Strangers in Paradise: A Canadian Family Spends an Unforgettable Day in Dominica!*

A Family of Friendlly Maritime 'Strangers" enjoyed a recent visit to Dominica and a long chat with me!

A family of friendly  Canadian Maritime ‘Strangers” enjoyed a recent visit to Dominica and a long chat with me!

When my longtime Canadian friend, affectionately known as Jude advised me by email that “Company is Coming” to Dominica, I initially thought that I might finally see her after almost 18 years! However, that was not to be this time round, but the visitors who arrived on the Nature Island were definitely the next best thing to seeing my dear old Maritime buddy! Jude’s son Ben and his wife Raquel travelled with  her parents and a sister and brother-in-law to make up a group of six. They were ready to take in

I watched the Celebrity Summit mooring at the Roseau Cruise Ship Pier from my back porch.

From my back porch, I watched the Celebrity Summit mooring at the Roseau Cruise Ship Pier on Tuesday March 3, 2015.

some of the spectacular sites on the Nature Island as I had given these strangers a few suggestions in advance via correspondence with Jude.

When I watched the Celebrity Summit cruise ship dock along the pier on the Bayfront in Roseau, I knew that this lovely family would experience the verdant rainforest on a drizzly day in paradise.   As they were also cruising to other islands, I urged them to take to the mountains of Dominica, as they would not see anything like them anywhere else during their week-long voyage!

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Some of my favourite fruits: from top, clockwise: coconuts; guava cherries; cacao pods; avocado pear; pineapple.

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The Emerald Pool is a popular tourist attraction and is easily accessible.

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When my new-found friends took a dip in the Emerald Pool, they had it all to themselves!

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Even in the rain, the twin Trafalgar Falls are well worth some appreciative looks from the sheltered viewing platform.

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The mother fall of the Trafalgar Falls (on the right) is accessible and can be viewed close up in drier weather, although the rocks can be slippery.

When I met the friendly ‘strangers’ at 2 p.m., they had truly sampled the essence of the Nature Island: the rainforest.  I delighted to hear them recount their experiences in the mountainous interior of the Nature Island, as organized by Dominica’s Whitchurch Tours.  When they arrived at the renowned Emerald Pool, they were drawn to the cool basin at its base and were compelled to take a dip, despite the prevalent dampness of the day.  While the twisting and turning inland roads kept them on the edge of their seats, they seemed to be spellbound by the natural beauty all around them.  Trafalgar Falls was a bit of trek in the wet, but of course, one doesn’t get to admire twin waterfalls very often in the Maritimes! I could have learned a thing or two from my new friends, but the names of the inedible fruits they mentioned to me were unfamiliar.  There are so many natural sweet treats on the Nature Island that I guess I have ignored those that I cannot personally enjoy.

The 12,000 seat cricket stadium is a prominent site when looking over Roseau from Morne Bruce.

The 12,000 seat cricket stadium is a prominent site when looking over Roseau from Morne Bruce.

They also told me about their excursion to the look-off point at Morne Bruce over Roseau, but I got an impression

This ancient cannon on Morne Bruce is a reminder of earlier centuries when French and England were battling for possessino of the Nature Island!

This ancient cannon on Morne Bruce is a reminder of earlier centuries when French and England were battling for possession of the Nature Island!

that it was raining hard at that time, so some of the lovely view was lost in the mist. They were in awe of the 12,000 seat cricket stadium below then and they admired the cheery blue and yellow of the Astaphans Department Store. They also passed through the Botanical Gardens, but in the inclement weather and  with hunger pangs setting in, they did not  have energy to venture out of the bus.  Instead, they contented themselves with the lushness of the place and the reminder of the devastation of Hurricane David in 1979:  the squashed school bus under the baobab tree! 

The lush Botanical Gardens offer peace and tranquility to all who spend time there.

The lush Botanical Gardens offer peace and tranquility to all who spend time there.

No one was in this bus in the Botannical Gardens when it was crushed during Hurricane David in 1979

No one was in this bus in the Botanical Gardens when it was crushed during Hurricane David in 1979

The adventurous family  really did

A Reaerch Facility for the critically endangered Crapaud (mountain chicken) frog is located in the Botanical Gardens.  You can read an earlier post about it here.

