Jasmine Jno Baptiste on Returning to Dominica #AfterMaria

After a six hour ferry ride and a five hour lay over in Portsmouth, I finally made it to my destination; to the nature island that seemed to have been disguised as a war zone.

On my way home (that jaw dropping 15 minutes), I remember my friend’s words ‘Jasmine be prepared for this mentally’ but in truth I wasn’t. The mass decimation of homes was depressing, and you realise, telling those who live here to ‘be strong’ are merely words of comfort but you never truly understand until you have experienced it.

The long lines for gasoline/diesel caused traffic back up and what used to be a ten-

Long lines for gasoline.
(Jasmine Jno Baptiste Photo)

minute drive would turn into hours. Houses that you never saw along the road sides were exposed by the naked stems that stood alone hoping to be brought back to life – a neighbourhood had become extended.

Walking through the streets of the town, the stench was unbearable and residents had on dust masks to try to mask whatever it was clogging up the fresh air that we once breathed on the nature island of the Caribbean. But on the plus side, I came home to a delectable smoked chicken broth (they joke and said that that’s all they’ve been eating since Maria) as requested, because my mom always tries her best to make me happy when it comes to preparing her meals.

Post eating we sat, chatted (they reiterated their experience of Hurricane Maria and its forceful winds) and reminisce on the things I had missed out on. You realise then that social media (WiFi and data) have been causing such segregation causing us to be totally anti-social.

Residents get water from a station set up for potable water. (Jasmine Jno Baptiste Photo)

When we decided it was bath time, we loaded into two vehicles and headed for the nearest river, where on the way, you see a station, set up for drinkable water with long lines – people waiting to quench their thirst after this long, hot, dusty day, and others who were just leaving the river after a refreshing river bath. We were not alone there, but we made the best of the gushing cold water and the silver moonlight as we submerged in the river and enjoyed every moment of the refreshingly amazing water, one even dancing and cheerfully singing, trying their best to embrace the change in lifestyle.

Dominica is not what it used to be and it will take many, many years to rebuild. But I know, there are some people who, even with the option to migrate decide to stay behind and make this country what it once was – the nature island of the Caribbean. We may have been stripped of our beauty, but it is only temporary, just a glitch in the development progress but rest assured Dominica shall rebuild.

 

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