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!

DSCF4789

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

DSCF3258

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

DSCF3268

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

DSCF1160

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

DSCF1166

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

Daytripping Along Dominica`s Eastern Shore: The Village of Castle Bruce and Environs

Gwendominica enjoys a little rest stop at the Emerald Pool in Dominica`s interior. It`s a popular site, with good reason, due to its natural beauty.

Gwendominica enjoys a little rest stop at the Emerald Pool in Dominica`s interior. It`s a popular site, with good reason, due to its natural beauty.

DSCF3268

The Emerald Pool features a variety of pretty green hues.

Whenever I spend a little time at Beau Rive in the Castle Bruce area on Dominica`s east coast, I always make a stop at the Emerald Pool   on my way there. It`s an easy 20 minute loop trail and the waterfall is found about halfway along the path.  Although only 20 minutes from my destination, I enjoy stretching my legs and breathing in the pure air in this rainforest setting.

The view from a look-off on the east side of the Emerald Pool trail includes the mighty Atlantic in the distance.

The view from a look-off on the east side of the Emerald Pool trail includes the mighty Atlantic in the distance.

Segment 5 of the Waitukubuli National Trail passes near the Emerald Pool.  It begins at Pond Casse in the middle of the island and ends at Castle Bruce.

Segment 5 of the Waitukubuli National Trail passes near the Emerald Pool. It begins at Pond Casse in the middle of the island and ends at Castle Bruce (about 13 kms).

I had a little refreshment  at the on-site snack bar and  then I was on the road again. But not for long.  It was early afternoon by the time I arrived on the east coast and I`d worked up an appetite from my little outing in the forest. I headed straight to Islet View Restaurant, run by a Canadian-Dominican named Rudy.  He can really cook up a storm and this time was no different, confirmed by the fact that every seat in the dining room was filled with visitors, mainly from the neighbouring

Gwendominica is glistening and glowing from her Emerald Pool work-out.  She refreshes herself with a big glass of golden apple juice - the local variety of course!

Gwendominica  glistened and glowed from her Emerald Pool work-out. She refreshed herself at Islet View Restaurant with golden apple juice – the local variety of course!

French islands. They were in Dominica to enjoy the 18th annual World Creole Music Festival.  I found a little space at a back table where I enjoyed my overflowing plate of Mahi-mahi fish, ground provisions, stewed beans, rice and  green salad. I ate as much of it as I could.

I always enjoy the view of the islets of Castle Bruce from the restaurant of the same name!

I always enjoy the view of the islets of Castle Bruce from the restaurant of the same name!

The Castle Bruce beach beckoned me for a beach walk.  I did so the next day!

The Castle Bruce beach beckoned me for a beach walk. I did so the next day!

I felt it was enough for two people, and I was also holding back. I was well aware that I would receive another large meal at Beau Rive a few hours later.

The next morning, I set off from my quaint east coast home base to explore the village of Castle Bruce and its expansive beach.  The pretty little hamlet is situated near to the ocean.  Although there was no storm that day, the persistent surf made its presence known, whether one was at sea level or higher up the steep slope of this compact residential area. I admired the church and its serene setting and then drove along the road that skirted the ocean.

Villagers take pride in their beautiful beach and they respectfully request that you do the same!

Villagers take pride in their beautiful beach and they respectfully request that you do the same!

The Sea Breeze Inn as seen from Castle Bruce Beach.

The Sea Breeze Inn as seen from Castle Bruce Beach.

The pretty Catholic church is situated a short distance from the ocean in Castle Bruce.

The pretty Catholic church is situated a short distance from the ocean in Castle Bruce.

I stopped when I came upon a bright blue building set against the beach.  It was in fact a little hotel, called the Sea Breeze Inn and I was on time for a late morning snack!  But first, I took a leisurely stroll along the long stretch of sand.  Storm clouds were moving in, and I walked as quickly as I could to its far end, where I came upon the mouth of the Castle Bruce River.  There, I saw a man with a fishing net. I assumed he knew where he would make a catch. I waved at him and hastened back to the inn for my treat. Before I reached

The mouth of the Castle Bruce River offers shallow pools for wading and fishing.

The mouth of the Castle Bruce River offers shallow pools for wading and fishing.

the entrance way, a squall caught me off-guard.My umbrella was no help in the stiff breeze and driving rain.  Although a little damp, I dried off in no time, as it was actually a very warm day. Ms. Lockhart, the proprietor served me the freshest guava juice, along with a tuna bake and a special surprise: her homemade pumpkin fritters.

Fresh guava fruit juice, a tuna-stuffed bake (deep fried bread) and sweet spicy pumpkin fritters (bottom) sustained me for several hours.

Fresh guava fruit juice, a tuna-stuffed bake (deep-fried bread) and sweet spicy pumpkin fritters (bottom) sustained me for several hours.

