A Christmas 2015 Letter from Roseau Dominica

Season's Greetings to you from my home in Dominica, West Indies!

Season’s Greetings to you from my home in Dominica, West Indies!

Dear Readers of Ti Domnik Tales:

Merry Christmas from the Nature Isle!  I know it’s been a while since I have posted a note. Please accept my apologies for the delay.  I have been concentrating on preparing for an advanced level French exam here at Alliance Francaise for the past couple of months.  I only completed it just before Christmas.  You might also be curious to know that following Tropical Storm Erika and its devastating aftermath, I was not inclined to venture far from my home, for safety’s sake, as the ground was unstable and hiking trails (and roads) had to be cleared of storm debris.

However, I have recently traversed the island to spend a few wonderful

I appreciated a little 'dwon-time' in a lovely cottage opposite this one at Beau Rive, near Castle Bruce, Dominica.

I appreciated a little ‘down-time’ in a lovely cottage opposite this one at Beau Rive, near Castle Bruce, Dominica.

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This gorgeous angel adorned the top of the Christmas tree at the Beau Rive boutique hotel near Castle Bruce, Dominica.

days and nights at the charming Beau Rive boutique hotel near Castle Bruce on the east coast.   I am delighted to report that the roads are in good condition, and it was an easy journey through the mountains of the island’s interior. I will certainly be venturing further afield in the New Year, as bailey bridges have been erected across rivers where the previous structures had been washed away and most of the roads are motorable.

But life has not completely returned to normal here, as dozens of people who lost homes and properties as a result of the storm are being temporarily housed as they await new homes, which are presently being built by the Government of Dominica in safer areas.  Repairs to infrastructure are ongoing, and it is possible to completely enjoy the offerings of the Nature Island.  However,  it is important to remember that the destructive effects of global warming/climate change are leaving their marks, as evidenced in vulnerable countries and small island states such as Dominica.

This spectacular ocean view and teh crashing waves in Richmond provided the perfect back-drop for my year-end contemplation.

This spectacular ocean view and the crashing waves in Richmond Bay below Beau Rive provided the perfect back-drop for my year-end contemplation.

My recent break at Beau Rive was, in effect, a mini-retreat and pause for reflection over the past year, as well as an opportunity to document intentions for 2016. In this peaceful setting, I was able to look back on 2015, and recognize that my life in Dominica had changed to some degree, as I  actually spent more than four months abroad – some of it in Paris to attend the wedding of my wonderful French friends Carole and Gildas in January, followed by an extended ‘vacation’ in Canada as a result of Tropical Strom Erika.  That summer sojourn lasted from mid-June until the end of September. My delay resulted from the destruction  of the Douglas-Charles airport, which was quickly repaired within one month, thanks to the generous assistance and technical support of several caring countries.

While visiting with Mark, the Managing Director at Beau Rive and Angela, one of his repeat guests (17 times!), I paid close attention to our conversations.  In my quest for inspiration about the forthcoming year, I listened attentively to what was said that particularly resonated with me.  Suffice to say that our discussions centred on thinking of others who are less fortunate and being mindful of what we can do to make the world a better place in which to live. I also admired Angela’s personal strength and determination to have a fulfilling and rewarding life, and to not let any type of obstacle prevent her from living out her dreams.  Above all, I felt surrounded by kindness, consideration and good will.  I returned home with uplifted spirits and hope for a brighter future by  setting intentions to consciously spread good cheer (in any form)all year round.

I have much to be thankful for and I wish to express gratitude to all those who have  touched my life in very meaningful ways this past year.  In particular, I am grateful to my family in Canada for their support and encouragement, and for hosting me for an extended period when I was ‘storm-stayed’ in Canada.  I also appreciate the generous gesture of my niece Mara and my nephew Dallin, who willingly offered their usual Christmas present from me to help those in need in Dominica. I also wish to thank Canadian-Caribbean writer and friend Susan M. Toy, who included my blogs (Ti Domnik Tales and Canary Gal) on her list of notable authors for 2015.  She is the perfect example of someone who thinks of others with a giving heart while  happily pursuing her own career.

DSCF6281In the past couple of months, I was also profoundly moved by the positive results arising from the COP 21 climate action accord in Paris.  As well, I enthusiastically participated in Dominica’s week of thoughtful international documentaries about climate change, which was organized by Alliance Francaise. These sessions culminated in

During Dominica's 'Day of Action' , I was surrounded by new friends and old friends of like mind with respect to environmental responsibilities. From Left: new friends Dan and Maria and old friends Wendy and Liz.

