The final loss of life hasn't been determined... as of the last time I talked to Elvis, he, and his grandparents, had survived the storm, though they were left with just the clothes they were wearing when the storm hit and several family members were "lost" ...though I am unclear as to whether that just means they have not been located.
But while Elvis is alive and OK, just a few scratches, the island is not. There has been a complete loss of communication to most of the island, there is no food or water, and public and government buildings have been damaged as badly as private homes, so there is literally no place for many to shelter at all.
Dominca is considered a paradise for ecotourists... the pristine waterfalls, rain forests, diving and hiking opportunities are matched only by the diverse flora and fauna... which has been Elvis's life. With a background in biology and botany, Elvis is a naturalist who has guided university students and scientists, as well as just regular folk, like you and I, around his island home.
But that is over for now. A CNN crew who flew over Dominica reported: “Nearly every tree was touched – thousands snapped and strewn across the landscape – and the island was stripped of vegetation. The rainforests appear to have vanished."
“The breadth of the destruction is staggering – intact or untouched homes are hard to find amid the chaos.”
Besides a lack of food and water, food crops have been destroyed, food animals have died and been swept away and some communities, having only generators or car batteries as a source of power, are completely cut off. Because roads are impassable, relief teams have been dropping personnel, with satellite phones, into the most remote areas to coordinate supply drops.
Fortunately, nature is resilient, she will heal herself, and offer up her bounty again more quickly than man can rebuild his abodes. In the meantime, though, Elvis, his family and neighbors are desperate for the basics.
How can you help?
There are several ways you can donate.... this is one of the best, most direct, relief efforts for Dominica... www.darda.org/hurricane-maria-relief.html
A Breathtaking Glimpse Into a Medieval City
We left early in the morning on Saturday, Easter Eve. Driving on the Autostrada is fine, but then it is necessary to take some secondary roads. The road conditions are ok. And the scenery is wonderful no matter where you drive in Italy. I stopped for lunch at a little family owned ristorante. No one speaks English here, but I do know some Italian so “tutto era buono”, “everything was good.”
She gets the key, and grabs another umbrella, since it is still raining, and we walk across the street to the building that will be home for the night. I found out later that the building had collapsed over the years and was rebuilt using original material from the old structure.
We unpack, and are amazed at the room. Concrete base for the bed, windows overlooking the piazza, a bathroom with stone sinks and shower, and a window that penetrates the wall that has to be at least 12” thick with a piece of glass on the outside edge. The door is obviously original, and the keys are the largest room keys I have ever seen. I tell my wife to make herself comfortable and I head out to shoot some photos.
I go to the room, get my wife, and tell her of my find. Her clothing is still wet, so basically she wears her pajamas to dinner. We open the door to the restaurant and find they are not open yet, they are still setting up for the night. We ask if we can wait, and they are agreeable. We sit and enjoy the view of this old restaurant, and I notice photos of Rick Steves on the walls of the place. He obviously had dinner here too when he visited this town. We at pasta, what else, some sausage, and drank lots of wine. If you have not been to Italy, the wine is plentiful. By the glass or by the bottle is very inexpensive. And all local. Salute.
Diner is over and we make our way back to the room. By now it is dark outside. We have a small light in our room. I turn on the light and I decide to use a hair dryer to help dry out my shoes, which by now are soaked. Not long after turning it on, I trip a breaker and all the power is now off. I have to call the owner who begins to give me instructions on where the breaker box is and that I should go and reset the breaker. What a way to start the night. I do find the panel and reset the breaker. I then go back to my room and settle in for the night.
Next thing I know, church bells are ringing. I remember that the church is just across the piazza and it is Easter Morning. The bells are ringing to signify the resurrection of Christ. I also notice that the sun is finally out. I then try to use the coffee maker in our room which for some reason, either I can’ figure out or does not work. So I tell my wife, I am going out to shoot more photos in daylight, and I will find us some coffee. Little did I know, finding coffee was not going to be easy.
After walking the same streets as the night before, I find a shop keeper setting up for the day, and ask if I can get a cup of coffee. He tells me he is not a coffee shop but come back in 10-15 min and he will see what he can do. I walk through town a bit more, taking more photos, and then go back. He is ready to make me coffee and has the girl that works for him brew it for us in her coffee maker.
I bring the coffee to my wife and then we finish packing. We then begin the long trip down the ramp to the parking lot. At least the sun is shining this time, and the view of the valley is amazing. There are even people out heading up the ramp to go to Sunday services at the church. We find the car, put our bags in, and take one last look at this historical town. This was not a 5 star hotel stay, but I will never forget the experience here in Civita Di Bognoregio.
There were problems with the room, but that makes for wonderful memories. Now it’s off to Pompeii and then the Amalfi Coast.
