GRANDE Riviere Beach in Toco has taken on a dismal look.
It's as if a cloud still hangs over the beachfront and community, two months after an earthwork debacle that saw the destruction of hundreds of eggs and hatchlings of the endangered leatherback sea turtle.
In front of the Mount Plaisir Hotel, a stagnant lagoon is the most obvious legacy of what some residents view as a botched attempt at righting the course of the Grande Riviere River, which earlier this year swung west and caused massive erosion of the beach.
After calls for intervention from the Ministry of Works went ignored until July, when the situation was deemed an emergency and the beach was graded to stop erosion at the height of the turtle nesting season, that part of the coast is yet to restore itself.
Mount Plaisir, one of the buildings most seriously under threat of collapse, has since suffered another type erosion—business.
As the Express July 7 story highlighting the turtles' deaths went viral on the world wide web, hotelier Piero Guerrini's business took a nosedive.
Local and international visitors cancelled reservations, shying away from what is generally recognised as one of the world's top three nesting sites and one of most popular and tourist-friendly spots for observing the massive marine reptiles as they beach themselves to lay.
Guerrini was vilified at home and abroad, receiving death threats and promises to have his property burnt to the ground by turtle lovers who felt the destruction of the reptile was due to his negligence.
"It was a bad, bad season," Guerrini said last Monday, standing beside the lagoon that now sits at his doorstep.
"We had almost no business after that. There were not as many hatchlings and almost no visitors. It's left to see if the business will return to normal next year."
Guerrini and many others in the area maintain that after all is said and done, the problem has not been solved.
A permanent solution has not been established that will prevent the river from again straying west.
When the earthworks were done in July, the river mouth had closed itself and the body of the river had wandered onto the beach, eroding the area immediately in front of Guerrini's hotel and washing away nests in what they said is the most prolific part of the beach.
Guerrini had for months been trying to have the river's course restored.
As the very foundation of Guerrini's property became exposed and his fence came down due to erosion, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) called it an emergency.
The eastern end of the beach was excavated and the sand used to create a bank that cut off the body of the river in front of Mount Plaisir.
The mouth was also dredged and widened to allow the fishermen and their boats access.
The excavation was unnecessary, some conservationists said, as material to create a bank could have been brought in from the roadside or taken from the area in front of the hotel, where the nests had already been washed away.
Despite not being the most popular nesting spot, the excavated area was still harbouring hundreds of viable eggs and nests, some turtle conservators from the area claimed.
When the Express visited the beach on July 7, hundreds of dead and dying hatchlings and their eggs littered that part of the beach.
Since then, the beachfront has remained the same.
Water from the river has continued to seep through the sand bank to feed the pool in front of the hotel.
"We have tried to pump it to out but it fills right back up," Guerrini said.
A few swings in the large tree outside the hotel, once put to good use by children of the village, are now out-of-bounds as they hang directly over the lagoon.
On afternoons, a stench of decay wafts off the lagoon and into the nearby buildings.
Seas have remained too calm since then to recreate the beachfront as it was, and a sharp drop of erosion remains, with the roots of the hotel's foundation still visible.
Several elders in the area said this may not right itself until early next year, if the seas become rough enough to re-deposit sand onto the beachfront.
There have been reports of dengue and at night, the nearby homes are flooded with mosquitoes.
"We have the opportunity right now to find a permanent solution to the erosion problem before the start of the next nesting season, which is in March, just six months away," Guerrini said.
"It also seems that we need some intervention to correct the beach at this time, since it is not happening on its own. It would be nice if the relevant authorities could re-visit the area."