This delicious local snack quelled my hunger pangs so that I was ready for the next part of the day`s adventure: a southerly drive along the coast to the well-known historic fishing village of San Sauveur.

As I drove along the steep and winding road, it was difficult to admire the gorgeous views of Grand Marigot Bay

and the surrounding quaint villages high above the ocean.  Therefore,

Grand Marigot Bay below with the village of Good Hope perched on the steep slope!

Grand Marigot Bay below with the village of Good Hope perched on the steep slope!

when I reached the hamlet of Good Hope, a friendly lady named Rachelle directed me to a safe parking spot so I could walk and admire the sights  instead.  I switched from sandals to walking shoes and headed `down`to the coastline. After 20 minutes, I stood in front of the historic Catholic church in San Sauveur.

The San Sauveur Catholic Church

The  sturdily built San Sauveur Catholic Church at sea level  has stood the test of time against the elements.

Despite hurricanes and occasional strong storms, it  offers regular worship services to faithful followers in this somewhat remote area.

I continued along behind the church for a few minutes until I came upon a number of fishing boats at their moorings.

Fishing boats rest quietly on the moorings at San Sauveur on a Saturday afternoon.

Fishing boats rested quietly on their moorings at San Sauveur on a Saturday afternoon.

A few had been out and had come in a short time earlier.  The fishermen rushed over to me to enquire about my interest in a purchase of fish.  I of course declined as I was being served meals at Beau Rive, which included such fare.  They were disappointed as it was a quiet afternoon.  As I turned to go, they asked where I had parked my vehicle.  When I replied that I had walked down from the neighbouring village of Good Hope, they were collectively shocked!

Outside of the breakwater fro the boats, the surf at San Sauveur was very strong that Saturday afternoon.

Outside of the breakwater for the boats, the surf at San Sauveur was very strong that Saturday afternoon.

As I commenced the steep ascent, I was glad that I had carried my umbrella, not for protection against rain though.  It was early afternoon and strong sunshine prevailed high above me. I didn`t mind the sweat and distracted myself with all the breathtaking vistas below me. After a short while, I was back in Good Hope.  The villagers who had watched me leave were surprised that I had been able to do the trek so quickly!  I proudly proclaimed that I had hiked over large parts of Dominica and was now getting back in shape after my bout of Chikungunya.  I purchased a cold bottle of spring water from  a tiny snackette and returned to the car.  After this lovely outing, I headed back to Beau Rive on the quiet road.  About half an hour later, I was sitting on my porch chair, looking forward to dinner and contemplating the routes for my excursions over the next couple of days.

You`ll read about  my visits to Pagua Bay, Richmond Bay and Rosalie Bay in the next post!

A Boat Ride up Dominica’s Indian River: Mystical, Magical, Completely Natural!

The unusal scenery along Dominica's Indian River near Portsmouth is completely captivating to me.

The unusual scenery along Dominica’s Indian River near Portsmouth is completely captivating to me.

One of the first items on my tourist agenda while staying near Portsmouth, Dominica at The Champs Hotel, was a long overdue refresher

Even Hollywood producers were captivated by the Indian River.  They filmed parts of Pirates of the Caribbean II right here in 2005.  This is the witches hut - perfect right here, I think!

Even Hollywood producers were spellbound by the Indian River. They filmed parts of Pirates of the Caribbean II right here in 2005. This is the witch’s hut –  completely believable, I think!

boat ride up the Indian River.  Admittedly, I had experienced the magic and mystery of this natural setting several times over the years.  But it is the kind of place that one can never tire of seeing again: the scenery, the history and the method of transport does hold tremendous appeal for a lover of Dominica’s culture and nature like me!

The driver from the hotel called ahead to confirm that ‘Sparrow’ was available to take me in his wooden fishing boat for the mile long journey up the river.  He met me by the side of the road, and  we walked down to the dock where he helped me settle on a front seat.  I did not need an eco-site pass, as I am a resident of Dominica.  Of course, I had to confirm this with the forestry officer on site, because I was definitely dressed like a tourist with a fair complexion!

‘Sparrow’ sat at the back of the boat, picked up the oars and we commenced to traverse the broad mouth of the river.  He immediately instructed me about the history of the area.

The journey up the Indian River begins here, at its mouth, as  seen from the Indian River Bridge above it.

The journey up the Indian River begins here at its mouth, as seen from the Indian River Bridge.  It flows into the Caribbean Sea.

'Sparrow' a.k.a. 'Spaghetti' (his admission) is a Rastafarian from Portsmouth who has been guiding visitors on the Indian River for 35 years.  He told me that he loves his job, even after all this time - a very good sign!

‘Sparrow’ a.k.a. ‘Spaghetti’ (his admission) is a Rastafarian from Portsmouth who has guided visitors on the Indian River for 35 years. He told me that he loves his job, even after all this time – a very good sign!

