The Jacoway Inn, Dominica : Storming Back To Business, Part 2
Inland, behind the bayside village of Calibishie resides the main part of a very international community along the several spectacular ridges and valleys which lead down to the beach and bay. New, architecturally designed expensive homes are dotted along the ridge summits amongst banana gardens, grazing cattle, and borderless, family smallholdings, enjoying panoramic views to the village below and the Atlantic beyond.
Up here, the hurricane blasted trees take their time to grow new branches, but on the ground, good husbandry has ensured that all the massive, dead branches have been cleared away and recycled elsewhere.
Carol Ann’s property, is also sparsely surrounded by family lands farmed for a century or more, with small homes tucked discreetly and quietly behind banana and floral gardens. Her newest, friendly neighbour is a nurse, building her small home on family land.
The road in front of Jacoway Inn is so perfect engineered that its almost impossible to believe it is a Dominican road. A smooth flat surface which we admire covetously, leading to several more homes and then ending abruptly. Another one of those unaccountable universal laws; perfectly made roads going nowhere, the odd sock mystery, and the lost world of millions of pencils. The 360 views from here to the mountains of the Dominica Northern RainForest Reserve, the Atlantic Ocean, and the islands of Marie Galante, Isles des Saintes and Guadeloupe and everything in between, is heady stuff, like pure oxygen or a glass of something clear, cool and bubbly!
The gardens at Jacoway Inn are breathtaking! Like so many others on Dominica, eight months ago they were a wasteland of destruction. Years of tender loving care and attention gone in a few hours, pulled up by unseen pitiless giant hands.
The Travellers Palms were torn to ribbons, but remained standing, and just recently they had their first post-hurricane haircut. The immensely tall strong Royal Palms stood their ground and their lofty attitude, as they gaze imperturbably out to sea like lookouts for the ghosts of a Spanish Galleon or a Kalinago dugout, says ‘Hurricane? What hurricane!”.
The beautiful rare Bismark Palm lost everything except its root and lower trunk, and for a while it was feared that it would finally succumb to shock, but suddenly in the last few months it has put out new strong leaves. According to Carol Ann, there are only two other Bismark Palms on the island.
A beautiful miniature palm with a ball shaped trunk sits in its own patch of grass and yet it had been almost lost, found almost ripped from the ground and shattered by heavy branches from the huge old mango which holds court once again in the centre of the garden.
The ancient mango also survived, and is already back providing much needed shade for the many smaller interesting flowers and shrubs planted around the great roots.
Here there are ferns, different varieties of yellow and green crotons, ginger lilies, a gardenia and a shy little orchid trailing up the trunk of the tree of the grand old tree.
The casuarina which was no more than a stump in the ground clung on and is already providing shade again at the entrance to the property.
Carol-Ann who has provided bed and breakfast at Jacoway Inn since she built it in 2007-8, sat us down at a rectangular glass metal and glass table inside the gazebo, and offered us fresh coffee and slices of delicious home-baked cake. The heavy table at which we sat had been lifted by the vicious wind, flown out from under the gazebo roof and landed upside down in the garden beyond, entirely undamaged! Another one of those many hundreds of stories we all share about survival and revival and small miracles that have ruled our lives for these past months.
The gazebo had once been draped and perfumed with honeysuckle but that has gone, and she has yet to find new shoots to replant. The Brazilian Golden Rose was not expected to live, the tree had been ripped out of the ground and was all but horizontal, and yet here it was pruned and propped and nursed back to life. We saw the first new exotic flowers at the end of small new branches, small pleasures but none the less lifegiving.
Part of a wooden verandah roof had been ripped away and landed not too far from the upside down glass table, and has since been creatively recycled by our irrepressible hostess in situ into a vegetable and herb nursery. As Carol Ann says, “its much easier to stand up to plant seeds and look after them, and so nice for my back!”. Its a colourful addition with the rows and rows of young plants with which she feeds her enthusiastic guests at her famous breakfasts.
Two of her lime trees made it through, several guavas and pineapples also. She delights in being able to use her garden produce again, and in other areas we saw cabbage, broccoli and tomatoes doing well.