The Jacoway Inn, Dominica : Storming Back To Business, Part 3
The day before Cat 5 Hurricane Maria hit Dominica on the night of September 17th 2017, views from the lovely gardens of Jacoway Inn were somewhat restricted by the tall hedges of shrubs and trees, providing shade and privacy.
This changed overnight, and now eight months later the property boundaries of bright oranges, yellows and greens of tall crotons are regrown. Before long, overlooking the surrounding banana gardens and the few neighbouring homes will only be possible from the upper floors of the Inn.
The once magnificent flamboyant had been entirely blown over, and the dead roots are now slight humps on the lawn, and yet there is a new tree growing not far from the old one. The sense of regeneration and newness is everywhere in this completely reborn property. Some of the plants and trees have local names, there was the ‘Dutch Iris’, ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’, and we are introduced to ‘Gina’s Flower’, evidently a gift to Carol Ann from her friend Gina who loved it but had no idea of its botanical nomenclature! If there is a reader out there who can identify it, we would be grateful for the education.
In secret corners of the garden around the house we found a magnificent spider lily. It had been torn out by the angry wind and flung aside leafless and exposed, and yet there it is, a perfect specimen, shy in the peaceful shade of the house wall.
The humming birds are returned! In the early aftermath of the storm we put out sugar water hangers on the verandahs for the few, straggling survivors. They flew in, one by one, day by day and sat for hours on logs and trees in the vicinity of the feeders, looking dishevelled and dazed, guarding the sugar water hangers lest they too disappeared along with the flowers. The humming birds stayed for just over a month becoming stronger and more aggressive with each other which is a good sign of their normal behaviour, until suddenly they disappeared from the mountain gardens. We thought they had finally succumbed to the stress and shock and were gone forever. We waited watchfully, hopefully, some flowers like the ginger lilies were back again by week four and five, so there were already natural sources of food for them.
Then suddenly we got word that there were humming birds a-plenty down along the coast. They had migrated to the warmer, lower slopes and seaside areas on the Caribbean side where the plants were coming back quicker than on the steeper hinterland where there was less water, and fewer flowers. After the storm, without the rainforest canopy ecosystem attracting rain, there was very little rainfall to water the barren countryside. The humming bird populations were decimated but they are slowly rebuilding, and its such a pleasure to see them, albeit in much smaller numbers, back on the hillside gardens across Dominica and here at Jacoway Inn amongst their favourite ginger lilies.
It seems that the wild Jaco Parrots survived much better than the smaller birds. Carol Ann named Jacoway Inn after the overhead flight path of the lovely, noisy big birds as they fly between the higher forested mountain areas down to the more cultivated slopes below her property where they like to graze, uninvited, on the citrus orchards. Magnificent and vibrant with colour, they are a sight to behold as they fly in pairs or small groups overhead, often shrieking raucously to each other.
Somewhere in the valley below we hear a conchshell being sounded like a trumpet. Its the universal island call from a fisherman to let the community know he has just landed a fresh catch, and to come buy! This is another one of those welcome life-affirming sounds that means things are being restored to normal. After the storm almost all the fishing boats were destroyed or heavily damaged, and we had no fresh fish for several months.
Our hostess pours a second cup of coffee, and presses us with more of her delicious cake.
Carol-Ann has fought to bring her beloved gardens and surroundings around the rental part of her property and her pretty little wooden home next door, that she shares with best friend and partner Nickie. To say she is tired would clearly not be true, but she is ready for a change from rebuilding and entertaining her weekly paying guests who continue to book into the Inn. Nevertheless it would break her heart to leave her home!
She has therefore, finally, decided to sell the Inn set in its beautiful gardens and the quiet, cool gazebo. Somewhere on our noble planet, there dwells a kindred spirit who dreams of stepping into a turnkey Caribbean island business with a great reputation and a good income, and the perfect neighbourly neighbour! Now the search is on!