Sitting eating delicious battered fish on the deck of a shabby looking restaurant standing on stilts out over the water, a few raindrops begin to fall. Not too worried, we continue to eat. The rain becomes a little more persistent so we pick up our plates and move back under semi cover and continue. Five minutes later, with steady rain we move under the tarpaulin roof. Two minutes later we, and everyone else, retreat to the bar which has a tin roof. By now the rain is falling hard and the wind has really picked up: the paper lantern lights are now banging wildly against the roof, and the Panamanian flags on the bar are behaving like proud wind socks. The lights are flickering, the rain is coming straight in, sideways. They move the TV. Now the wind which is in turns warm and cold is really blowing. The street behind us is flooding as the waves begin to schloop over the deck and hit the road between the buildings. Then the power goes. The wind feels colder, or perhaps it's because we're wet. The staff are wearing trash bags with holes torn for head and arms. They have given up on the customers and are talking loudly into their cell phones crouched down out of the rain and wind behind the bar. The only light comes from taxis which are ploughing through water on the street. In the lights of one a dog is swimming across the road. Someone in the bar lights a cigarette and the wind does strange things to the glowing ember tip, making it look as if it is 3 or 4 lights instead of one. The lightning illuminates us from time to time: grey, wet, hair plastered to heads, sodden meals, a child still eating dark pink ice-cream. We wonder how to find the hotel and try to estimate the wind speed. The farmer, who was a sailor, estimates 70 miles an hour, with gusts of 80. Coconut palm fronds are lashing buildings and each other. It looks like a newsreel.
And then slowly the wind lessens. The lanterns cease their crazy dance, the flags hang down, we can hear ourselves speak. The rain drops a little, not stopping but mellow enough for us to pay the bill by cell phone light and head out into the flooded street. The road has holes and we bump up and down, sometimes ankle deep in water, sometimes knee deep. We've been on the island 2 hours and we find our hotel by chance. Inside the dark room we discover we have no towels, no water and no fan. But it's okay, this is the Caribbean and all will be good in the morning.