First, he explained that there had once been a Kalinago (Carib) settlement a little higher up the river.  While it no longer exists, and these indigenous people generally live in the Kalinago Territory on the northeast coast of Dominica now, the name stuck over the centuries.  He immediately pointed out various types of flora along the water’s edge.  I always wish I carried a notebook to recall them all.

This unlikely building remnant was part of a railway bridge that carried timber from the Brandy Estate to the river, so that it cuold then be offloaded onto boats, taken to the sea coast and shipped overseas.  The island's only railraod only lasted a few years in the early 20th century!

This unlikely building remnant was part of a railway bridge that carried timber from the Brandy Estate to the river, so that it could then be offloaded onto boats, taken to the sea-coast where there was a sawmill. The island’s only railroad only ever lasted  just  a few years in the early 20th century!

Pretty yellow flowers flourished near the mouth of the Indian River.  Their name escapes me!

Pretty yellow flowers flourished near the mouth of the Indian River. Their name escapes me, but I think each blossom only lasts for a day!

But I do remember the fauna ‘Sparrow pointed out to me: plentiful mullets swimming near the surface of the deep, brackish waters; Ramyé pigeons cooing high in the tree-tops; ubiquitous land crabs scattered among the twisted Mang  tree roots near the river’s edge;

The land crabs moved quickly, but I was able to capture this shot before this one bolted!

The land crabs moved quickly, but I was able to capture this shot before this one bolted!

green herons squawking overhead;  a large male iguana sunning himself on a tree branch high above the river; gargantuan termite nests attached to dead trees.

I was content to admire the termite nests from a distance!

I was content to admire the termite nests from a distance!

I was completely taken by the scene that surrounded me.  In this pristine swamp-like environment,  the creatures thrived in its bio-diverse eco-system.

A sense of complete calmness came over me as I marvelled at this unique setting.  At one point, ‘Sparrow’ pulled the boat ashore and cut a few long strands of a reed called roseau (the capital city is named after this plant, which also grows along the Roseau River!), which was found at numerous points along the river.  “I will make something for you to take with you,’ he said.  I looked at him curiously, but did not reply.  Grasses and reeds are found in abundance on the Nature Island.  To this day, the Kalinago people fashion handcrafts from various plants, as I observed on my recent visit there, which is found here.

It does say Croc, not Clock!  After a drink of 'Dynamite', you might not see the difference.  And no, there are not any crocodiles in the river!

It does say Croc, not Clock! After a drink of ‘Dynamite’, you might not see the difference. And no, there are not any crocodiles in the river!

After about half an hour, we arrived at a dock upriver where a little bar is tucked into the natural setting.  There, I wandered along the well-marked trails and admired the dramatic setting of the Indian River from this inland vantage point.

Plentiful plants are found along the trails by the river near the inland 'Bush Bar'.

Plentiful plants are found along the trails by the river near the inland ‘Bush Bar

 Look at these fascinating buttress roots!This mangrove is called a bloodwood tree because of its reddish sap.

Look at those fascinating buttress roots! This type of mangrove is called a bloodwood tree because of its reddish sap.

When I returned from my stroll, it was time for a little refreshment.  Sparrow chose passion-fruit juice, while I asked the friendly bartender if she had any tea.  She offered me freshly made ginger-basilic (herbal), which she offered to warm up.  I declined the extra heat and sipped on the natural healthy beverage at ‘room temperature’. I was aware that they do offer guests alcoholic drinks as well. Sparrow told me that the ‘Dynamite’ concoction is still a popular brew.  Under its influence, visitors have been known to spontaneously cool off.  Good thing the waters are fairly deep and the  helpful guides are nearby!

These handcrafts were presented to me by Sparrow.  They were made from the roseau reed that he cut at the river's edge.

These handcrafts were presented to me by Sparrow. They were made from the roseau reed that he cut at the river’s edge.

Other visitors excitedly point at a natural feature that has captured their attention.

Other visitors excitedly point at a natural feature that has captured their attention.

After this additional commune with nature, we returned to Sparrow’s boat and spent the next half hour or so in contented silence.  This serene setting provoked a meditative mood in me and I was content just to take in the sights at this intriguing site.

I did smile when I observed other visitors caught up in the excitement of their boat ride on the Indian River.  I could completely understand why!

Whether you are a resident,  a prospective traveller or a current visitor, the Indian River Boat Ride is a compelling way to passively experience the essence of the Nature Isle!

 

 

 

Learning about Indigenous Kalinago Culture and History in Dominica

This 'Ajoupa' is a traditional shelter and welcoming landmark at the Kalinago Barana Aute in Dominica.

