Words by Jesse Serwer
Photos by Martei Korley
Like many, we were deeply troubled by the images coming out of Dominica following last week’s tropical storm. More than any other place in her path, Erika battered the Nature Island, causing flooding that left 30 people dead, with many still missing. The damage to roads, homes and businesses could set the island nation’s progress back 20 years, according to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.
The pictures of flattened houses and flipped-over cars seen in the news are in stark contrast to the vibrant images we captured on this picturesque island three years ago. In the fall of 2012, LargeUp was privileged to spend several weeks in Dominica. Incidentally, our visit coincided with another devastating storm, Hurricane Sandy, whose path up the East Coast of the U.S. left us “stranded” in a then-tranquil Dominica. Yeah, we were stuck alright—stuck in a place with some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet, and some of the friendliest, vibes-iest people to enjoy it with.
With the assistance of the Discover Dominica Authority and our driver, the inimitable Jenner Robinson, we did our best to touch every corner of the island, from the cultural hub of Grand Bay in the South to the the primeval Indian River in the north, as LargeUp creative director, co-founder and chief photographer Martei Korley documented every moment. Since then, we’ve published several series of photographs that Martei took on that trip. However, many of the best images have not been seen.
The silver lining here is that we have some brilliant shots to share, with the hope that they will draw attention to the relief efforts currently underway in Dominica. We went deep into our archives to dig out a set of images that would capture the full breadth of the Nature Island, from the volcanic isle’s topographical wonders to the cultural diversity of its people. We hope these images will shed light on what this beautiful place looked like before the storm, and how we hope it will look again very, very soon.
Scroll through, and see below for information on how you can donate to Dominica.
Bouyon is currently the most popular of Dominica’s homegrown musical styles, and with hits such as “Bounce It” and “I Know People,” Asa Bantan is the most visible proponent of the uptempo genre. We photographed him in his hometown of Grand Bay. The “South City” is Dominica’s cultural capital, home to many of the island’s most notable musicians and performers, such as Paul “Chubby” Mark of the Midnight Groovers.
Bouyon fans in a frenzy at the World Creole Music Festival in Roseau. Set at the end of Dominica’s Creole celebrations in October, WCMF is a highlight of the Dominican cultural calendar, and one of the Eastern Caribbean’s largest music festivals, with an emphasis on creole music genres, from zouk to zydeco.
The Kalinago people of Dominica are thought to be the last remaining native population in the Caribbean. Though Kalinago traditions were largely eroded through years of colonialism, they are actively being revived in the Kalinago territory, a semi-autonomous region on the island’s east coast. This young man is a member of Kalinago Dancers, one of three groups from the territory that perform traditional Kalinago dances at cultural events across the island.
Kalinago Bara Aute, which means “Kalinago village by the sea,” was established as a community center for the Kalinago in 2006. The property provides a base for craftsmakers and offers tours to visitors seeking a glimpse into the Kalinago way of life. .
Daniel Frederick and his famous Cassava bread. Frederick’s roadside bakery in the Kalinago Territory is a popular stop among Dominicans eager for their first taste of home after arriving at the nearby Melville Hall airport.
Master canoe builder Merlin Stoute and son at work outside their workshop in the Kalinago territory. Stoute is regarded throughout the Eastern Caribbean for the craftsmanship of his seafaring boats. Canoes play a prominent role in Kalinago history; it was on vessels not unlike this one that Carib people first arrived in the region from South America.
Dominica is said to be home to 365 rivers, one for each day in the year. Large, matted buttress roots give the narrow, shallow rivers on the island’s North side, like this one near the city of Portsmouth, a distinctive, primeval look.
Malia Constance models traditional Dominican Creole ladies wear, or wob dwiyet, at the Dominica Botanical Gardens in Roseau.
Whale watching is another popular pastime for tourists visiting Dominica. Whale-watching excursions don’t always produce encounters with hoped-for sperm whales, but the presence of dolphins is all but guaranteed on any such voyage.
A view across the bay to Soufriere from Galion, a mountainous village above Scott’s Head. Harvesting land crabs is the primary occupation in the village, which only became reachable by road in recent years.
The Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica has recognized and endorsed the following GoFundMe.com pages:
- T.S. Erika Relief Fund for Dominica (This fund is run by the Commonwealth of Dominica Ontario Association)
- Dominica-T.S. Erika Disaster Relief (This fund is run by the Dominica American Relief and Development Association, or DARDA)
A website has been set up at DominicaRelief.com to provide news and information on relief efforts.