Two years ago, I took a ferry from Antigua to the island of Barbuda. I was amazed by the island’s beauty, charm and simplicity.
But today the island’s charming surrounding is ghostly quiet after the wrath of Hurricane Irma uprooted the lives of more than 1,600 residents. For us looking from outside, it is hard to imagine what the residents must be feeling; the physical, economic and social impact that a few hours of natures wrath has had on their lives.
Which leads me to think about two of the island’s residents I met when I visited the island in 2015.
My first encounter was with a mild mannered woman from Jamaica who told me that this was her 15th year living in Barbuda. She was working as a cook for a small hotel that caters for vacationers looking for a laid back holiday. Barbuda was her home and she loved the people, the peaceful and calm surroundings;no malls, no crime, she said.
I could tell that she was genuinely connected to her new “home” and although she was proud to be a Jamaican, Barbuda had become a place where she could relax and appreciate the world without all the material trimmings.
My second encounter was with a middle age man pictured below, who had finally fulfilled his dream of owning his own little hotel on the island where he was born. He told me that he lived and worked in Canada for awhile and decided that he would return to Barbuda to build his own hotel. He gave me a tour of his one room cottage located a few steps from the beach. His cottage offered all the privacy for someone looking for a reclusive (not all inclusive) vacation.
After the devastation of Hurricane Irma, I can’t help but think about the plight of those that Jamaican woman and the middle age Barbudan man. Like the rest of the 1,600+ residents, their peaceful paradise has been uprooted. But as the video below show even with this scale of devastation in Barbuda, there are stories of survivors to be told.
Tomorrow more than 1,600 residents have to rebuild their homes, their communities and their future.
And is Barbuda worth rebuilding? Absolutely!
There is something unique and special about this island. I had the opportunity to experience this a few years ago. The few hours I spent on Barbuda was one of the most relaxing time in my life, it was simply life without all the material things and worry about busy schedules. This was paradise, the Caribbean back in the day when everyone knew and looked out for their neighbours.
The government of the Antigua and Barbuda seems committed to rebuilding the island but first come the relief efforts underway to move the residents to Antigua. Rebuilding will definitely take years.