After I left Fort Shirley and the Cabrits National Park , I drove along one of Dominica’s well-travelled winding roads in an easterly direction. Despite the brightness of the day, giant palm trees shadowed the route, which skirts the south side of Morne Aux Diables and other smaller peaks.
After about half an hour, I reached the northernmost entrance to the quaint ocean-side village called Calibishie (Cal-i-BI-she). This is a Kalinago word which means “a net of reefs.”
This unassuming little hamlet is unique on the Nature Island in that it is sheltered by a mile long barrier reef that protects the shoreline from the persistent Atlantic surf. Historically, this area is known to have had the earliest settlement on Dominica – back to the pre-Columbian era! Renowned local historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch, PhD, has written a fascinating article about this pretty place. You can read it here.
I had a couple of restaurants in mind for lunch: they had been recommended to me by various people over the past several months. Lo and behold, despite being off-season, I happily and immediately discovered that the Rainbow Restaurant (767-245-9995) was open on this perfect birthday afternoon!
The waiter greeted me warmly. When I enquired about the delectable ”French” cooking that people were raving about, he modestly professed, “Oh yes, that is my wife. We prepare French-Caribbean-style recipes.” I scanned the menu, and while I was not ravenously hungry due to my big brunch at The Champs Restaurant a few hours earlier, I took the recommendation of a couple who were visiting from Catalonia: they were enthused about the octopus salad! In terms of seafood, it was an unusual choice for me. However, it could not have been any fresher. The octopi are harvested in the sheltered cove right in front of the restaurant!
The dish was well seasoned with local herbs, and the potatoes offset the stronger flavour of the octopus. The generous serving filled me up quickly. After I had finished the whole bowl, I felt in need of a little rest on this scorching Caribbean summer afternoon. The bamboo’ rocking chair’ set ocean-side in the sand was there waiting for me! I lounged for a seemingly long time – distracted by a clear view of Marie-galante, a nearby French West Indian island. Closer to shore, Frigate birds steeply dove into the shallow waters to pick up their fresh fish lunches. I watched a boy in flippers and mask bob up and down in his search for octopus, perhaps, not far from the nearby reef. I also caught
occasional glimpses of the couple from Catalonia, who frolicked in the gentle surf for a brief time before their scheduled departure from Dominica at Melville Hall Airport, a short drive away.
After another half hour, I did feel more refreshed. I paid my reasonably priced bill, and headed further south, en route to another popular place called Poz Restaurant and Bar. Unfortunately the friendly owner, a Canadian from Toronto, was not there, as he would be opening later that day due to it being the quiet time of year for tourists. We spoke by phone for a few minutes and I assured ‘Poz’ that I would be back to spend time at his well-received establishment on my next trip to Calibishie!
At this juncture, I had not eaten any cake for my ‘big day’. As many places were closed for the summer low season, I decided to check out a newly opened hotel along the main road near the fishing village of Anse de Mé (Mai). This new development, called Atlantique View Resort and Spa is roughly half-way between Calibishie and Portsmouth, right at the sharp bend where the road dramatically turns inland, away from the ocean.
When I drove up the steep lane, I was not sure if it was open at first. But almost right away, a man appeared on a distant balcony and motioned me in. I parked at a lower level (my choice), walked up the paved drive and followed the signs until I reached the restaurant area. I walked in and gasped – the spacious dining room was tastefully decorated with a dark solid wood interior, plentiful natural light and white linen tablecloths. It was lovely! However, it was mid-afternoon and I was not dressed for sitting in such an elegant setting. I asked the servers on this quiet day if I might have some cake and ice cream, with coffee. A young lady ushered me onto a spacious covered veranda, with a gorgeous view of a giant coconut grove and the mighty Atlantic just beyond it.
While the coconut cake was more like a pastry, the coconut ice cream
complemented it well. I relaxed there for a while and enjoyed the lovely surroundings of this 35 room hotel. By now, it was late afternoon and I was feeling slightly sleepy and very full, so I took my leave and wished the staff of this new venture well. They have not been open for a year at this writing and the spa is still under construction. However, I think it would be a wonderful place for any kind of retreat (personal or professional). They do have a huge conference room too!
I headed back to The Champs Hotel in Picard, Portsmouth for the last night of my birthday weekend before heading back to Roseau the next morning.
Post script: Little did I know that I would be in for a big birthday surprise (or two!) the following weekend. When three late-August born friends met at the former Springfield Plantation for a little get-together and a river ‘bath’, I had no idea that Nancy, the manager of this international education and research-based centre would offer presents and a big cake to Liz and me, as part of our celebration.
I did not take too many photos, as I was very much enjoying the ‘moment’, but I assure you it was a most fitting finale for my birthday festivities on the Nature Isle in 2014!
* ‘Lime’ is a West Indian expression for hanging out and having fun.