Hello and happy Monday! Time for part 3 today, and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write this!
Ok, so we left off over in the Francis/Annaberg area. Today, we’re going to head up the hill and over toward the Coral Bay side of the island.
So when you leave Francis and Annaberg, the area really does not look too bad. One thing that is noticeable to people who live here and to those of you who’ve visited here frequently is the fact that the wooded area on each side of the roadway isn’t as lush as it used to be. The trees in this area, and even more so as you get closer to Coral Bay, look scraggly in some spots. I’ve taken a lot of first-time visitors on island tours lately, and they’ve all said that this area looks great. So it’s really in the eye of the beholder.
So now we’re at the intersection where you can take a right and go down the one way to Maho or take a left and go up the hill toward Centerline Road. We’re taking a left.
As soon as you drive up the first switchback, you will see a large area on your left where there was a considerable mudslide several months back. It was so bad at times that it blocked the roadway. Fortunately this area is now under control. If you look behind you in this area, you can see big views of the Sir Francis Drake channel, Tortola and Little Thatch Island. These views were all opened up by Irma. As you continue up the hill toward Centerline, you will still see some downed wires that need to be removed. To your right, the trees are extremely scraggly looking in the Mamey Peak area. This area has been affected greatly; even my first time guests can see the storms’ impact here.
Now we’ve made it to Centerline Road, and what’s directly across the street – Colombo’s! We’re thrilled that the smoothie shack has reopened. (We wrote about it recently. Click here to check out that story.) I also love the hand-painted sign out front which gives some love to the BBC linemen. (For now, Colombo’s is closed on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so please plan accordingly.)
So we’re going to take a left and head toward Coral Bay. Now, the closer you get to Coral Bay, the more damage you can see. Some scenes are truly heartbreaking, but then you look at the views of the East End and Norman Island and they are simply stunning. It’s an interesting juxtaposition in this part of the island.
Ajax Peak is the first landmark we pass on our left, and while the area has been mostly cleaned out, there is still some remnants of trash on the side of the road.
As you drive east toward Coral Bay, the views on your right are vast. Many of the trees and shrubs fell during the storms, opening up very large views along the roadway. Speaking of views, there’s a new sugar mill in Coral Bay that can be seen off to your right. Clearly it is not new, but prior to Irma it was covered with foliage and was not visible from Centerline. You can see it pretty well from the Coral Bay overlook too. Walk up to the big rock and look down toward the roadway. The sugar mill is to the right of that.
From the overlook, you can see the full effects of the storm. Remember, Coral Bay saw winds of 200 miles per hour and stronger. There were also tornados scattered about the island and many in Coral Bay. You can see snapped trees, twisted trees, blue roofs, homes without roofs, and completely destroyed homes. There’s a home that appears to be in danger of falling down a hillside (we’ve been told its cistern is holding it in place), and another home that literally slid a bit downhill. To the right, you can see debris scattered about the hillsides, covered a bit these days by the brush that has grown in over the past six months. To the left, there are numerous areas where there were major rockslides after the storms. Again, it’s all extremely sad.
But looking at the glass half full, the views of Coral Bay, the East End and beyond are still beautiful. The boats are back in the harbor and nearly all have been removed from the rocks. And when you speak to the people living and working in Coral Bay, they are happy, smiling, resilient and optimistic. I make it a point to have lunch in Coral Bay several times a week and have truly enjoyed watching the progress on that side of the island. They all thank you for visiting. And they truly mean it. Coral Bay is just as special today as it was before the storms. They may be bent, but they are not broken.
So now we are down in Coral Bay. The famous Coral Bay sign was heavily damaged, but there are plans to rebuild it. (I’ll have more on that this week.) Not many of the advertisements on the sign survived the storms, but News of St. John’s did. That definitely made me smile when I saw that just a few days after Irma hit. You can check it out in the pic at the top of this story. It’s the little things in life, folks.
Next up is the ball field. It’s been temporarily converted into a dump. Sure, it’s unsightly but it’s serving a purpose and is very orderly. I’ve been told that it will be restored to a ball field once all of the debris is removed. I’m sure all of the donkey, goat and sheep will be happy when that happens. Speaking of our islands critters, all are doing very well since the storms. I easily see at least 15 donkeys daily while cruising around on my island tours. (Side note: I recently read in one of the real newspapers that the Army Corps is currently deciding what to do with all of the debris. We will keep you all posted on that.)
Across the street is the Moravian Church. It, too, is in sad shape having lost its roof during Irma. I am not certain what its future holds, but I would like to see it restored as I am sure many of you would as well. Random fact: The Manse was constructed in 1750 and the church was originally built in 1782. Pretty amazing if you ask me. And more of a reason to restore it.
I think we will end right here. Our next installment will update you on Indigo and Skinny’s, and from there we will head out to the East End.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful Monday!