Personal blog of Derek and Margaret, working in Dominica, W.I. founders of Ozone Zone – an Independent Canadian book publisher specializing in coffee table books of architectural treasures and lush gardens. We also promote fine artistic photography. This blog contains unofficial reports and comments from our various trips, photo sessions, and jobs – an unofficial scrapbook of our travels, explorations and photo-related work. See “about” for more.

Posts tagged ‘travel’

Why Dominica

Old tree in Syndicate Forest.

View from our home

Caught in busy life of rebuilding our home damaged by hurricane Maria, landscaping our gardens, commercial photo and video projects here in Dominica and on neighbouring islands, dealing with our Permanent Residency status, and other everyday work, one may actually forget the core thing – WHY are we living in Dominica for the last 6 years?   Why HERE?

Having to cope with numerous everyday matters, we noticed we got tired and are falling into a daily routine.
However, couple of months ago, one of my projects for a friend from JustGoDominica.com required me to go to various nature places  of Dominica – and this gave me lots of joy forgotten in recent years. So, we decided to go both visiting the most beautiful locations we know, and to continue exploring new places.

Syndicate falls, Dominica

These once-a-week trips keep giving us more energy, inner peace, harmony and happiness. And we realized these gave us back the reason to be here!  While it did quietly slip away from our agenda – the main reason of living in Dominica is its beauty!

Syndicate Falls, Dominica

Beauty of nature, balance one can find here, less commercialization of our lives and living mostly outdoors-  this is why we decided to move here.

Detail in old forest.

Surely, we do have our everyday tasks to perform – but we promised ourselves to always try and keep some time to go around and experience Dominica’s nature every now and then.
Therefore we would like to share with you some of photographs taken on our latest hike.

We found our peace and happiness in Dominica, and never regret moving here.

Palm trees in bloom

But perhaps happiness can be found everywhere if we have time and will to see beauty around us, and find some moments to do and see things that are our passion and give us joy.

And, if you are like us and find thrill in experiencing daily living in nature and tropics – Dominica will be happy to see you, even for a short visit. The joy can be yours!

 

Syndicate Forest and National Park Info center. Dominica.

As for me – I am now charging batteries for our another trip!

Thank you for visiting our little blog. If you like what you see, please share with others.

Cheers, until next time!
Derek and Margaret
http://ArtPhotographyServices.com

All photos are copyrighted Derek Galon, please respect it. Thank you.

#Dominica  #DiscoverDominica

The Deed Is Done

Our home after rebuilding. Acid stains visible on walls and floor.

Funny to remember we expected to have a slower life in Dominica, being tired with the speed and pressure of things in Canada. Here actually our life goes faster in many aspects! Well, all together it is more harmonious and peaceful – but so much things happen to us, we are badly short of time.

Anyway – the deed is done! Our house destroyed to the ground by hurricane is up, and we are in it already! About two years to the date – the process was slow, plagued by builder mistakes, and slowed further by various improvements to the structure.
Now we work overtime on decor, various fixes, and on landscape. Margaret is busy planting hundreds of plants she propagated in last years in anticipation of this moment. So, the place starts to look like our home, and we are quite happy with it.

Margaret applying acid stain

The concrete acid stain we used extensively on floors and walls added to unusual and warm look. It was great decision to go for it. We are totally relying on rain water, and it proves a reliable and comfortable solution, specially with the efficient solar water heater recently installed on our roof. The concrete roof itself is covered outside with special white sealer which also acts as sun heat barrier, and even on hottest days our home is cool inside.

Victoria Falls, Dominica

We are so focused on home work that we don’t feel like going anywhere, even for quick shopping. But we have to, as we have plenty of other work. Past months saw me working for a large nature film company (can’t talk about it until project is finished – so stay tuned to learn more about this later on!), filming series of short flicks for our friends at JustGoDominica.com and other such tasks. This work sent me to beautiful places such as Victoria and Middleham Falls, Wavine Cyrique, and I am soon to go other places.

Wavine Cyrique, an unique waterfall ending on a beach.

In the meantime we keep photographing and filming various real estate properties and hotels here, occasionally shooting on other Caribbean islands. Latest one a fine boutique resort in Grenada – was really fun to visit. Another trips (Barbados and Grenada) are on the plate.

Photo from my recent job, photographing Fort Young Hotel in Dominica, after extensive renovations.

We will try to keep you posted, although it is not always possible as finding a free moment is tricky these days. But we want to share with you more news and stories, so please stay tuned for more.
Until next time, cheers! And if you like this post, share it and subscribe!

Derek

PS
All photos by Derek Galon, please respect copyright.

