Oh no! The goats ate one of the lemon trees! Or that’s what it looks like on the picture, with the fence undone and the seedling nowhere to be found. The goats are the usual suspects when it comes to vanished vegetation, and the prolonged dry period on Saba has made them even more devastating than usual. Very sad for the little tree, and the facebook post reaps many frustrated comments from Sabans. I imagine Raymond's frustration, who waters them diligently everyday, when finding this one morning. And I am definitely disappointed myself as well. But from a research perspective the project just took an interesting turn: devoured lemon trees are interesting data!
Irma is record-breaking all round, did enormous damage to islands in the Caribbean, and has at the time of writing just cut-off 4 million people from electricity in Florida. Hurricanes turn everything on its head; metaphorically, but also painfully literally. My fieldwork area, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba, was hit by Irma in the night of Tuesday 5th to Wednesday 6th of September, and images of upside-down cars and torn down houses flooded the media.
Back in 2016, I arrived in Statia, aka The Golden Rock, aka The historic gem of the Caribbean. And today the time has come to pack up the suitcase that has contained my life for the past four months, and head back to Holland.
Two months on Saba have flown by: interviewing people, being toured around gardens, getting a peek of local politics and becoming more and more attached to the quirks of Saba's nature and people. Since it will take a long time before our research will really have an impact on Saba, I didn’t want to leave the island without leaving something behind.
As a good scientist, without having conducted any sort of survey or poll and instead reasoning solely from my own stereotypes and prejudices, I’m convinced that the single most dreaded question by every PhD candidate out there is “So, how’s your research going?”. Nice people are most often the villains asking these questions, and in fact, the nicest of them who really care about the answer are the worst you can come across.
Jetske Vaas (1990) started her PhD in March 2015. She works on the governance of invasive plant species in the Dutch Caribbean, for which the management of goats might prove to be pivotal.