making your donation twice as meaningful) until that $50K matching pledge is exhausted. (We're not sure how much of the matching pledge is left as this post goes live, but it was just announced a couple days ago so there should still be plenty there).
The fundraising effort is run by Governor Dino Silvestri and will be overseen by a committee and will be used to support the Bay Islands throughout the Covid crisis. Rest assured, any money given to them will be used exclusively to help those on the ground, struggling to survive with absolutely no income. Dino and his team, all the mayors and congresspeople, and tons of ordinary people on the island have been nothing short of amazing thus far: transparent, responsive, and supportive, coming together as a community like never before. In a way, it's reminiscent of the aftermath of 9/11 when everyone came together, only thin, stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.
Let's face it, they're going to need a lot of help here on Roatan for a long time. Even if they keep the borders shut and the island locked down, the virus will eventually get here. Unless they start torpedoing boats and shooting down planes, that is. Maybe it's a bunch of small boats coming over from the coast on a calm day, or an official trapped on the mainland deciding to come back to the island on a cargo ship, someone carrying the virus will make it to Roatan eventually. How far and how fast Covid-19 spreads will depend on if social distancing measures have been maintained and how well they've been enforced. Maybe we're wrong, maybe the island will be able to remain Covid-free until a vaccine is available or until they get a large number of rapid response test kits, but how long's that realistically going take here in Honduras when people in the States can't get tested and there is no viable, vetted treatment on the market?
Six-nine months at the earliest is what we think, a November/December restart for the island opening up and even that's being, let's call it generous or optimistic, given that the US has stopped exporting all medical equipment, which means the islands are going to need a lot of help. Aside from the Make it Count Foundation fundraising effort organized by the municipality, organizations like the Roatan Marine Park which is still patrolling marine protected areas all over the island and the hard working, good people helping our four (and three) legged friends over at Roatan Animal Support, and Roatan Operation Animal Rescue are also going to need help, too. A lot of the marine park and animal rescue funds come from tourists here on the island. It could be a year and a half, it could be longer before life, such as we knew it pre-covid-19, is able to resume again with cruise ships and tourists flooding the island every day, week, and month of the year with cash money to spend. Even then, life is going to be different. International travel will probably require blood tests at immigration and medical ID cards are going to be rolled out everywhere. What this all means for Caribbean tourism long-term is for anyone to guess.
We'd be idiots if we said we weren't worried .. but we hope and pray that tomorrow will be a better day, that light will overcome the darkness sooner rather than later. And we're planning and preparing for what happens if tomorrow winds up being just another turd in the abominable shitshow that has been 2020. One good thing about owning a boat is knowing that our interests are always mobile, and everywhere we go is an adventure, a journey, a sojourn into the unknown.