Light/Breezes

Light/Breezes
SUNRISE AT DEATH VALLEY-Photo by Tom Cochrun

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

HOPING FOR THE BEST



   Dominica is one of my favorite places. The little volcano mount rising out of the eastern Caribbean in the Leeward Islands is one of the more untouched places in our hemisphere. It has now been crushingly touched by Hurricane Maria. 

   Structures like this cannot fare well in a Category 5 storm.
Dominica appeals to me for its lack of development. It is natural, native, local and unpretentious.  It is the "Nature Island" and great place to immerse in nature and away from commercialism.
    Documentary and news assignments allowed me to spend a lot of time in the Caribbean. The people of Dominica were among the most genuine and hardworking I've encountered. 
     Fishing is a major source of income and the small boats and harbors the Dominicans workout have been seriously assaulted. 
       Awaiting casualty reports and other news I reviewed memories and shots taken during an assignment on Dominica.
       Late one evening my colleagues and I were having dinner at a local family restaurant on the main street when we heard a cacophony below. Car horns, drums and other percussion sounds. It was late and we were the only people in the place when the waitress and cook began a nervous dialogue rich in patois. 
       What is it I asked?
       "Oh my, it tis Lapo Kabwit" she said, "not allowed now."
      It was a growing crowd of dancers and chanters moving through the darkened street. They were led by a drummer playing a tambou le'le' and they were dancing backwards.
       Someone had connected a car horn to a battery and others were banging sticks creating an African-Caribbean rhythm.
     At the time of this assignment Lapo Kabwit-an hypnotic sort of Carnival dance was forbidden because there had been outbreaks of knife fighting and violence.
      We left our dinner on the table and took gear in hand to join the snaking crowd under a clear star field and to record the event.
      Our hostess was pleased we returned safely and she warmed our meal. Eventually Lapo Kabwit was allowed to return to a formal Carnival celebration, but authorities frowned on the spontaneous late night eruptions. I could never square the idea of Dominicans fighting with each other as they are people who seem to appreciate the rare peace and beauty they enjoy.
      Now I worry about their well being and their long road back.

     See you down the trail.
     

15 comments:

  1. Nice to see the Nineteenth Star team in action-- Thinking of Ben and hope his family is well.

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    1. Jill-Wonderful to hear from you. Yes, I had some good thoughts about Ben as I looked at the file. He would be a grand dad. We stay in touch with Yeleana.
      Does all that seem like a century ago?
      Peace and Cheers to you.

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  2. Those are amazing pictures and really intriguing stories. I've never heard of some of these islands that are suffering from the recent hurricanes. It sounds like a couple - like Barbuda - will never be the same. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. It will a long time before the area gets back to it's serene self.

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  3. I learn so much here, Tom. Thank you for furnishing data though a journalist's eye for my further research.

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  4. The supervisor of the janitorial staff at the Prudential Tower in Boston was from Dominica. Over the years he hired as many of his countrymen and women he could find in New England. As Eddie Mulally (Irish immigrant, ex Boston cop, head of uniformed security at the Pru) said, "Hell lad, all the immigrants hire their own. That's why there were always so many Micks on the cops." The custodial staff was great, light hearted and hard working.

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    1. Those people we met and worked with on our assignments were joyful.

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  5. These are difficult times, and because of global warming I fear these hurricanes will become stronger and more frequent. I fear posterity will judge us harshly for not addressing climate change when we could.

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    1. I share your view. It seems preposterous we have the data and the reality in front of us but we refuse to act.

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  6. Thanks for sharing a wonderful memory and giving a "face" to what had only been a word. Hard to see how many of these tiny "paradises" will rebound. Pray they do ! Can't help but contrast this with the Ken Burns "Viet Nam" visuals of little known places and names.

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    1. Thanks Griff. I've been watching the Viet Nam series closely.

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  7. Journalism took us to many places, people and events. We were lucky to have been "there" at the time we were.

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