We only made one anchorage here, in Portsmouth, where it is very windy and rather rolly. However, this is more or less the case for all the other moorings on the island.
We barely had the time to cast our anchor before a “boat boy” pulled up to us. His name was Sam, and he spoke fluent French. He immediately offered his services as a guide to take us on excursions on the island or to head up the Indian River from this same bay.
In September of 2017, Dominica was hit hard by hurricane Maria and numerous traces of this devastating event remained. Certain constructions on the beach were entirely destroyed, while others had no roofs, palm trees were lying down on the beach, and the wooden docks were completely destroyed.
In the city of Portsmouth, the spectacle was still just as devastating, six months after the hurricane. Numerous houses still had no roofs, while others had nothing more than a wall or two. Electrical wires were hanging everywhere alongside the houses and on the sidewalk. Rebuilding was taking place here and there along the street. In spite of everything, the atmosphere was nice and the people smiling and welcoming.
In the centre of town, we found an inexpensive little place to eat. For me, it was the chicken soup with cassava, squash and sweet potato, and for Laurent and the children, the same vegetables, but this time wrapped in flat bread, called roti.
In the afternoon, we went hiking with Sam, the guide, who took us to the foot of an immense waterfall. During our hike, he presented all the plants that we passed along the way. He asked us to smell them, and sometimes to taste them, to the great delight of the children, who loved the wild strawberries. We walked regularly in the riverbed, opportunities that the children could not resist to splash us joyously!
In the car, as we were returning to the bay where we had anchored, we passed in front of an immense stockpile of all the tin roofs that had been blown off during the hurricane. There were a number of piles like that on the island, and visibly, some were even bigger. Nearly all the tin roofs had blown off, sometimes projected several kilometres from their point of departure. The winds here had reached between 340 and 400 km/h. Observing all the damage that was still present, and listening to the stories from people who lived through these terrible moments, we tried to imagine what the people of Dominica felt during Hurricane Maria. I am convinced, though, that we were still far from the reality. Numerous people lost everything, whether during the hurricane, or in the days that followed, as there were multiple pillages.
The next day, still accompanied by our guide, Sam, we left to discover the Indian River. We headed up this river, rowing, since it is a national park reserve in which the use of motors is prohibited. Mangrove trees and a few tall trees that survived the hurricane bordered the river. We passed by the vestiges of a backdrop from The Pirates of the Caribbean, then, finally we arrived at a dock leading to a little bar surrounded by a luxurious tropical garden.
We were truly enchanted by this trip, as much by the beautiful landscapes as by the welcoming spirit of the locals, who were doing all they could to rebuild and restore their tourism economy.
Life on board continued peacefully on Zanzibar. The children were brimming with imagination, always coming up with new games. They were like little savages, living in the fresh air, with a continual thirst for discovering new places.
We will soon be returning to France, but only to leave again, one day or another, that is quite certain!