This was the scene a little more than a month ago –– a quiet stretch of beach in Cabarete on the north coast of the Dominican Republic; the very picture of calm before the storm.
What followed, of course, was pure chaos. Hurricane Irma was a day or so away; Hurricane Maria, just a few weeks beyond that. The lives of so many of our loved ones –– friends and family that call many of our favorite islands home –– would soon be disrupted, forever changed, or worse.
Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Culebra, Dominica, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten/St. Martin, St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, Vieques –– the list of islands hardest hit reads like a dream year of uncommon island-hopping. For those of us living outside of these special islands, though, those dreams would have to be put on hold.
Some of the plans we had for this site were also put on hold thanks to the recent storms, and not just because Irma knocked out power to our South Florida HQ for nearly a week while Patrick made a mad dash to squeeze onto the last flight of the DomRep soon after snapping the image above.
In recent weeks, our efforts have shifted away from telling our own stories to helping those enduring post-hurricane conditions to share their experiences with major mainstream news outlets (more on this soon) to speed up aid, while also contributing to the recovery ourselves.
At the same time, planned stories stemming from our past travels to many affected islands –– stories about places and experiences that we fear no longer exist –– had to shelved… at least for now.
Dinner at the Twisted Cork in Frenchtown, St. Thomas; playing mad perfume scientist at Tijon in Grande Case, St. Martin; snacking on Johnny Cakes at Miss Vie’s at the east end of St. John; and hiking to the Ham’s Bluff Lighthouse back home in St. Croix are but a few of the stories we need to re-explore.
And that we fully intend to do over the weeks and months to come, while continuing to help in the recovery and also shining our spotlight on the amazing people making a difference in getting our island communities back on their feet.