As Dominica continued to recover from the devastating after-effects caused by Tropical Storm Erika, this year’s Independence
activities reflected the overall mood of the nation with quiet celebrations and ongoing efforts to rebuild the country.
I was on-island for about a month before I ventured beyond the environs of Roseau. My neighbour’s mother, with whom I was acquainted had recently passed away
and I honoured her memory by attending her funeral in Wesley, on the northeast coast of the island. Buses had been organized to take attendees across the mountainous interior, and I was fortunate to take a front seat for the best view of the terrain. Of course, my camera was in hand, as I was curious to capture the current state of the land one month after my return.
While major landslides had been cleared, there was still evidence of instability with occasional mounds of dirt and stones blocking one
lane of the interior highway. As well, this main road had been undermined in several locations where it followed along the course of powerful rivers, such as the Layou and the Laurent near Bells, deep in the Heart of Dominica. Restoration works were also well underway around the perimeter of Douglas-Charles
Airport at Melville Hall, following the repair and reopening of the runway where I had safely landed a few weeks earlier.
When I arrived at Wesley, I joined hundreds of others at the Catholic Church in that village for the funeral of Theresa Gordon. We collectively paid tribute to a lady who was obviously very well respected by all who knew her or her immediate family. Despite the sadness of the occasion, it was clearly evident to me that feelings of love and good will prevailed. I think that ‘Ma Gordon”, as I called her, would have been very happy about that and I was moved by the positive atmosphere that surrounded me there. I was reminded once again, that despite tragedy and loss, Dominicans are a very resilient people who determinedly ‘carry on’, no matter what challenges they have endured!
This year, persistent inclement weather put a bit of a damper on Creole Day
festivities, but it did not prevent me from enjoying delicious traditional foods, especially the vegetarian and fish varieties. And I always enjoy the seasonal fashions, created with bright madras fabrics, although I was more subdued with my style of dress this year. The spirit of the season was definitely ‘out there’, but in a low key and respectful
It is my usual annual habit to breakfast at Cartwheel Café on the Bayfront in Roseau. The staff is consistently in high spirits, and clients always seem to be in a Creole mood as they eat and chat with each other, which suits me fine!
I devoured my codfish and breadfruit breakfast there, then wandered the streets searching for the Creole spirit. I did find it here and there, and took pleasure from conversations with friends and strangers. When it began to rain more heavily,
I purchased a large cup of tangy pomme-citan juice and an avocado vegan accras ‘bake’ from Stone Love Ital Shop. Then I picked up a few slices of rum cake and banana cake from the Urban Garden Café around the corner before heading home to savour these treats a little later. (More on those two wonderful natural foods eateries in the next post!)
I do confess to indulging in a delicious vegetarian pizza at Fusion Village Restaurant in the heart of Roseau the next day.
objective was to meet and spend time with good friends with whom I hadn’t really connected since my return from Canada. Our lengthy lunch and catch-up certainly added to my personal enjoyment of this unique Creole Season. Thanks Nancy and Liz!
Independence celebrations were far from over, but the highlight for me was the special fundraising concert that I had the pleasure of attending on the Freewinds Cruise Ship on Sunday November 1st.At this auspicious occasion, internationally renowned Dominican singer Michele Henderson offered her talents, along with the Freewinds band and other first class musicians from the Nature Island in aid of the Kai & Vickie Kids’ Charity, which
supports underprivileged children locally.
As usual, this amazing artiste delivered a world-class performance to the delight of the enthralled audience, comprised of local politicians, foreign diplomats, citizens, expatriates and children. Michele has the uncanny ability to easily cross musical genres, and as such everyone got a taste of different styles of local and popular music. I love it all, but I am partial to Dominica’s cadence, which is a specialty of this exceptional lyricist, composer and singer. To her credit, she also surprised us by presenting some rising stars on the Nature Isle, and everyone appreciated their obvious potential.
With a few hundred people filling the performance space, and an
auction of some enticing goods and services, I am certain that this charity raised several thousand dollars. These monies will directly aid children who were adversely affected by T.S. Erika in numerous ways.
It’s impossible to walk away from a Michele Henderson performance (and I’ve been fortunate to have heard her countless times over the years) without feeling inspired, uplifted, joyful and hopeful. Music of that calibre has a way of bringing people together, which was most fitting for the mood of this unique Independence season on Dominica.
Because I did get chilled in the a/c on the ship and then walked a distance through a persistent drizzle in the cool night air, I did succumb to the sniffles the next day. By Independence morning, I was ‘under the weather’, so I gave those official festivities a miss this year. However, if you’d like to see some photos, you can find them on Dominica News Online for November 3, 2015.
By the next morning, I was thankful to have rested the day before, as it was National Day of Community Service and I had made a pact with myself that I would do something for my neighbourhood. I am not much good at hoisting a shovel, but I can certainly put on a back pack filled with garbage bags – and that is what I did. It was a hot, humid morning, and I was guaranteed a healthy sweat – just what I needed. I started at the top of the main road in my subdivision and worked my way down to the junction at the bottom of the hill, which is part of my usual walking route. If I did this stretch at a normal pace, it would take me half an hour total to go down and back up to my home. But with rubber gloves, hiking boots, and four and a half garbage bags filled with curb-side debris, the activity actually took over three hours. Although I was really fatigued by this exercise, I felt good that perhaps I had made a tiny difference on my beloved Nature Island . There were many formal projects taking place all over the country, and significant numbers came out to lend a hand. I got the distinct impression that the tragedies and losses incurred as a result of T.S. Erika, prompted people to pull together to restore Dominica to her former glory.
After a good rest, I ended my energetic day with a refreshing and relaxing ‘sea bath’ as the sun set on Independence 2015. I floated on the calm and soothing waters, and reflected on the power of hope and the realization that Dominica shall indeed renew herself, and rise again.