This ‘Ajoupa’ is a traditional shelter and welcoming landmark at the Kalinago Barana Aute in Dominica.

On the Sunday morning of my weekend at Beau Rive   near Castle Bruce, I eagerly drove through the Kalinago (Carib) Territory to revisit a very

Kalinago guides, Ms. Frances and Ms. Paris take Gwendominica and 25 visitors on a tour of the model village in English, French and Creole!

Kalinago guides, Ms. Frances (l) and Ms. Paris took Gwendominica and 25 visitors on a tour of the model village in English, French and Creole!

important cultural site in Dominica. After 20 minutes on the road, I arrived at the Kalinago Barana Aute, which means Kalinago (Model) Village by the Sea. I was greeted by my guide named Ms. Frances with ‘Mabrika!’ which translates to ‘Welcome!’ in English.

She then took me into a room where the  walls  were lined with maps, charts and photos.  Ms. Frances proceeded to explain a considerable amount about Kalinago history and culture.  I wish I had taken a notebook with me!  However, it is possible to learn more about these indigenous people through various informative web sites, including this article by local historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch, found here.

The Kalinago people paddled  from South America through the Caribbean islands over 1,000 years ago. When they first glanced at Dominica’s mountainous topography, they called her ‘Waitukubuli’, which means ‘tall is her body’. Guide Frances emphatically stressed that it was not Columbus who “discovered” Dominica when he sighted the island on his second voyage in 1493: the Kalinagos were already here!

Dominica was accurately named  Waitukubuli by the Kalinago people when they first saw the mountainous island over 1,000 years ago.  It means 'tall is her body'.

Dominica was accurately named Waitukubuli by the Kalinago people when they first saw the mountainous island over 1,000 years ago. It means ‘tall is her body’.

During British colonial rule, a tract of land (almost 4,000 acres)  in the northeastern part of Dominica was given to the Kalinagos in the early 20th century.  It was  then called the Carib Reserve, but is now called the Kalinago Territory, as it was the Europeans who referred to these indigenous people as ‘Carib’.  Today about 3,000 inhabitants live in eight villages in this specific  area.

One of the panels in the interpretive room at Kalinago Barana Aute.  The baskets, made from a grass called larouma, all serve specific purposes.

One of the panels in the interpretive room at Kalinago Barana Aute. The basket is made from a grass called larouma. There is a traditional hunting bow on the far left (blue) and a drum (centre right).

I was extremely impressed that they have preserved their culture very well, and continue with traditions such as canoe-building, basket-making, carving, pottery-making, farming, fishing, dancing, drumming and

Teresa weaves a basket from the larouma reed.  These vessels have a variety of functions.  They are available for sale throughout the Kalinago Territory

Teresa was weaving a basket from the larouma reed. These vessels  are crafted in various shapes ans sizes and have a variety of functions. They are available for sale throughout the Kalinago Territory

herbal medicine.  When Ms. Frances finished describing the content of the graphically detailed wall panels, she suggested that I have a look around in the crafts area while we waited for the large group to arrive. There, I casually chatted with the attendants, and (unsurprisingly) the subject of chikungunya came up! As these  are people very familiar with the healing powers of many of Dominica’s plants, I sought their advice about natural remedies for the arthritic-like pain that persists with this illness. An elder lady immediately

recommended pure bay leaf oil mixed with virgin coconut oil.  I purchased some from her and am delighted to say with faithful application to my tender joints,  it has alleviated the pain considerably.  I am able to walk with less of a limp now – soon I’ll be back on the hiking trails again!

Then I sauntered over to the canteen area, as I felt a  little refreshment would energize me for the  guided walk around the grounds.  The kitchen staff was busy preparing lunch for the organized tour that  I was waiting for, and didn’t have any juice made yet.  However, they offered me the juiciest, sweetest,  fresh pineapple slices that really ‘hit the spot’!  I had just finished this tasty treat when the French visitors appeared.  Ms. Frances sought me out and I returned to the interpretation centre.  This time, Ms. Paris gave the presentation in French and Creole.  It was the perfect situation in which to practice my French comprehension skills. Besides, I had already been through it in English and by now had a thorough grasp of pertinent details about Dominica’s first people.

Here is a cleverly carved serpent  from natural wood that looks very real to me!

Here is a cleverly carved serpent from natural wood that looks very real to me!

Then we headed out en masse and our guides stopped us at various points along the way.

They explained about the larouma reed which is used in crafting the beautiful baskets. We were also shown vetiver grass, which is dried and used for thatching roofs and making mats.  The traditional dug-out canoe, carved from the trunk of a gommier tree was most impressive.  The sticky ‘gum’ from this tree forms a natural sealant on the wood, making this fishing craft waterproof!

Vetiver grass has multiple uses when dried, including thatch and durable mats.

Vetiver grass has multiple uses when dried, including thatch and durable mats.

