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Nature is not always nice.

Nature is not always nice.

I was on the way to Mount Grandby, Grenada, with Brother Mac, a very good friend when I found it necessary to pause and stare at the Point, Fontenoy and Grand Mal areas. Hurricane Lenny revisited my mind. The year was 1999 when Hurricane Lenny dubbed “Wrong way Lenny”, impacted the Northern Leeward Islands and sent a storm surge that slammed into the western coastal areas of Grenada. Lenny was called “Wrong way Lenny” because it took a different path. Unlike the customary track of Atlantic hurricanes from east to west, Lenny spent its time moving from west to east. There was a dip in the jet stream that was centered over the Western Atlantic . It propelled Lenny on its westward path.

The storm surge made me think of the dangers of living in coastal areas. One must be prepared at all times for the unexpected. The people who lived on the coast of Indonesia and Sri Lanka can recall stories of the horrors caused by massive waves. They had more of their share of misfortune in the past. Mother Nature is often kind but there are times when it rains its hostility on people. I noted the occasions man placed huge boulders as buffers to waves and in time, the seas became rough and pushed the same boulders back to the land.

We drove to another spot and another pause. There are certain areas on the western coast of Grenada that instill fear in me. I remember the areas near Woodford and Perseverance and I recall how the wooden buses used to race along the roads. In retrospect, I can only thank God for protecting us as we travelled to Brothers when we attended the Saint John’s Christian secondary school. There were times the drivers of buses had to stop or slowly edge their way pass each other. When one looked down, all that was seen was precipice. Not everyone was brave enough to look.

My friend in the car had a story to tell: A woman whose surname was Andall died when the car she was driving plunged over the edge and down the precipice. I felt the sorrow deeply because I knew her. Others had perished in that spot before. And there was the plaque at Coteau Maillie which was a somber reminder to all about the dangers of huge stones that can bulldoze they way off the hills. In 1991, a huge boulder flattened a bus and the pain was felt all over Grenada:
Tragedy at Coteau Maillie

It moved along the winding road,
Its hum a requiem tone.
The final ride in precise time,
The passengers did not see a sign.

For up above, a huge rock stood,
Prepared to thunder down.
And suddenly a mighty weight
On fragile frame alight.

And all who sat within that bus
Became like paved earth flat.
One mighty blow and breath was gone
And so the engine’s song.

So many dreams perished that day,
Wiped out in instant bang.
And lives cut short by tragedy
Became a memory.

I often wonder why the indigenous Caribs, called a spot close to Gouyave, Mabouya, which in their tongue meant evil spirit. What monstrous calamity occurred there to cause them to christen that area Mabouya?

We arrived in the hills of Mount Granby and I was fascinated by the mountain greenery. But there was something else there that gripped my attention. There was a dilapidated house, the abiding evidence of the wrath of Hurricane Ivan which sparked tornados in Grenada in 2004. Years before, in 1955, that house was a welcome sanctuary for those who were threatened by the might of Hurricane Janet. A nearby stream that turned into a river was not able to loosen its foundation. Ivan proved otherwise. All Ivan left was a concrete skeleton, a strong reminder of power of the wind.

Someone I knew well lived in that house. He passed away a few years ago in Brooklyn but not before he told me stories about his hunting days in Mount Grandby. My friend showed me the mountain where he used to hunt with his dogs. All the mental images that found a home in my consciousness while I was in Brooklyn sprung to life while I was there. I was looking at the scene that he vividly described to me before he passed. I remembered stories of the agouti which was bountiful in Grenada once and the occasions he mentioned the Gouti, the name he called it. I looked up to the hills and pictured him negotiating his way among the thick bushes. He left us but there was something I was capable of doing that I was sure his wife and offspring were going to appreciate. I took a picture of the house and surroundings where he grew up.
When I got back to Brooklyn, I told his wife and daughter that I had a picture of the house to show them. Their faces lit up when I eventually showed it to them.

It is good that one can sift through the pages of history and dig up a memory that can help stifle the pain Mother Nature often inflicts. It is wonderful to stare at a house that became a shield to people when the winds and rain combined to wreck havoc.
Anthony Wendell DeRiggs.