Revisiting Papillote Gardens in Dominica

While life keeps us extremely busy with rebuilding our home after the hurricane Maria (we hope it will finish in about 2 months! Hurray!), we try to work on photography and video as much as we can. And there is lots of work to be done. Just recently our XL sized prints were placed on walls of S-Mart supermarket, adding a flavour of local nature to the store.

our prints on walls of S-Mart

 

Mounting my huge print inside Dominica International Airport

Soon after -in collaboration with #EliteEvents –  International Airport in Dominica had been decorated with even bigger size prints. We are working on a series of wall-decor nature prints available in several retail locations, and – same as these above projects – we do it in collaboration with the best printers in Dominica – Campbells.

Then, I had a creative photo-video session with a professional model and a friend – Nicole Morson. We worked together before. This time it was a horse-riding theme, courtesy of fantastic Brandy Manor Riding Center near Portsmouth.

I am now preparing for a short trip to Grenada, to do photography and video for promotion of a new luxury boutique resort – I should have more about it soon.

So, as you see – there is quite a b it of work we are tackling on top of our everyday lives.

Nicole Morson during our photo session

 

But during all these activities we also revisited the Papillote Gardens in Trafalgar – one of our most favourite Caribbean gardens. It is always  a pleasure to meet Anne, garden’s creator. She helped me filming several agouti feeding before sunset, and we were shown all recent changes and improvements.

During these visits we did what we always try to do – filmed and photographed, and Margaret had a short interview with Anne. The result is now available for you to see – a short video presenting Papillote Gardens. Have a look. We hope you will enjoy!

 

So, that is all for now, we will be in touch soon.

Don’t forget to like and share the post if you enjoyed it. All the best!
Derek and Margaret

Experience the Island Reborn – video

In our previous post We shared our experience from producing a short movie for #DominicaFilmChallenge – a clip that won one of their awards and enjoyed 160,000 views in just one month. We also mentioned then that we have another video ready – and now we are happy to share it to you.

As we in Dominica just remembered 1st anniversary of hurricane Maria, here is our little contribution to it. It basically is similar to the video which was awarded at Dominica Film Challenge 2018, but with more nature footage. I hope you will enjoy – and hopefully visit Dominica soon as it looks better and better. Enjoy the flick!
Until next time, cheers
Derek and Margaret

Dominica Film Challenge

The last three months saw us crossing our island of Dominica back and forth, filming some amazing places. Now that all the work is already done we can sit down and tell you about it.

Margaret starting our drone in Scotts Head

For the last few years Dominica Tourism Authority (DDA) organizes Dominica Film Challenge to promote the island as a nature destination. So far it were teams of avid travellers from abroad who got invited to participate. But this year for the first time the concept changed, and only local Dominica filmmakers were invited to apply.

Nahjie securing our way in canyon

We offered ourselves to participate and were among the six teams selected to create a short movie on a given theme. Our theme was “hiking”, but we decided that we should expand over this theme, taking advantage of being both local and also foreign. I mean, yes – we live here for five years and know Dominica for much longer. But we also spent half of our life in Europe, then many years in Canada – travelling a lot – including various off-the-usual-path places, also in the Caribbean. That gives us a different perspective. We thought we could see what visitors may find most thrilling in Dominica, but also how the post-hurricane recovery and all the changes it caused may create an added attraction for them.

Margaret in the canyon

That gave Margaret a nice start to write her script, beginning with a short introduction of Dominica as a beautiful Nature Island, then reminding of last year’s hurricane and then going on a trip to re-discover Dominica and see the changes. We had some nice pre-hurricane footage and also documented Dominica soon after it. So, now we recorded recovering nature and visited some amazing locations, also filming short interviews with tourist guides.

Trafalgar Falls 6 months after hurricane

The trip we both remember as the most unusual was the canyoning with our friend and a fantastic guide from ExtremeDominica.com, Nahjie Laflouf, and his climbing partner, Junior. They brought us to a beautiful rock formation at the bottom of a canyon. Beautiful and amazing place to film. However, dragging the equipment through a rough path often changing to a vigorous stream, then through high river waters was not exactly easy for us, and without their help it simply would not happen! But the reward for this hike was amazing, and the footage shows it well.

on hiking trail over Freshwater Lake

Our favoutite locations such as Freshwater Lake or Trafalgar Falls were surely nice to revisit, but I also filmed in the bush, taking close-up shots of recovering nature and re-growing forest. The last on our list was a boat trip through the Indian River with “Fire”, a great guide we know for years. We found Indian River changed but really beautiful – as “Fire” said – we could see “a different kind of beauty” around us. We saw the nature bouncing back, a heart-warming assurance that soon it will regain its old glory.

