A story about (just about) surviving a hurricane, told by a biologist with a great laugh.

Recorded in Corsica.

Score by Hayley Suviste and intro tune by James Iball.


Storyteller: I’m not going to hide and bury myself like a rat when I could watch a hurricane passing by. So I decided to stay in my house, on the hill.

Carys: Hello. So it’s been a little while since the last episode. I’ve been moving around and working on some projects. But here is the latest story. It wasn’t actually recorded by me, it was recorded by my friend Milly talking to her dad in Corsica. And the wonderful score is by Hayley Suviste. I hope you liked it.

Storyteller: Okay, well my story sounds when I was a child, and we used to go on holiday to Corsica. I was 11 12, 13. We went several times and I fell in love with the place. And when we went for the last time, I swore to myself that I would go back as soon as I could. So I went back to Corsica.

And there I met a professor from the University of California and his students, who were working in the exact same field as I was doing my Masters. So we became friends. And I was back to the next year to start on my PhD research, and they were back too. And the third year we were together at the research station. Bob, the professor at University of California, before we left to go back, he asked me if I would be interested in coming to help him on a research programme in the Caribbean. So I didn’t say no! And there I went. Little did I know what would happen.

It was in 1988. And the place where his research programme was taking place was the Saint Croix Island. Which is a very small, quite long but very narrow island. Somewhere between Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe or something like that yeah. A few weeks after I arrived in Saint Croix, the weather forecast said, “Attention Attention! A hurricane is coming!” Indeed, the next day it started pouring down with rain. Very thick cloud cover. By mid-afternoon, it was like night it was so dark. And then electricity went off. So, well, I had a couple of candles. And the wind I started howling and howling. And at some point I thought, I’ve seen what a hurricane was and I guess this is what it is. Because all the others said “come with us in the in refuge”. Because they had a special hurricane refuge.  I said “I’m not going to bury myself down like a rat. I want to see that!”. And I thought “well yeah, I’ve seen it now. It’s okay, okay now”.

But in fact, it was only the beginning.

It got so strong that at some point the French window leading out onto the terrace from the kitchen just blew away. Disappeared. Disappeared.

After a while, suddenly there was no wind anymore. I thought “Finally!”. I came out and then a few minutes later it started again. In fact, the eye of the hurricane had just passed over the island. That’s why the wind had dropped completely, suddenly started again. At some point I started hearing strange noises. It was like, “plink pling plink”. It took me a while to realise what it was.  And what it was, was that it had started raining stones. The wind was so strong. But then, I heard noise that was different. It was like tearing sounds. I realised it was the tiles of the roof coming off. So I thought “ah well, this is it. That’s it. If it goes with the storms raining. I’m going to turn into mincemeat and that’s the end of me. I’m dead. I’m dead.”.

So I just sat on the sofa and thought “well, okay, I’m dead. There’s nothing I can do.”. But luckily, under the tiles, the roof tiles, there were planks. And those somehow stayed.  I don’t understand because there was a house just next to mine. And when I looked out in the morning, it was flattened down. And there was a house on the other side which has disappeared completely. Except the fridge. There was nothing else, everything had disappeared. The walls, the roof, everything. But the fridge was there.

And yeah, so that’s I thought I was dead, but I didn’t.

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