During Dominica’s ‘Day of Action’ , I was surrounded by new friends and old friends of like mind with respect to environmental responsibilities. From left: new friends Dan and Maria and old friends Wendy and Liz.

Dominica’s Day of Action, coordinated by the Waitukubuli Ecological Foundation. While the attendees were small in number, the spirit of the movement was very big, and I congratulate all participants who are leading by example in Dominica.

During Dominca's Day of Action, children and adults created a waterfall from plastic bottles in the Botannical Gardens. The irony is not lost on me!

During Dominica’s ‘Day of Action’, children and adults created a waterfall from plastic bottles in the Botanical Gardens. The irony is not lost on me!

During this event, I made friends with two young people, Maria and Dan. Although we were just becoming acquainted, I really admired their passion, determination and dedication to eliminating and reducing environmental concerns on the Nature Island and of course, globally.

As the sun sets on 2015, I welcome the New Year with joy, hope, peace and love!

As the sun sets on 2015, I welcome the New Year with joy, hope, peace and love!

Despite the ravages of Tropical Storm Erika, Dominica’s resilience is apparent everywhere.

As 2015 draws to a close, I will send off this post to you, with warmest wishes for a peaceful, loving and caring New Year.  I hope that your adventures will be fruitful, and that you will give careful consideration to how you can make the world a better place now – and for the future!

The joy of life is the adventure! Photo taken in Montmartre, Paris in January 2015.

The joy of life is the adventure! Photo taken in Montmartre, Paris, France in January 2015.

I’ll be in touch in 2016, as I share my journey on the sensational Nature Island – and elsewhere!

Sincerely,

Gwendominica

 

 

 

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A Bit of Bliss at Beau Rive on Dominica`s East Coast: An Initimate Boutique Hotel with Countless Charms!

The view from my guest room at Beau Rive in Dominica is naturally soothing and entirely sensational.

The  Atlantic Ocean  view from my guest room at Beau Rive in Dominica is naturally soothing and completely sensational.

From any angle, this lovely plantation style inn is tucked in to natural surroundings.

From any angle, this lovely plantation style inn is tucked in to natural surroundings.

There are always so many things to do on Dominica, and the Creole-Independence season is no exception.  It had been a hectic and health-challenged couple of months since my return from Canada, and I felt that the best tonic for my recovery would be a little time away from the vibrant festivities.  So, instead of attending the 18th annual World Creole Music Festival, as I have for many years,  I decided I was deserving

Beau Rive Hotel is nestled into coastal forest and is surrounded by  lovely gardens on the property.

Beau Rive Hotel is nestled into coastal forest and is surrounded by lovely gardens on the property.

of a little down time at Beau Rive, a beautiful boutique hotel  near the village of Castle Bruce, on Dominica`s east coast.

I had spent some time here a few months earlier, and that brief respite aided me in my recovery from Chikungunya and helped me work through my grief from the loss of my beloved cat, Tia-pet.  I knew that another visit would lift my spirits and boost my immune system and I really looked forward to my next sojourn at Beau Rive.

From the moment I arrived, I could feel the  tension and stress melting away as I focused on the gorgeous gardens, stunning vistas and pounding surf as I settled into my cozy room.   I seated myself on the patio chair and meditated on the captivating view below me.  While the scene might seem the same to some, a careful study of the surf and terrain revealed different shades and hues of the rocks and the ocean`s multi-faceted moods at different times on different days.

From the dining room, I stare with fascination at this spellbinding scene.

From the dining room, I stared with fascination at this spellbinding scene.

I love to study this rocky outcrop and listen to the rhythmcial surf from my porch seat.

I love to study this rocky outcrop and listen to the rhythmical surf from my porch seat.

Then I  went back inside and lounged on the chaise longue as I read a few more chapters of an intriguing murder mystery, with settings in London, Toronto, Lisbon and Washington! ( I recommend Every Secret Thing by Canadian author Emma Cole, which I had borrowed from the Roseau Public Library).

Part of the healthy breakfast at Beau Rive included a fresh fruit bowl and a lime curd. Yum!

Part of the healthy breakfast at Beau Rive included a fresh fruit bowl from the garden, tangerine juice and a lime curd.  And there was more to come. Yum!

When I changed my view from distant to close-by, I had only to turn my head slightly to admire these beautiful flowers.

When I changed my view from distant to close-up, I had only to turn my head slightly to admire these beautiful flowers beside my room.

My pool  time before sunset enhanced my serene mood in this lovely locale.

My pool time before sunset enhanced my serene mood in this lovely locale.

