Riding Out the Storm, Dominica

Getting off Amsterdam in Roseau, Dominica, a steel band played calypso to the counterpoint groaning and rasping of the ship rising and falling against its fenders. Beyond the harborside soundscape you plunge into the real thing.  A rich mix of reggae, tropical dance and hip hop coming from every shop, punctuated by conversations in a Bajan style lilt.  Then the whole soundscape lights up with a sudden burst of energy when school kids get out for recess.

Dominica has about 75,000 citizens, a third of them live in Roseau.  Roseau is a town in the midst of, what looks like a perpetual traffic jam.  Its buildings have louvered windows, bright colors and carpenter Gothic gingerbread.

The island is mountainous and hosts a rain forest that is just beginning to recover after being uprooted by Hurricane Maria.  It also has a boiling lake.  We opted not to take a cab through the rain forest and getting to the the boiling lake is a several mile trek through rough terrain so we opted to walk through Rosseau, past shops, churches and schools, to the botanical garden. 

In 2017 the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria, the same storm that wrecked Puerto Rico.  It has sustained winds of 165 MPH.  The government reported that 98% of the rooves in the country were damaged and 50% of the buildings had structural damage.  It destroyed the entire year’s crop of bananas.  The recovery is not complete with still roofless buildings. 

But we also saw many buildings with brightly colored new roofs.  Several blocks up from the harbor, near the Methodist and Catholic High Schools, the Girl Guides have painted murals with inspiring sayings and warnings. 

The botanical gardens were lovely despite the damage from Maria.

Being neither mad dogs or Englishmen Suzi and I opted to go back to the ship during the midday sun after a couple of hours of rambling but we ventured out again in the afternoon to visit a market off King George street that has been in the same location for 300 years with a stop at Flossie’s Supermarket to pick up some things that we didn’t  bring with us.  We wandered back to the ship through streets packed with cars apparently going nowhere and not very worried about it.

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