This traditional dug-out canoe from a gommier tree is definitely seaworthy!

This traditional dug-out canoe from a tall gommier tree is definitely seaworthy!

In this particular dance, the young Kalinago is moving like a hummingbird, which forms part of a traditional legend.

In this particular dance, the young Kalinago moved like a hummingbird, which formed part of a traditional legend.

The young ladies of this Kalinago dance troupe expressed aspects of their culture with passion and grace.

The young ladies of this Kalinago dance troupe expressed aspects of their culture with passion and grace.

As we walked along the ancient ocean-side ‘Carib trace’, we then entered the communal Karbet, which means ‘meeting place’.  We sat down in front of a small stage. There, the Young Kalinago Dancers entertained us with   graceful movements and strong rhythmic drumming which represented

The methodical drumming accompanied the dancers with precision and energy.

The methodical drumming accompanied the dancers with precision and energy.

traditional stories of the spirit  and animal world as well as  practices such as harvesting and  cassava bread-making .

I did have an opportunity to sample some delicious cassava bread after the performance.  In fact, I bought a large loaf and devoured the whole thing very quickly! Its slightly sweet grainy taste really appealed to me.

This is the wood-fired oven where the cassava bread was baked.

This is the wood-fired oven where the cassava bread was baked (on top).

I did not take a photo while I was eating, but  you will gain an appreciation of how this starchy root vegetable is processed into a nutritious baked good by reading more about Kalinago cuisine here.

There are many magnificent coastal views in the Kalinago Territory.  It is possible to experience numerous wonderful vistas while hiking Segment 6 of the Waitukubuli National Trail.

There are many magnificent coastal views in the Kalinago Territory. It is possible to experience numerous wonderful vistas while hiking Segment 6 of the Waitukubuli National Trail.

We appreciated the magnificent coastal views as we continued along on the  ancient track.  Then the mystical  Isulukati    Falls at the mouth of the Crayfish River took our collective breath away as we watched its rushing waters merge with the rolling Atlantic surf a short distance away.  I was particularly intrigued by a traditional cleansing ritual of these indigenous people.  Our guides told us that on the first Friday of every month, some residents stand in the ‘Mermaid ‘Pool below the waterfall, and face the ocean, thereby washing away any bad ‘karma’ that may have come into a person’s life.  I wished that I could take part!

The Isulukati Waterfalls at Kalinago Barana Aute  are said to have mythical and magical powers.

The Isulukati Waterfall at Kalinago Barana Aute is said to have mythical and magical powers.

A short while later, we came upon some fascinating carvings, which were created to honour some of the past chiefs of the Kalinago Territory.  Their faces adorn this skilled handiwork!

I was very drawn to these outstanding carvings of past Kalinago chiefs.

I was very drawn to these outstanding carvings of  faces of past Kalinago chiefs.

At the conclusion of this detailed and informative tour, I  sincerely thanked Kalinago guides Ms. Frances and Ms. Paris for enthusiastically providing so much background about their culture.  I admired and respected their earnest desire to share the history of their people. The energetic performance of the young dancers and drummers was equally impressive.

Before I left the grounds of the Kalinago Barana Aute, I expressed appreciation for the excellent tour to Manager Kevin Dangleben.  I was delighted to better understand the history and traditions of Dominica’s indigenous people.

I strongly encourage  residents and visitors to spend some time at this extremely important interpretive site on Dominica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

En Route to a Healing Weekend on the East Coast of Dominica

As I recovered from chikungunya and reflected on the loss of my little  cat, Tia, I felt that a weekend away from my home might be a boost to body, mind and soul.  It had been a long time (six years!) since I ventured over to the central east coast of Dominica and I could not wait a moment longer.  When Mark Steele, proprietor of Beau Rive, a lovely boutique hotel near Castle Bruce replied to my query about  room availability with an affirmative,  I unhesitatingly booked it right away. I had stayed there a few times in previous years, so I already knew that I would highly enjoy my short stay there.

I headed out on a showery Saturday morning with some trepidation.  I knew that I would meet more rain as I passed through the  mountainous interior of the island and I was

The Emerald Pool is located in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Emerald Pool is located in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

anxious about road and weather conditions.  But the little voice in my head urged me on. While it was little scary and almost as dark as night  at midday when I passed in the shadow of majestic  Morne Trois Pitons, I took my time and carefully maneuvered around occasional potholes.

There was hardly any traffic on the road and  45 minutes after my departure , I arrived at the Emerald Pool Eco-Site.  By then, it was pouring, but I felt in need of a little outdoor ‘refreshment’.  Besides, it was  an easy walk  on a well-maintained track to this famous waterfall and I  carried my umbrella.

The track to the Emerald Pool passes through verdant rainforest in Dominica's interior.