Just before sunset, I  refreshed myself with a dip in the pool.  I had it all to myself as I swam back and forth several times to make sure that my appetite was at its peak for the delicious dinner I would enjoy a short while later.  Once again, I found myself in a hypnotic state as I gazed around me at the lush greenery and watched darling hummingbirds flitting to and fro as they sought one last floral drink before nightfall.

I had not yet seen Mark Steele, the proprietor  as he was overseas and would be arriving later that  first evening.  However, his friendly staff made sure that I was completely comfortable.  I had even been given advance notice about what I would have for my dinner – and I could hardly wait!  But the time passed quickly, and at 7 p.m. sharp, I was immediately delighted with the plates that were set before me.  I first savoured

Watercress Soup like no other - and it`s nutritious too!

Watercress Soup like no other – and it`s nutritious too!

mouth-watering watercress soup and garlic bread, and was tempted to ask for more.  However, that would not have been necessary,as the scrumptious California-style fish and chips with a  garden-fresh side salad were beyond compare.

California-style fish n chips - the taste was beyond compare!

California-style fish n chips – the taste was beyond compare!

I did not hesitate to tell the staff (and Mark the next day)that  the Beau Rive version of this popular Friday night dish was the best I had ever eaten!  The local fish Mahi-Mahi was sliced very thinly, fried very lightly and the potato chips were similarly cooked in  healthful coconut oil by Chef Anise.   I won`t soon forget that meal and I hope to have it again!  Needless to say that the other meals

Lime and ginger cheesecake - light and tangy - not overly sweet - just right!

Lime and ginger cheesecake – light and tangy – not overly sweet – just right!

were definitely delectable: homemade basil pesto on pasta the following evening; and yellow fin tuna (local) with fresh seasonings on my last night.  Homemade desserts always satisfied my sweet tooth.

Good thing I did a lot of walking on the hilly terrain around the property and along the quiet  main road. My exertions were entirely worth the reward of these fantastic dinners.

I certainly appreciated the horticultural efforts of Mark and his gardener.  Lovely flowers abounded all around Beau Rive.  I was amazed at the variety and I admired this additional aspect of simple, natural, elegant beauty on the hotel property.  I didn`t have to know their names, but I knew that the blooms, plants and trees gave me great delight and added to the serenity of my downtime at this quaint DSCF3294hotel.DSCF3300

Here is an array of the glorious offerings in the gardens around Beau Rive:DSCF3295

 

 

After my  active late morning-early afternoon forays along the east coast, (which will be described in forthcoming posts), I peacefully unwound in the tranquility and splendor which surrounded me at this casually elegant locale.  Mark and his staff, most of whom have been with him for many years have a knack for making guests feel right at home.  Their warm personalities, culinary talents and collective  desire to ensure that one`s stay is completely comfortable  add to the unforgettable experience of time spent well at Beau Rive.  If you don`t believe me, then check all the rave reviews on Trip Advisor    which confirm my own sentiments.

Frederick the frisky feline knew just what to do to make me laugh.

Frederick, Beau Rive`s frisky feline knew just what to do to make me laugh.

During my next visit to Beau Rive, I am going to spend time in this hammock located just off of the library.  Here, I am going to review some of the  books in the extensive collection right here.

During my next visit to Beau Rive, I am going to spend time in this hammock located just off of the library. I will review some of the books in the extensive house collection right here.

When visiting Dominica, or  in need  of a little escape from the rigors of everyday life, whether residing on-island or elsewhere, a little (or longer!) stay at Beau Rive is the perfect tonic for body, mind and soul.  It certainly works for me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Healing Weekend at Beau Rive, near Castle Bruce on the East Coast of Dominica

Welcome to Beau Rive! This inviting hammock, which is situated close to the library is one of a number of spots on the property for relaxation and solitude.

Welcome to Beau Rive! This inviting hammock, which  overlooks the ocean and is situated close to the library is one of a number of spots on the property for relaxation and solitude.

In a relaxed frame of mind after my invigorating walk at the Emerald Pool eco-site, which was followed by a fantastic lunch at Islet View Restaurant and Bar, I drove a short distance further to my destination that Saturday: Dominica`s renowned Beau Rive boutique hotel.

As soon as I arrived on the property, Florence and Maxim, the friendly house dogs barked excitedly as Mark Steele, proprietor of Beau Rive strode quickly to my car and warmly welcomed me with a firm handshake and  sincere smile. It was not my first time at this lovely hotel, and I felt instantly “at home” as I gazed around the beautifully manicured grounds. Right away, Mark took my bags and showed me to my room.

I am not a gardener but I do appreciate beautiful, well-tended plants and trees which adorn the property at Beau Rive!

I am not a gardener but I do appreciate the beautiful, well-tended plants and trees which adorn the property at Beau Rive!

