In Dominica, school children and high school students showed great interest in the solar boat.The Carib chief of the Kalinago people, Charles Williams, was highly motivated to consider options for a power system with solar, wind and geothermal energy for his territory.
Young Dominica has taken over the "sun21" and the whole crew yesterday. About 230 school children and high school students jumped or were carried onto the boat that was docked on the pier in a rather improvised way – just in front of the Eco Cottages of our friend and host Fitzroy Armour, a general practitioner who is also deeply committed to ecological work. We worked in two shifts: One part of the crew welcomed children on the boat and Beat and Martin visited a selected school in the hamlet "Le dos-d’âne", a name that reminds us of a French episode in the history of the island. It was one of the 5 schools where Renate Siegenthaler, former member of the town council in Allschwil/Basel, has built up a kitchen and lunch project. Meals are offered at lunchtime so that the children can stay in school for the whole day. This improves the school attendance and the whole education considerably.
We experienced a school from a very different culture and style. To honor us, the school children were sitting at their desks in school uniforms, the girls in white blouses and blue skirts, the boys in white shirts and ties. They presented several dances and songs, among them gospel songs and the national anthem of Dominica. One of the boys sang a Calypso poem in which he warned other kids not to use drugs. A girl played a garbage sketch. She played her plea for disposing of garbage in a conscious way and to avoid garbage altogether if possible in a very expressive histrionic way.
Dominica has been devastated by a hurricane in 1979. Since then the island has recovered well. We discovered wilderness places of a unique beauty, a brook of clean fresh water, volcanic mountains around the Portsmouth bay covered with luxuriant tropical vegetation. It may be the only island that Columbus would still recognize today.
Today, we visited the Carib territory, the reservation of the Kalinago people. These are the last indigenous people of the Antilles. About 3’000 of them live on the East coast of the island in a remote mountainous area. They call Dominica "Wai-tukubuli" – "tall is her body". We had the chance to meet Charles Williams, the Carib chief in his Guest House that overlooks the rocky coast and the mighty breakers of the Atlantic. We had a long conversation with him, about our common concerns regarding our threatened planet, about the different attitude of native people to Mother Earth and the significance of a deeper connection with her and of a simpler lifestyle. He was expressing how eager he was to meet us when he heard about our solar expedition. Energy self-sufficiency of the whole island is for him as desirable as
the autonomy status that his people demand.
Charles Williams was highly motivated to consider options for a power system with solar, wind and geothermal energy for his territory and he hopes to find allies thanks to our visit. He took us on top of his roof. There, he cut fresh coconuts with a cutless (machete) from a palm tree and served us the warm, sweet coco milk, and grapefruit juice from his orchard as well. Charles Williams works mainly as a farmer; but, like most of the people here he has many other skills. We ended the day on a hotel terrace of the West coast – the owners are Swiss friends of Renate Siegenthaler – observed by two pelicans and several white herons perched on an old tree. At sunset, we could enjoy the green flash once again.