verandahWe heard about Cyclone Bejisa just before New Year’s Eve: our neighbour’s husband, a doctor, was summoned to the hospital to stand-by until it was over.  Our New Year’s party consisted of champagne-fuelled dancing on the fairy-lit terrace until 5.00 am to live and direct sounds from our resident DJ, Natty Ho, interrupted only by the barrage of fireworks at midnight. The aftermath merged strangely into battening down the hatches for the onslaught of Bejisa.
The island went to red alert on Thursday morning at 10.00 am.  The rules of red alert are: you can’t go out, you must make your house as secure as possible and you must stay informed.  This last becomes a bit of a challenge in the inevitable power cuts.  Anyway, TV coverage consisted of a few shots of raging seas and lashing palm trees, and lengthy interviews with families sitting in living rooms exactly like ours, surrounded by plants brought in from the veranda, exactly like us, remarking that it was, indeed, very wet and windy.
Our cyclone was a mixture of moments of great excitement followed by frustrating tedium. It was fun eating lunch Thai-style cross-legged on the floor because the dining table was lashed to the veranda wall. It was fun drinking ‘might as well’ beer in the middle of the afternoon. It was fun defying the curfew just before dark, sneaking up to the bridge over the usually dry ravine to watch the brown, foaming torrent gushing down from the mountains to the churning ocean. But at 8.00 pm, with the water supply off and the third game of Scrabble by candlelight over, you started to feel like you’ve had enough of Bejisa. Go away now please, we’d like to do something else.
So we went to bed early and lay listening to the wind bashing things around, hoping that the roof would stay on. That’s the trouble.  In a cyclone, unless you’re a broadcaster or in the emergency services, you can’t do anything except sit tight.  Doing nothing because you have to, not because you want to, really just isn’t fun at all.
Jo Hepplewhite in La Reunion, Indian Ocean