Sunday, 02 September 2007
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Chronologically, I actually have another story to tell you first but the developments here have their own way so let’s get the last 2 days dealt with first.

It’s Month End once again and as you might or might not know that always puts us beancounters in a strange mood. Glad that there are many beans to count on the one hand, however dreading all the work of producing some numbers that most people then won’t like on the other.

This always reminds me of my favorite definition of an accountant:

An accountant is someone who solves a problem you didn’t know you had in a way you don’t understand. Very true.

Month End always means long hours, stress, pressure and god knows what else. This is my second month end in Curacao and it is getting a little better in terms of finding my way around things. Nowhere near what I’m used to, but then it’s also a little more relaxed here. So far so good.

But then God probably thought: Hey, let’s not make it all too boring and let’s better give him something to write home about.

So he came up with this:

What you see here is the path of Hurricane Felix that developed Friday night somewhere off the coast of Grenada.

Friday night it was actually only what meteorologists call a Tropical Storm, but it was upgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane on Saturday and later to a Category 2 in the early hours of this morning.

The ABC islands (yes, Curacao is the C) are the 3 small dots in the blue Hurricane Zone above Venezuela.

Now, as I have pointed out to some of you on various occasions Curacao normally lies below the Hurricane belt and we don’t get Hurricanes here. This is the reason why suddenly the whole island turned crazy. The last hurricane they had was 2 years ago and supposedly it was quite bad and nobody wants a repeat of that.

So, while I was posting journals and doing “normal” Month End stuff on Saturday, my boss and the rest of the Leadership Team of the hotel were preparing for the hurricane. All equipment at the beach and any Food & Beverage outlets outside (which in this resort is all of them with the exception of a cocktail bar and a coffee shop) was collected and transferred inside. Fuel for generators was checked and all available staff was called in. Letters to guests were distributed, torches and radios given out and all the other stuff you can do when you something big, wet and windy is coming was done.

Initially it was supposed to hit sometime between midnight and 5am on Sunday, but that prediction became later and later.

Our Systems Manager is currently away on a conference in Chile, so guess who the back-up is. Correct, good ol’ me. Good that I know so much about UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), Server Backups, Data Tapes etc. NOT.

So after getting a couple of hours sleep at home, I go back to the hotel at 3am to make sure $200,000 of servers are safe.

No way I wanted to be stuck at home anyway. Having only moved in on Wednesday and with all my gear still in boxes I was nowhere near prepared for something like this (that’s not quite true actually; I might not have any candles, torches, food or anything else useful, but I do have a supply of beer, rum and coke as well as a bottle opener and a glass, so really, how serious could it get?).

By the time I leave home it is already raining. And one thing is for sure, hurricanes do know their rain (it will end up dropping about 20 cm of rain).

I listen to the radio on the way and I have to say they do a good job here. All the announcements are in 4 languages and so even people like me can hear and understand whether they will survive the night or not. By this time it is now a Category 2 Hurricane and the centre is supposed to pass about 60km northwards Curacao which I hear is not all that much distance.

I spend the next half hour covering the phone switch and the 2 server racks with plastic foil (the roof in this hotel is not to be trusted) and hope that should it all go down that we can bring the systems back up. At this stage it rains, but otherwise it is spookily quiet. Apparently not a good sign either. However, we do have electricity so nothing to worry about at this point.

I then go back to Month End work. Let me tell you, you have no idea how much you can get done at 4 am.

It seems there are more people in Housekeeping and Engineering than during the day as well as the General Manager and the Hotel Manager milling around so they really don’t need me there.

The wind eventually starts at about 5:30am, but it’s far less serious than expected. Yes, it blows quite a bit, but I can easily say I have been outside back home with the fire brigade during far more intense storms clearing streets and railroad tracks.

I’ve tried to capture the scene in a few pictures, but I guess it does not really convey the wind. Trust me though, our lobby does not look like this normally.

This is the Lobby view we are normally so famous for:


The outlet you see next is actually aptly named Seabreeze…





Anyway, it all blows over and while we they do close the airport and stuff, there is no major damage or casualties. At no point did we lose power or the water or gas supply. The only thing is that half of the nice sand on our beach is gone and that’ll cost to refill.

One idiot guest obviously has to go for a swim in the ocean while “the surf’s up”, but I don’t even move when the excited chatter over the radio starts. He can drown alright for all I care.


But hey, whatever. Another day, another Month End.

On the upside, even with all the stuff going on, I have a full first draft of the P&L distributed and some of my Balance Sheet reconciliations done by the time I go home around noon on the second. I also know that people here really care about their hotel and the guests in their care, so what more can I ask for.

I’m also glad it happened the time it happened as normally stuff like this happens when I’m supposed to travel.


Now I’m looking forward to getting the rest of Month End out of the way and then getting home to Germany on Thursday. Hoping and looking forward to seeing some of you this weekend on the various weddings, the Herbstfest or back in London next week.


Have a good week.

Sunday, 02 September 2007 02:39:07 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  |