Derek on boat with “Fire”

Being on boat with “Fire” is always great. Whenever we had visiting friends we made sure they go with him exploring Indian River nature reserve. But this time – although this is how he makes a living – when “Fire” heard we make a film to promote Dominica – he refused any payment for the trip. What a guy! Respect, man!

With all material in hand we spent quite a time editing it and crafting as a super-short movie.

We actually decided that requested length of 3 minutes did not have proper chance to tell our story the way we wanted – so we delivered… TWO movies! One is officially entered to the Dominica Film Challenge, and another one is a bonus. Two-for-one, well – you know – like a pizza. This version extended by two extra minutes shows more of nature recovery process which we find fascinating.

What really adds to our video is the voice-over. We were in luck to “discover” a great talent in the person of Kevin Francis who recorded Margaret’s narration in a single take, bringing out every flavour of this short text. Combined with fantastic music by our Polish friend, a guitarist Andrzej Chochol, it added a really immersive sound layer.

Indian River nature reserve

All work is done and delivered, now progressively launched by Discover Dominica along five other videos.

We surely hope you will this short film. We had a blast doing it, and thanks to it we visited places we did not see before. So, all is well. Now, click the link, have a look, and “like” and “share” the clip if you find it nice. Your clicks will help selecting the winning video!
Please use headphones if watching on a tablet or small laptop.
Dominica – Hike an Island Reborn

Enjoy!
Derek and Margaret

Please remember all photos are copyright Derek Galon and Ozone Zone Books. No usage without written authorization. Thank you.

#DominicaFilmChallenge,  #rediscoverDominica, #DiscoverDominica

 

And So The Dust Settles – part 4 of our Hurricane Maria memories

Trees start to have green leaves again – the same tree as on first hurricane post. compare them!

It is now two and half months after the hurricane. Sometimes it feels like all that was just a bad dream. But you don’t need to look long to actually realize you are still in post-hurricane zone. Our road was cleared by an excavator, but it is badly broken and driving is quite dangerous. Everywhere you drive you pass broken poles, debris and damaged remains of cars mixed with piles of mud. The green is back, but it mostly is just the morning glory taking over every empty space created by fallen trees. Yes, nature heals quickly, but the landscape will stay different for a long time, before it gets back to previous harmonious balance. Also wildlife will recover, but for now you can spot hungry parrots flying over villages they would never visit before. They, same as hummingbirds, other birds and animals are hungry, misplaced and desperate to find some sort of food. Even our dogs are still under visible stress, barking at night and anxious during the day.

trees on a starry night – stumps get their first leaves again.

Some say that around 20,000 people left the island. Such number would make about a quarter of the whole population, and the long term economic impact of such exodus is yet to be seen. One thing is clear – this all will change our island for years to come.

one of many dumping places for damaged roofing materials

We all feel things slowly get back to normal – but is it really so, or we just get used to this situation that we accept it as the “new normal”? Truth is probably somewhere between.

As for our situation, we notice that even simple tasks take longer and require more energy. Dealing with insurance, driving, baking our bread – it is now more effort than before. Yes, we do have a small generator, but it only runs our fridge and couple of small lamps, so all work needs to be finished before darkness – making our days shorter. Yes, we just restored a basic line of running water to the kitchen, but the kitchen itself is wrecked and we do most food preparations outdoors.

our rented house used to be totally covered by green. now it slowly gets the green cover once again

Margaret and an uprooted bamboo

Soon it will be time to decide about rebuilding of our new, shattered home. But this has too its new challenges – material shortages, enormous delays at the port and damaged roads will make the process much more tricky than before. We don’t complain – merely observe. Many others had it much worse than us, and now together with a friend, a BBC cameraman, we are recording interviews about the hurricane experiences. Some stories we hear are so shocking that it is even hard to listen – yet people say their experience in simple words, like stating simple facts about life – and sometimes death.

Damaged piano – another victim of hurricane Maria

Once again we realize that the hurricane itself – while really scary – was just the beginning. At least for us, it is the long months of years ahead which prove to be the real challenge. With no regular power and no internet we can npt do our normal work – editing photography and video, writing, sending files to clients, and so on. We are professionally crippled, and can only rely on generosity of management in Fort Young Hotel, which – despite being seriously damaged and hosting only a few teams of various international aid groups – but otherwise closed for business until restored – allows us and other local professionals to leech their wi-fi internet – our only and rare moments of contact with the rest of the world…

Hurricane brought also some beauty – a picturesque ship wreck near Portsmouth

So, the dust finally starts to settle and more and more people get grip of their situation. Some decide to stay, many decide to go abroad, some businesses opening but many to be never seen again – you can feel we are at the cross roads. Hopefully there will be a visible recovery, but now it is all in the air. It will be fascinating to watch and participate in rebuilding this tiny island. But it will be difficult and long process. We quite understand those who already left Dominica, and hope we will not have to. We are ready for the next challenge…

Despite intense cleanup, you still can see many scenes like this…

Please subscribe to see more photos and read our next posts.
Thank you!
Margaret Gajek
www.ozonezonebooks.com
Derek Galon
www.ArtPhotographyServices.com

If you wish to help us in this difficult situation, you can do so by using link
www.paypal.me/DerekGalon
Thank you.