The track to the Emerald Pool passes through verdant rainforest in Dominica’s interior.

Although my joints reminded me that  I was not ready for any big hike, I strode carefully and sometimes gingerly through the dripping rainforest to check out this popular cascade. I kept my head down as I sheltered under my umbrella.  After a few minutes, I heard the distinctive roar of a powerful torrent of water.

The Emerald Pool is magical, even from a distance.

The Emerald Pool is magical, even from a distance.

The Emerald Pool is so-named for the green hues reflected in the pool.  Although it was a gray day, she looked as pretty as always!

The Emerald Pool is so-named for the green hues reflected in the pool. Although it was a gray day, she looked as pretty as always!

Within 10 minutes, I glimpsed the beauty of the small but enchanting Emerald Pool.  Although the rain persisted, I felt invigorated in the fresh, pure mountain air.  And there was not a soul in sight!  It was the perfect day to take in this little gem of the Nature Island.  During the cruise ship season, this eco-site is a frequented attraction.  Over the years. I have only been here once with a crowd – and numerous other times on my own, with my brother, a few friends or a handful of visitors.  In those days-gone-by, I would even take a dip in the refreshing waters – but not today!  I’ve long acclimatised to the tropical climate and as a result, Dominica’s mountainous interior is too cold for me, unless I am on the move!

As I approached a view-point close to the waterfall, I was thankful for a handrail and constructed steps.  Normally, I would not have given rough terrain a second thought, but living with the arthritic after-effects of chikungunya has given me greater respect for accessibility issues. I did have my hiking pole with me as usual, which gave me extra support with occasional balance challenges (vertigo) since the mosquito-borne virus became part of my life.

By just gazing at the lovely work of nature, all alone in the rainforest and listening to its persistent, but gentle roar, I felt just “that much” better than I had the day before.  As I hobbled towards the exit from the site, I took the time to  look in an easterly direction towards the

The  easterly view from the Emerald Pool trail is breathtaking - no matter what the weather!

The easterly view from the Emerald Pool trail is breathtaking – no matter what the weather!

Atlantic where I was heading.  It seemed to me, that despite the pouring rain in my location, it was clearing on the coast.

I arrived in the parking lot a few minutes later and could feel hunger pangs returning that had been absent during my illness.   I was ahead of check-in time at Beau Rive so I decided to revisit an old favorite haunt for lunch, which overlooks the Castle Bruce Bay.  In only 15 minutes, I was there –  at Islet View Restaurant where proprietor and chef  ‘Rudy’, a Dominican-Canadian was in the house.

I’ve always enjoyed his home-cooked meals in the past, and this time was no different.

The exterior of Islet View is rustic and homey and the meals inside are unforgettable!

The exterior of Islet View is rustic and homey and the`home-cooked meals inside are unforgettable!

After reacquainting and reminding him of our Canadian connection, Rudy went in to the kitchen to prepare a fish lunch that would sustain me until dinner later at Beau Rive. I enjoyed sipping on sweetsop juice – not commonly served in restaurants and I really appreciated this treat.

My sweetsop juice was served in this colourful container - a hibiscus blossom in a coconut shell!

My sweetsop juice was served in this colourful container – a hibiscus blossom in a coconut shell!

 

The islets in Castle Bruce Bay easily captivate one`s attention.

The islets in Castle Bruce Bay easily captivate one`s attention.

The lovely view of the islets, the quaint village of Castle Bruce and its bay and beach distracted me from what ailed me. I was

The serene scene at Castle Bruce looks very inviting!

The serene scene at Castle Bruce looks very inviting!

quite amazed at how easily my spirits soared with such inspiring natural beauty before me.  Before much time had passed,

My lunch at islet View Restaurant: Mahi-mahi (aka dolphin - but not the Flipper variety!), provsions (sweet potatoes, green bananas, plantains, rice, lentils, salad.  It would be hard to go hungry on the Nature Island!

My lunch at Islet View Restaurant near Castle Bruce: Mahi-mahi (aka dolphin – but not the Flipper variety!), provisions (sweet potatoes, green bananas, plantains, dasheen) rice, lentils,cooked cabbage, salad fixings. It would be hard to go hungry if Rudy`s cooking!

Rudy appeared with a gigantic plate of food that caused me to worry and wonder (for a moment): `How will I eat dinner later!`

I did pretty well by all accounts – but I had to leave some on my plate.  It was impossible to eat it all as I had not been able to consume any large meals during my illness.  I was encouraged by the return of my appetite!

One of Rudy`s homemade `medicinal rums`is named after the current Prime Minister of Dominica.  It contains an herb called `long leaf`, which supports a `long life`!

One of Rudy`s homemade `medicinal rums`is named after the current Prime Minister of Dominica. It contains a herb called `long leaf`, which supports a `long life`!