A Research Facility for the critically endangered Crapaud (mountain chicken) frog is located in the Botanical Gardens. You can read an earlier post about it here.

enjoy their extensive rainforest tour . They were intrigued that Dominica, the Nature Island is noted for longevity and has one of the highest number of centenarians of any country in the world.  Of course, they heard about ‘Ma Pampo’, Dominica’s late grand lady who is reputed to have lived 128 years.  You can read about my findings here.

Then I had to gasp when  Gordon, the dad of the group remarked that they were told there were six women to every man on Dominica! I impulsively declared that this was a gross exaggeration.  They were puzzled  by that ‘fact’ because they noticed more men than women during their tour.  I will leave that part to speculation, however, I have confirmed on numerous  official sources online that there are in fact slightly more men than women in all age groups on the Nature Island, with the exception of those over 65.  Perhaps the guide’s comment was intended  to keep the visitors on their toes!!

These lovely cruise-shippers and I also conversed for a while about my life on Dominica and I did attempt to give them a quick overall picture as I sipped on a coffee with them gathered around me on the boardwalk terrace of the Fort Young Hotel.  As it has been 18 years since I first arrived here, I have  had many adventures, some of which are outlined throughout my Ti Domnik Tales blog.  I will not repeat what I’ve already posted, but if you are curious, you might wish to refer to this interview that I posted in 2014 on the popular global Expats Blog at their invitation.

The Roseau Public Library is a popular place for traditional bibliophiles!

The Roseau Public Library is a popular place for traditional bibliophiles!

As the afternoon wore on, I could see that the group’s rainforest meanderings had given way to a healthy

The Fort Young Hotel is a great place to meet friends, have a meal and/or spend the night!

The Fort Young Hotel is a great place to meet friends, have a meal and/or spend the night!

drowsiness.  They soon had to get back on the ship, so I proposed a little walk  around the front of the stately Fort Young Hotel, so that I could show them a couple of historic sites, as well as point to the hilly suburban area where I live just south of Roseau.  I delighted in showing them the Roseau Public Library, which was built with funds from American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1906. My friend and fellow librarian Jude would have been thrilled to see this century+ building and its contents.  I am so glad that her family was able to have a peek.  It’s one of my favourite places to go in Roseau and I am a proud and faithful borrower of  books from its fascinating collection!

We walked slowly back to the cruise ship pier, and I wished my new

Gwendominica (centre) wore a Canadian Maritime T-shirt when she met momentary strangers during their day trip to Dominica. We poseted for this pic just before I said farewell and they boarded the ship!

Gwendominica (centre) wore a Canadian Maritime T-shirt when she met momentary strangers during their day trip to Dominica. We posed for this pic just before I said farewell and they boarded the ship on the Roseau Bayfront!

friends a wonderful continuation of their Caribbean cruise.  It was such a pleasure to meet them and I expect I’ll see them again. As mum Debra is from the Annapolis Valley, I really will smile if I see members of this group next summer when I venture to Nova Scotia to visit my own relations in that area.  Of course, I do hope they will come back to Dominica too.  I trust their day trip has left them with lasting impressions of paradise:the Nature Island!

* Hey Jude – this one’s for you!  One can never be a stranger when we live “under the same moon.” XO

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4 comments on “Strangers in Paradise: A Canadian Family Spends an Unforgettable Day in Dominica!*

  1. Jude says:

    Thank you Gwen for greeting my family and for the lovely report! You are a treasure, and yes, I often think of you when I look at the moon. Till next time my friend xo

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  2. Raquel says:

    Was such a pleasure to meet you! Dominica was BEAUTIFUL! It was our favourite port on our cruise. Would love to visit again someday!

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    • gwendominica says:

      Oh Raquel, the feeling is mutual! I am thrilled that you were captivated by Dominica’s natural charms. I hope we will meet again someday. In the mean time, best wishes to you and Ben, and the rest of your lovely family!

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