CHEZ LES CULS NUS
For a solid month in late 2017, eyes around the world were fixated on the relentless onslaught of nature’s fury, aimed first at Texas for Hurricane Harvey, the Caribbean and Florida for Hurricane Irma, and finally Puerto Rico in particular for Hurricane Maria. Each individual strand of the season left a legacy of chaos in its path. Years later, the tangled knot of this destruction has still not been undone.
Those of us who experienced the storms were divided among two camps in their wake: We who withstood them relatively unharmed and we who lost everything. The Caribbean island of Saint Martin, or Sin Maarten, is likewise divided among two camps — the northern part belonging to the French and the south to the Netherlands. But this family was united in the utter catastrophe that Irma wreaked on its inhabitants, a reality from which almost none came out unscathed.
Authorities estimated 90% of the structures were damaged on the island, with 60% of all the buildings rendered uninhabitable. Among them was a nudist beach and resort on the French side of the island, called Club Orient. Resting in the north, the resort took a direct hit from the 185 mph winds. Like a snake being lured outside of a hole, these photos, taken by Arnaud Pagès, entice the words out of the unspeakable. Roofs lifted, walls stripped. Living rooms converted to sandbar trash heaps. Green patches of bush like magnetized lent balls, attracting hurled junk that piled on top of itself.
All the while, the idyllic low coastal hills hover over the devastation in the background. A reminder that a paradise tropical island is wholly dependent on its context, lest it become an isolated hellscape. Picturesque and tranquil, yet ruinously naked and exposed.