There is something about Beau Rive - perhaps its simple  charm and inviting atmosphere that makes me what to return again and again!

There is something very special about Beau Rive –  its tasteful details, private setting and inviting atmosphere make me want to return again and again!

After some brief instructions about the room’s features and details about dinner, Mark left me to my own devices. I took a little time to unpack and then admired this sensational setting before a planned  nap.  Pretty anthurium lilies in a vase complemented the beautiful Nature Island painting by local artist Marie Frederick.  A quiet ceiling fan circulated cool ocean breezes around the room.  But  I was most enraptured with the expansive balcony and its captivating view: far below, a gentle, rhythmical surf pounded against ancient rocks that

At Beau Rive, every room and cottage has a spectacular ocean view.

At Beau Rive, every room and cottage has a spectacular ocean view.

formed a tiny promontory. As I gazed further out into the mighty Atlantic, several shades of blue blended into the cottony cloud-covered sky.  With the veranda doors wide open, I lay down on the bed, but resisted shutting my eyes.  I just couldn’t stop gazing at that magnificent scene right from my propped-up pillow!

When I arrived at the upstairs dining area just before 7 p.m., Mark met me there and asked if I had had a good rest.  I chuckled as I told him that I did feel more refreshed but that I had been unable to close my eyes because I was so entranced by the view!

Mark had already asked me about food preferences when I made the reservation.   He  and his staff had graciously prepared a delicately seasoned local tuna dish with fresh vegetables.  The appetizer did contain tomatoes, but I hadn’t mentioned that they can be problematic sometimes.  As it was only a starter, I did sample this popular fruit  which lightly topped a  delicate pastry crust – and  it was divine!  I had already requested smaller servings so that I could enjoy everything and let nothing go to waste.  Of course, I savored every morsel, including the rum-flavoured chocolate cake! (Unfortunately my camera could not capture the details of these appealing plates in the evening light).

In the background, a mix of  easy-listening tunes – R+B, jazz, opera arias and instrumental medleys complemented this superb dining experience.  In the foreground, the strong waves made their presence known and nearby  tree frogs greeted the evening with gusto. But the melodious blend of sounds did not interfere with an interesting conversation about books between me and Allison, another repeat guest at Beau Rive. We were enveloped in soft candlelight at our  adjacent table settings and our exchange flowed easily. She confessed that although she is Barbadian by birth  and now resides in the U.S., Dominica is always her first choice for a vacation – but not only that – in her mind it has to at Beau Rive, and nowhere else! When I queried this seasoned traveller further over the weekend about the essence of her attraction to this lovely hotel, she always responded with, ” There is nowhere else like it. It is so unique.  It is different from everywhere else.”   We both agreed that  one can get away from everything and quietly rejuvenate here in complete comfort.

Mark Steele obviously has a special gift and a magic touch that has enabled his quaint hotel to attract guests from all over the world.  Many return to repeat their exceptional experiences and some even invite him to visit them in their homelands!  It is obvious that careful thought, meticulous attention to details, consistent dedication to the highest standards possible as a hotelier, and of course, a love of, interest in and concern for his guests and his staff have resulted in regular  highly ranked recognition on Trip Advisor.   At this writing, Beau Rive is the  number one hotel in Dominica (June 2014). It’s not the only time he has placed first and he has also  previously received a number of other awards for his renowned hospitality endeavors.  If you stay at Beau Rive, you will quickly understand why!

Almost immediately after I ate, I returned to my room to read for a while.  It wasn’t long before I drifted off to sleep to the crash of  the distant surf and the pattering of a

Young Maxim welcomed me at the top of the stairs as I made my way to breakfast.

Young Maxim welcomed me at the top of the stairs and put a big smile on my face as I made my way to breakfast.

light rain on the roof. I awoke early to enjoy a muted sunrise amidst some gray clouds.  At about 7:45 a.m., I left the room for breakfast on the upstairs patio.  The dogs greeted me along the way and I also met Frederick the frisky ginger-coloured kitty.  These pets really gave me some extra cheer and lessened the pain of the loss of Tia-pet,     my cherished cat of 16 1/2 years.

This is the 'starter' to breakfast at Beau Rive.  Fruits of all kinds - in juice and salad, along with homemade yoghurt and local honey.  There was also a lime curd, if desired.  Then came toast and sweet rolls and home-made condiments including christophene jam!

This is the ‘starter’ to the healthy breakfast at Beau Rive: fruits of all kinds – in juice and salad, along with homemade yoghurt and local honey. There was also a lime curd, if desired. Then came toast and sweet bread and creatively concocted condiments including christophene jam!