Dessert was declined this

I don`t know where I put it, but I managed to find room for fresh fruit: watermelon; mango; and sugar cane.

I don`t know where I put it, but I managed to find room for fresh fruit: watermelon; mango; and sugar cane.

time, but I did have a chance to ask Rudy about his extensive `bush rum`collection. This simply means that various local herbs, purported to have medicinal properties for various ailments are `steeped`in a potent cask rum so that the ingredients are infused in the alcohol.  I was quite amazed by his knowledge of the various remedies“ that could be imbibed for longevity, virility and vitality, just to name a few common health concerns.  I was his first `case`of chikungunya.  Alcohol was out of the question, but he did take me to the roadside where he pulled out some lemon grass and advised me to steep it in hot water and then drink it as a `tea`.

Rudy is very knowledgeable about local herbs and probably has a bush rum to cure whatever ails you!!

Rudy is very knowledgeable about local herbs and probably has a bush rum to cure whatever ails you!!

As typical Canadians, we discussed a range of topics, including the weather but NOT Rob Ford, Toronto`s infamous mayor (sorry! 😉 ).  When I glanced at my watch, I saw that it was already almost 3 p.m.. Time to check in at Beau Rive and take a nap before dinner!

I wished Rudy a safe visit up north and promised to return for another wholesome meal when we both were back on-island!

My healing weekend was off to a great start, and I`d only been on the east coast for a few hours.  There was much more goodness to come!

 

 

 

 

Three Saturdays in May: Dominica’s Hike Fest 2013 – Part 2

Yes, I did it!  Gwendominica points to the Boiling Lake behind (and below) her.  Photo taken by Liz Madisetti.

Yes, I did it! Gwendominica points to the Boiling Lake behind (and below) her. Photo taken by Liz Madisetti.

My successful foray to Dominica’s famous Boiling Lake as part of Hike Fest 2013 was a dream come true! On Saturday May 11th, 45 willing and

By the Titou Gorge, Gwendominica was really 'psyched to start the long and challenging  hike to the Boiling Lake.  Photo taken by Liz Madisettit.

By the Titou Gorge, Gwendominica was really ‘psyched’ to start the long and challenging hike to the Boiling Lake. Photo taken by Liz Madisetti.

enthusiastic hikers gathered at the trail-head by the  Titou Gorge near the village of Laudat in Dominica’s interior.  While quite a number of the assembled intrepids had previously experienced this challenging and difficult hike, a number of us had never done it – including me!

One of the added perks of Hike Fest is the easy ability to meet people from all over the world, most of whom are resident in Dominica.  The cultural diversity adds to the richness of the adventure!

One of the added perks of Hike Fest is the easy ability to meet people, including Dominicans and others from all over the world, most of whom are resident in Dominica. The cultural diversity adds to the richness of the adventure!

Hike Fest's Boiling Lake organizer Simon Walsh gave us a rousing pep talk, after which there was no doubt in my mind that I could do it!

Hike Fest‘s Boiling Lake organizer Simon Walsh gave us a rousing pep talk, after which there was no doubt in my mind that I could do it!

Once again this May, the weather gods cooperated and we started up the trail under partly cloudy skies, refreshing breezes and shady trees in the rainforest.  We were also at a relatively high elevation (about 2,000 feet to start) so we had the benefit of a cooler temperature than that of the sea-coast.

Jennifer, a sign-language interpreter for hearing impaired students at Ross University bubbled with energy and enthusiasm on the enture trek!

Jennifer, a sign-language interpreter for hearing impaired students at Ross University bubbled with energy and enthusiasm on the entire trek!

The more-or-less gentle ‘walk’ up and down to the Breakfast River (so-called because hikers would restore themselves here before the

The start of the Boiling Lake trail is a gradual climb and then a gentle descent to the Breakfast River.

The start of the Boiling Lake trail is a gradual climb and then a gentle descent to the Breakfast River.

long uphill to the look-off on Morne Nicholls) took about an hour.  The going was relatively smooth – some might dare to say monotonous, but I felt it was the perfect warm-up for the grueling trek ahead of us.  We were accompanied by the melodious trill of the Mountain Whistler (Siffleur Montagne), which to me is always a sign that I am in the rainforest.  As usual, my ‘pod’ of  the more-or-less 50 plus club and some novices (on this trail) tagged along at the tail-end of the group.  We didn’t mind because we concentrated as much on getting to know each other as on where to place our feet.  The ‘youngsters’ in our crowd were all affiliated with Ross University Medical School – not as students but as staff!  They were bubbling over with good cheer and energy.  I think their collective pleasant demeanor helped to sustain me for the whole trip.  What a lovely group of young(er) women!

Cynthia of HHV Whitchurch Tours is an amazing guide.  She is a great coach too!

Cynthia of HHV Whitchurch Tours is an amazing guide. She is a great coach too!