NOTE: If you are truly a travel lover... Skyscanner is a great way to find the cheapest trips almost anywhere in the world! Don't have a destination in mind but want to see whats "out there" for cheap airfare? Just enter the airport you are leaving FROM and leave the destination and dates OPEN. Skyscanner will show you the cheapest flights for the next 3-4 months. We recently flew (2 people) from Orlando to New Orleans for $200 total for both of us. Another tip... compare round trip to simply one way flights each way... we used two airlines and saved the most that way.
by Joe Mack
Approximately 50 miles north of New York City, there is a locale called the Hudson Valley. Some of us are lucky enough to live here. Others come for a visit. A day trip, a weekend, some stay for a week. There is long list of things to do and see up here.
who worked for him in the warehouses on the island. What were stored here were arms and munitions. This too has gardens around it. These buildings are NOT what you usually see in the Hudson Valley. Kinds of reminds me of being on the Rhine or Danube.
TWA's Inside Scoop on your Favorite Viral Videos
After driving for about 2-3 hours, with no spottings, we decided to turn around and ...Boom! There he was, this beautiful bull, standing still and staring at us out of the woods on the side of the road.
There were two other vehicles pulled over as they were out "back country skiing," and he started licking the other pulled over truck (Moose have learned they can get salt from licking vehicles). We decided to watch from a distance. He was so unbothered and the road we were on was totally quiet and very wide. If had it been anything different we wouldn’t have stuck around, for the safety of the moose.
After a couple of minutes we were able to roll in a little closer and he knew we were there and watching him, still not caring, and more so looking at us as his next snack and very appreciative.
He then made his way over to us and I was a tad bit apprehensive because, with each step closer he took, the larger he became and it was overwhelming. Yet, he was incredibly gentle and amusing as he made his way around our car, gently bumping his dish (antlers) against our car.
About 10-15 min into his snack on our car the skiers returned to their vehicle behind us and they couldn’t believe what they were witnessing. They were about 20 meters away from us and the moose even knew they were there, taking off all their equipment and loading up their car, and the moose couldn’t care less. He was so infatuated with the salt he was getting for his diet from our car.
Had there been any aggression shown or uncomfortable nature the back country skiers would have gotten into their car for safety…as with us (we never got out of the car or unrolled the windows). Had there been any danger or aggression we wouldn’t have stuck around. We are very very respectful of the animals we live around and advocate for safe and conservation focused wildlife viewing. We are always very responsible and respectful.
We DO see a lot of disrespectful behavior from national park visitors causing “Bear Jams” which is essentially a traffic jam caused by a bear on the side of the road, and by people causing a very disruptive stir either by stopping or by getting out of their car for photos (which is SO not cool).
So yea……I’d say we were very lucky to have this moment but had the roads been busy, packed, narrow, or anything of that nature, we would have left straight away.
If you are ever in Banff, please keep your safety, and the safety of our wildlife in mind and, please, stop in to see me at the Gallery! I'd love to meet you and we are located right downtown at 201 Bear Street, Banff, Alberta, Canada. I'll give you some recommendations on some great places to eat and things to do!
UPDATE: The video and story are making their way around the globe. Scroll down to see some of our favorite ones... including in Russian and Japanese!
Fortunately authorities got ahold of the folks at the local Audubon Center for Birds of Prey and they dispatched an eagle eyed wildlife professional to oversee the rescue effort.
One of the birds did break free and flew up into the sky, continuing to circle and watching the action from up above. The other Eagle fell into the drain where, then, it could not escape at all. Firefighters were careful to tie a rope around the heavy iron grate, before they removed it, in order to prevent it falling on the trapped symbol of America and quashing all our hopes for the future.
Then, using a net, they were able to snare the bird around the legs (the safest place to grab them as their legs are very strong), and pull it to safety.
So today… “Democracy” is recuperating at the Audubon Center and people of ALL political persuasions are pulling together as one, checking on it’s condition and sending donations to help the center with it’s work.
Central Florida is home to many native species, some, like the Bald Eagle, is also found throughout the country and North America. However some species, like the Florida Alligator, or the Manatee, are only found in the Southern States.
If you love wildlife, and are visiting Florida, there are many “once in a lifetime” opportunities to see native and endangered wildlife, sometimes in their natural habits. A few of my favorite places are…
Blue Spring State Park
Depending on the time of year, you might see just a few, or a plethora of endangered Manatees here.
The last time I visited, there were so many Manatees packed into the river by the viewing dock that you could have walked across their backs to the other side without getting your feet wet (except, of course, that would be wrong, you cannot “molest” Manatees, it’s a crime).
If you’re an animal lover, like me, you probably already make them a part of any vacation you take and, besides what I’ve mentioned here, there are literally hundreds of opportunities to enjoy wildlife in Florida. Just use Google to find something near your destination!
As far as "Democracy," the Bald Eagle, goes... sadly, she passed away from her injuries. So, while Democracy is dead, you can still visit her friends at the Audubon Birds of Prey Center and make a donation in her name and in the spirit of freedom.
NOTE: It's a small, small world. Just learned it was Yaileen's boyfriend, Tito, who saw the Bald Eagles fall from the sky and called 911. Yaileen is "our" server at Sweet Mama's
This video is by Cedric Gourret, from Guadeloupe, France of his visit and tour of Dominica with Elvis. Enjoy, and click the Vimeo link to see more videos from Cedric as well.
Dominica: Place your mouse over the photo below to begin the slideshow