Dominica, first Look.
10 November 2017
Boudah met us at the fishing dock. “Don't lock your dinghy, the fishermen may have to move it.” We didn't, it was sure to be there when we returned.
They met Kevin on the road to Kalinago and Laura, Nicholas and their cargo were deposited safely. Laura and Nicholas had a place to stay in Kalinago. I mentioned to them if accommodations weren't what they wanted, they were most welcome to stay on Uproar for the rest of the trip. We haven't heard from them, hope things are going well.
It was with apprehension that we toured the north end of Dominica with Boudah. We were shocked by the damage but Boudah's optimism shined through. “Everything will grow back, we are already getting trees to blossom. Ground vegetables are all OK, people will have food.” We first went to Boudah's house where his girlfriend and their daughter lived. We met Melihana when she was a year old. She is now 5 months older and quite shy around strangers. Boudah's only request was that we bring her shoes. We bought several pairs and he said they were perfect. The trees and vegetables he was growing were a shambles. But he was optimistic and working hard to get his crops growing again.
Boudah's was one of many tales of the hurricane that we have listened to. People want to talk about it. They want to share their fears, trauma and most of all survival. Boudah's house is a substantial two story concrete structure. They were upstairs until the roof blew off, they hurried downstairs but water was over the bottom step. The adjacent river Tonton had overflowed and was rushing through the first floor of the house. They huddled on the stairs all night throughout the hurricane! He said he was lucky the house wasn't completely washed away. He had replaced the roof from pieces he found around and some new panels but it still had a small leak. He felt lucky as many of his neighbors lost their houses right down to the foundation. The fact that he had no electricity didn't seem much of a concern.
Part of his roof was so twisted around one of his trees, he said there was no way it could be removed. Apparently there were tornadoes before and around the hurricane. I saw evidence of twisted off trees, something we find after Midwest hurricanes. Wherever we went, damage was the same. No areas were spared. Trees were uniformly stripped of leaves but some were budding again. It looked like the beginning of Spring after a tough Winter. Some houses seemed intact but most lost roofs. Some lost all. Boudah showed us a place where a house was swept away by a river, Five people died.
One touching scene was on a littered beach. Ten boys were cooking a meal over an open fire and sharing it. All had a dish of macaroni and local roots. They came to the van where we gave them packages with candy and small model airplanes. We had only eight but they shared. Boudah said, “They need to learn to cook so they can eat.” All had friendly smiles and were having fun. We later saw them playing basketball.
Everyone we met knew Boudah. All had smiles and optimism. But normalcy was a long way off. Boudah explained that a lot of aid was coming into Dominica. He said the Prime Minister was doing a great job getting the world to help Dominica. Aid was distributed to local ministers. There's where Boudah had disdain for the government. The local ministers were not always fair in distributing aid. Boudah said he was given nothing so far and doesn't expect he will receive any aid. He also said he was fine without.
We started the tour in early afternoon. Lisa and I had a nap in place of lunch. Later in the afternoon, I was hungry. I realized that it wasn't a bad thing to feel some hunger in light of what we were seeing. Boudah returned us to the dock after an eye opening tour. We will meet him in two days to travel to the Kalinago area. Lisa and I spent a quiet evening hardly able to talk about what we witnessed our first day on Dominica.