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.