Please respect copyright of this story and photos. Contact us if you need to reuse this material.

Tags:  #hurricanemaria  #hurricane #maria #tropicalstorms #dominicastrong #dominica

Still Stranded – Hurricane Maria notes – part 3

Dutch Marines coming

In roofless kitchen every cupboard, every mug and plate is covered with dirt and shredded leaves. I am surprised to find that our tightly closed spice jars are half-full of water pumped in under enormous pressure.

It is hard to believe two weeks already passed since the hurricane Maria. We are still spending lots of time sorting our things drenched in muddy water. It takes hours to pull them out, dry them in the sun, clothing spread on branches of our broken mango tree. In the roofless kitchen every cupboard, every mug and plate is covered with dirt and shredded leaves. I am surprised to find that our tightly closed spice jars are half-full of water pumped in under enormous pressure. Nothing stayed dry.

Soaked, messed boxes of stuff ready for our moving – now ready for garbage bin.

destroyed chapel at Retreat House

I am opening soaked boxes only recently packed to move to our new home – now totally destroyed by hurricane. In a dry weather we burn wet packaging, discoloured moldy clothes, destroyed furniture. Our neighbours, the Retreat House, kindly offered us a dry room to store the few things we managed to salvage. We are at the retreat house unloading boxes when we hear loud engines of approaching helicopter – a large Dutch military craft. Two uniformed figures descend on a steel line. They came from St Maarten hit by hurricane Irma and can compare. Dominica was hit much stronger, they say. They are looking for a Dutch couple living nearby to check if they are OK. They left only to come back soon with food for all of us – cans of beans, juice and rice. We laugh saying it will make the most expensive dinner in our lives.

How this tiny stream could turn to the nasty river? All these rocks were brought by water, damaging all homes around…

We are tired of experiencing a waterfall in our living room with every rain, so we decide to call village rastas for help making a temporary roof cover. We hear there is one store in town selling metal galvanized sheets for roofing. We can’t possible go there – our road is still blocked. We decide to find all our old pieces of galvanage and patch them together.

Typical scene of destruction

Finding them is not easy – some are blown away as far as the bottom of the ravine. Dragging them through bushes is a daunting task. We gather wooden rafters and metal sheets scattered around the house and go searching. I found a good sheet of galvanage, but it is stuck on a tree. We are out of luck for this one. After two days of hard work the job is done. To celebrate it, we spend the first night since the hurricane in our own bed. What a luxury, comparing to three weeks spent in our car!

Margaret walks on main street of Soufriere…

Step by step with much effort, our lives slowly improve. We made our pizza oven work again and bake our European bread. We can’t deliver it yet to shops, but we simply share it with neighbours and people in our village. An old friend of ours shipped a new generator as a gift – this will surely make big difference. Another friend invited us to see page www.gofundme.com and do search for Derek Galon. She organized a donation fund to help us, with friends and total strangers chipping in! Some other friends sent us their individual donations. Each such thing feels like a miracle. Gestures like that not only help rebuild our lives, but also show us much needed support. We are full of gratitude and appreciation. And we feel even more motivated not to fail.

While path to Emerald Pool is now cleared, the waterfall looks like set in middle of forest clear-cut

Soon we will be able to drive again – a hired excavator is clearing the road. We are invited to a bbq chicken party at village’s roofless bar. Everybody share their hurricane stories. There is a strong sense of togetherness which makes it easier to face days ahead.

 

 Please subscribe to see more photos and read next part soon.
Thank you!
Margaret Gajek
www.ozonezonebooks.com
Derek Galon
www.ArtPhotographyServices.com

If you wish to help us in this difficult situation, you can do so by using link
www.paypal.me/DerekGalon
Thank you.

Please respect copyright of this story and photos. Contact us if you need to reuse this material.

Tags:  #hurricanemaria  #hurricane #maria #tropicalstorms #dominicastrong #dominica

 

Center of Roseau

what remained of our bedroom and new home. most belongings were later stolen

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