since some days I am now on Dominica and actually I have already fallen in love with this island on day 1. Maybe it's because everything here reminds me a bit of Tanzania and that's what I lost my heart to.
I actually know that I can travel quite well alone, but my last trip, which I had made alone, is already a few years ago. The last 5 weeks in company were very beautiful and also easygoing - So I was very curious how I would feel to be all by myself again. And yes, I had respect for it, but at the same time I was looking forward to the adventure and to meeting new people. And Dominika welcomed me with open arms. I am very happy and grateful to have gotten such a great start for my trip here. I'm writing 'start of the journey', because it feels different since Dominica. Until now it felt like a holiday, but now it is a journey...
The island has a very hard fate to bear and was mowed down by Hurricane Maria. 90% of all buildings were damaged, a large number of people became homeless and many lost their jobs because many companies, shops, restaurants, hotels and bars as well as 100% of the agriculture were simply destroyed. I will describe the hurricane stories in a separate article with collected stories.
Now a review of my first day in Dominica:
When the ferry arrived, it was already getting dark and until I got through the immigration, it was finally pitch-black. The guesthouse was only a 10 minute walk away, so I turned down all the taxi drivers and marched off. Even though it was dark streets and alleys, I had a good and safe feeling. Finally I arrived at the guesthouse. I rang the bell - nobody opens it, I knocked - nobody opens it... Rang it again, knocked again, then knocked even louder - nothing. The contact phone numbers didn't work from my phone. So there I was: standing in the dark in front of the guesthouse on the road for the first 3 hours alone. But then luck in misfortune - a guest came home and let me in. He reached the owner who came right after 5 minutes. They hadn't received my confirmation email and waited until 7pm when I wasn't there, they thought I wasn't coming. How could they know my stupid ferry is an hour late?
Erol, the owner welcomed me very warmly and brought me to a sports bar where I got something to eat. There he told me that the next morning he would go north to the church and if I wanted I could come along.
So the next morning I was picked up with a minibus by Erol, his wife and two women: Vanessa and Tatjana. On the way we first brought two family bags of food and then drove about 1.5 hours to the northeast to Marigot. Here I got an impression of the extent of the destruction on the island: Fallen power poles, destroyed houses, broken and bare trees. Finally we arrived at the church. It looked a bit like a retail store, because the lectern was full of food, detergent, etc... Before the service began, people came to me and greeted me personally and said that they were happy that I was visiting their church today. To my surprise, Erol was the preacher in the church. Here I was officially welcomed once again. I was also taken as an example for the sermon on the subject of fear and how to overcome it: "If Stefanie had let herself be guided by the fear that Dominica was so destroyed after the hurricane, she would never have met the wonderful people here" :) Many songs were sung and thanks to the songbook I was right in the middle, not just there.
Erol then also explained that all the things in the front part of the church were donations from people in the US for the church and that they were distributed to the individual families. After the service, I was able to help distributing the food to the individual parcels. This gave me a very nice feeling of community.
Afterwards we drove an old lady to the neighbouring village. Here a beautiful situation occurred: In the neighborhood of the old lady, a group of tourists just entered a destroyed house together with a guide. And for me it felt like this group of visitors see life on Dominica from the outside, while I am already a part of it.
After that we went back to Marigot for lunch with the James family, who we had met at the church. The food was delicious. There was a buffet with spaghetti, pasta casserole, beans, rice with raisins, grilled chicken with tasty sauce, casava-like cuts and salad. Yummy. So we sat, ate and talked. Many of the stories were about what happened during and after the hurricane. The grandfather also told the family that he had never experienced a comparable storm.
That afternoon Vanessa asked who wants to go down to the sea, because she collected seaweed to fertilize her plants, with which she makes her own soaps. So we were collecting seaweed. After that, back at the James house we had chocolate cake. After a beautiful day, we drove back to Roseau and I fell dead tired and happy into bed.
I am not sure if my hosts - although I told them - are aware of how much this day meant to me and how much they made my start on my solo trip easier. It was like a stepping stone into a new world.