Sarasota Short Stop

December 30th, 2017
Sarasota Short Stop

After the hurricane, we were dropped in Miami and left to fend for ourselves. So, after a call to our good friend, Paul, we were off to Sarasota for two weeks. This was my first trip to Florida and I must say I was duly impressed! We were told by more than one resident that Sarasota is the best place to live in all of Florida. We will agree. 

After a couple of days recuperating from the travails of sleeping in my office, and travelling for several days to get to Sarasota ...

Sarasota Short Stop
Recuperating in the lanai
Sarasota Short Stop
Home of the lanai - Paul's house

... we went sightseeing. Our first trek was to the Ringling Museum.

Sarasota Short Stop
Ringling Mansion
Sarasota Short Stop
Ringling Mansion along the water

After the death of John Ringling in 1927, the Family donated their house, grounds and art collection to the Stata of Florida.

Sarasota Short Stop
The museum wing

 The estate contains very impressive gardens ...

Sarasota Short Stop
A beautiful flower in the garden

... and a great collection of trees - or one great tree.

Sarasota Short Stop
This is one giant tree

 Sarasota also contains some amazing beaches along the numerous keys that run parallel to the coast.

Sarasota Short Stop
Birds on Siesta Beach
Sarasota Short Stop
More birds on Siesta Beach

While I am mentioning birds, we came across a number of very interesting species including...

Sarasota Short Stop
Big bird on the golf course - not afraid of us!
Sarasota Short Stop
Pelican cruising over Tampa Bay
Sarasota Short Stop
Pelicans
Sarasota Short Stop
Pelican
Sarasota Short Stop
Lots of life in the air

... and in Myakka Park we saw a number of vultures and eagles cruising overhead, perhaps looking for the remains of an aligator's dinner.

Sarasota Short Stop
Hawk or vulture

And while we are on the topic of gators, we did come across several while in Myakka Park. Apparently, according the guide every fresh body of water in Florida contains gators.

Sarasota Short Stop
Don't get too close
Sarasota Short Stop
Could be a log floating by

A highlight of our time was a trip to Tampa to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins play the Tampa Bay Lightning. Unfortunately, as has been the case often this year, Pittsburgh lost.

Sarasota Short Stop
Bridge across Tampa Bay
Sarasota Short Stop
Tampa across the bay

I'll close this post with some more shots of the amazing gulf coast beaches. 

Sarasota Short Stop
Somewhere near Siesta Key
Sarasota Short Stop
Interesting cloud formation over Lido Beach
Location: Florida, United States

Hurricane Maria - 2017

December 21st, 2017
Hurricane Maria - 2017

After only 3 weeks on the island, and only 3 days after Annette arrived to join me in our new home, Hurricane Maria raged over the island and destroyed much of the island's infrastructure and way of life. I had posted a satellite photo (above) showing how close Maria was to Dominica and told everyone not to worry. The blue line indicates the island. We didn't think much of it and fully believed that in the next day or so, we would go back to work and forget about Maria. 

Hurricane Maria - 2017
An aerial view of our villa complex.

However, upon waking after a long night in the bathroom hiding from the worst of the storm, we saw how much our little world had changed.

Hurricane Maria - 2017
The beautiful fan palm in front of our villa before the storm.
Hurricane Maria - 2017
The beautiful fan palm in front of our villa after the storm.

We checked on our neighbours below to see how they fared. Luckily, they were little worse for wear than we were, however their balcony fan did take a beating.

Hurricane Maria - 2017
Rachel and Gaby's fan beat against the ceiling

Our other neighbour was also fine, however her spectacular view over the Caribbean was even more exposed, and perhaps more spectacular.

Hurricane Maria - 2017
View over the Caribbean before the storm
Hurricane Maria - 2017
View over the Caribbean after the storm

 Once we ascertained that everyone in our compound was okay, we ventured out to discover fallen power lines...

Hurricane Maria - 2017
Fallen power lines near our flat

... holes and washouts in the road...

Hurricane Maria - 2017
Holes and washouts

... and the bridge near our flat collapsed.

Hurricane Maria - 2017
Collapsed bridge
Hurricane Maria - 2017
Road near the bridge overcome with fallen trees

Past the bridge, the road north toward the campus, 20 KMs away, was covered in debris...

Hurricane Maria - 2017
Road covered in debris
Hurricane Maria - 2017
Iguana hiding spots were blown away

... and the little village of Coulibistre was almost washed away.

Hurricane Maria - 2017
Village of Coulibistre

We spent several days in our villa waiting for news and devising an escape plan. However, before we had a chance to implement our plan, the university sent a rescue team by fishing boat to get us from our village and bring us up to the campus.

Hurricane Maria - 2017
Our villa complex from the water

Once we started up the coast, we then realized the full extent of the damage...

Hurricane Maria - 2017
The Sunset Bar - our new 'local'
Hurricane Maria - 2017
Debris in front of the bar

Many of the villages were devastated. Debris was blown up the mountains leaving a trail behind the villages.

Hurricane Maria - 2017
Trail of debris

 Other infrastructure was damaged beyond repair.

Hurricane Maria - 2017
A bent cell tower

Dominica does not have any enclosed harbours so most boats were actually moved to neighbouring islands. This one was not.

Hurricane Maria - 2017
Washed up

 Once we arrived at the campus, we were able to talk to others to get their stories of what happened to them during the storm. We discovered that...

Hurricane Maria - 2017
More than one roof blew off
Hurricane Maria - 2017
Another roof
Hurricane Maria - 2017
Many beautiful trees were stripped of leaves
Hurricane Maria - 2017
Many beautiful trees were stripped of branches as well

... and that evacuation efforts were well under way.

Hurricane Maria - 2017
Preparing to evacuate

The US were airlifting people and conducting various emergency efforts. They also took those students who were willing to pay to get off right away.

Hurricane Maria - 2017
Fly over

However, most of us were evacuated by an old cruise ship. It could only take about 350 people at a time and we were on the second trip. After several days of sleeping in my office, we finally were tendered out to the ship...

Hurricane Maria - 2017
The tender bringing us out
Hurricane Maria - 2017
Not unlike sardines
Hurricane Maria - 2017
Even people's pets were evacuated

From here, it was an overnight trip to St. Lucia where we were finally flown out to Miami. We arrived in Miami on September 28th, 10 days after the hurricane.


Below are a few more photos from Dominica.

Hurricane Maria - 2017
No more leaves
Hurricane Maria - 2017
The neighbour's banana garden
Hurricane Maria - 2017
Before and after from a student
Hurricane Maria - 2017
Before and after from a student
Location: Dominica, Dominica