As I took my seat overlooking that spectacular ocean scene, a huge bowl of mixed fruits was placed before me.  Mark enjoys growing his own fruits and vegetables and some of his labours were in the mix.  On the second morning, he proudly told me about his success at producing cantaloupe.  It’s very uncommon on the Nature Island and here I was enjoying it at that very moment!

My plan for a Sunday outing was a long overdue refresher tour of one of Dominica’s principle historic and cultural sites: Kalinago Barana Aute (Carib Model Village).  It was only a 20 minute drive through the Kalinago Territory from Beau Rive, and Mark felt this would be an opportune time to visit, as it would be quiet on the road on Sunday morning and it was also low season, meaning there would likely be fewer people there.

I left not long after breakfast.  I had already informed Mark that I would probably be a couple of hours.  I will report on that incredible experience in the next blog post, but suffice it to say that when I got there, I was informed that my tour would be delayed as the guides were waiting for a French group to arrive and I would go along with them.  Being familiar with Mark’s concern about his guests, I immediately called him and informed him that I would be later returning than I had earlier predicted.  He was very grateful for my message.  I knew that he would worry if I didn’t show up as planned.

When I arrived back at Beau Rive about four hours later, Mark was at his garden for the afternoon and it seemed that no one else was about. (The staff were in the kitchen quietly preparing dinner)> .  I lay down for a few minutes until I heard the sound of a familiar pick-up truck in the driveway.  Lo and behold, it was Dr. Ronnie and Dr. Nausima, my favourite veterinarians!  Mark mentioned earlier that they might be around to check on his

pets (including a cow tethered  near his garden).  I was surprised to see them and it was very meaningful to spend some time with the vets in a more relaxed setting since the cat had passed away.   After they attended Florence, mother of Maxim, they went to meet Mark and check on his cow.  I was supposed to go along, but after my lengthy morning tour and slow recovery from chikungunya, I opted for a little down time in my peaceful room.

Husband and wife veterinary team Dr. Ronnie George and Dr. Nausima Paul attend to Florence, beloved pet of Mark Steele at Beau Rive.    These wonderful vets can be contacted at their clinic (767) 440-8387 or by mobile at 277-4811/275-4935.

Husband and wife veterinary team Dr. Ronnie George and Dr. Nausima Paul attend to Florence, beloved pet of Mark Steele at Beau Rive. These wonderful vets can be contacted at their clinic (767) 440-8387 or by mobile at 277-4811/275-4935.

The timing was perfect, because when they returned about an hour later, they called me to join them for a drink on the patio. Mark prepared and served our preferred beverages. Then he joined us.  We discussed all manner of things, including, health, family, world affairs and of course, animals!  While Mark is usually reticent to disclose much about his earlier life (he is an accomplished professional pianist), the British expatriate told us about some other fascinating posts  and travels he had previously experienced in different countries.  He explained that all of his past endeavors contributed to  the realization of his dream of creating Beau Rive in Dominica.  I won’t give anything else away – you’ll have to ask him yourself!

Our conversation segued into the dinner hour.  The vets  took their leave and I sat down to the most delicious pumpkin-coconut milk soup imaginable.  That was followed by a big bowl of pasta topped with a  creamy goat cheese/sun-dried tomato sauce (made from scratch, naturally!), and then  ice-cream and cake for dessert.  I was full, but I ate it all – I could not resist it!  Allison and I chatted over tea for a while and again shared reasons for our enduring fascination with Beau Rive.  The conclusion was the same as before:  for our purposes of rest, relaxation, tranquility, character, charm, hospitality and price, it just doesn’t get any better than this!

Then Allison went to the library to watch a DVD and I stayed in the upstairs lounge for a little while longer to get better acquainted with Frederick the cat.  We played for a few minutes and then he was off  on a night-time prowl.  When I passed the library door, Mark asked me if I would like to see the movie, but I declined.  I was sleep-walking and could only just make it back to my room!

mark steele

Mark Steele, proprietor of Beau Rive has successfully created a casually elegant oasis that holds appeal for all those who have had (and will have!) the pleasure of spending time there. Photo contributed by Mark.

On my last morning, Mark departed after breakfast, taking along guest Allison to run  respective errands in Roseau.  I was told to take my time checking out and I did linger a little longer,spending half an hour doing mini-laps in the pristine pool.  In these peaceful surroundings, the swim in tepid water did ease the arthritis-like pain that persisted with chikungunya.

As I headed back to Roseau feeling very refreshed and revitalized, I reaffirmed that a little time spent at Beau Rive is definitely a healing tonic for body, mind and soul!