The Boiling Lake Trail would take us well into the interior of Dominica and its renowned

The Boiling Lake is located in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Boiling Lake is located in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997 and the first of its kind in the Eastern Caribbean. This particular trek is world-famous, in terms of  hiking enthusiasts and adventure seekers. It is also a notable thing-to-do when visiting the Nature Island.  Its presence was first announced to the world in the late 1800’s by two British men, after whom two mountains in close proximity along the route are named: Nicholls and Watt.  Shortly thereafter, a formal track was cut out of the varied terrain and thousands of people have been over it ever since.  Another similar ‘cauldron’ of geothermal activity exists in New Zealand, which is officially said to be slightly larger and unofficially declared much less dramatic than Dominica’s own!

When we reached the Breakfast River after one hour, the crossing was a little tricky.

Crossing the Breakfast River, after about an hour on the trail.  This is often where hikers have a break and snack before the long and steep ascent up Morne Nicholls.

Crossing the Breakfast River, after about an hour on the trail. This is often where hikers have a break and snack before the long and steep ascent up Morne Nicholls.

Even with help, I managed to get one boot sopping wet.  Oh well, that is part of the experience.  A dry pair of socks would wait until that ultimate destination  a few hours further on.  We did not stop here for a snack.  It seems that the group was focused on the next intense uphill slog to the look-off at the top of Morne Nicholls. The trail was well-groomed and easy to manage in this area, except for the occasional too high step for my too short legs.  I was thankful for my hiking pole and the occasional boost from behind!  The

At the look-off on Morne Nicholls, Morne Anglais features prominently in the southwestern.  distance, l think Morne John is the lower peak in front of it.

At the look-off on Morne Nicholls, Morne Anglais features prominently in the southwest. l think Morne John (r) is the lower peak in front of it.

Morne Watt, at just over 4,000 feet, was directly south of our vantage point on Morne Nicholls.

Morne Watt, at just over 4,000 feet, was directly south of our vantage point on Morne Nicholls.

The village of Laudat (l) is not far from the trail-head.  majestic Morne Micotrin (r) is shrouded in cloud!

The village of Laudat (l) is not far from the trail-head. Majestic Morne Micotrin (r) is shrouded in cloud!

steep ascent  to the highest point of the day’s  foray (3,200 feet)was well  worth it once at the pinnacle.  The circumferential views were spectacular!

After this breathtaking/restorative (!) pause, we were off again – this time down-down-down en route to the Valley of Desolation.  There were a few little teasers along the way – not far

As we commenced the long descent to the Valley of Desolation, we could see the steam rising from the Boiling Lake in the distance.

As we commenced the long descent to the Valley of Desolation, we could see the steam rising from the Boiling Lake in the distance.

from the look-off.  The steam rising from Boiling Lake in the distance looked so near – and yet it was still  so far – another couple of hours at least!

I really wondered about my capabilities on this section of the trail.  Some of the hand-made steps had been washed away in a recent torrential rainfall. The gradient in the area was practically precipitous and the slick mud reminded me of walking on ice.  Sometimes I hoisted myself over and around treacherous spots with my arms supporting the rest of my body weight.  What a work-out!

In order to take in the breathtaking scenery, it wa necessary to stop and then look.  Otherwise, one cuold easily slip on the tricky downward track.

In order to take in the breathtaking scenery, it was necessary to stop and then look. Otherwise, one could easily slip on the tricky downward track.

I mumbled aloud: “I got down this thing, but how am I going to get back up?”  “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!” seemed to be the resounding reply that I received from more than one experienced trekker.

Then, all of a sudden, we arrived on more or less even ground in the most unusual landscape  I have ever seen.  It was hard to believe that I was looking at and situated in the renowned Valley of Desolation.  I felt as if I had stumbled upon another planet.  I

The first glimpse of the Valley of Desolation was spellbinding. It would still take teh better part of an hour to reach it!

The first glimpse of the Valley of Desolation was spellbinding. It took the better part of an hour to descend to it from the summit of Morne Nicholls!

As I walked through the Valley of Desolation, I admired God's handiwork.

As I walked through the Valley of Desolation, I admired God’s handiwork.

can’t really put words to it- so I will let the pictures do the talking.  I can only say if your spirit is willing, you’ve just got to see this exceptional place!

Liz, a member of the 50+ club (!) knows this trail well.  She has now seen the Boiling Lake 17 (!) times since 1993.

Liz, a member of the 50+ club (!) knows this trail well. She has seen the Boiling Lake 17  times since 1993. Now that’s impressive!

As we walked through it, with less than an hour to the Boiling Lake, we marveled at the seemingly extra-terrestrial appearance of the landscape while inhaling heavy sulphur-laden air.

A few people took advantage of a natural facial from Guide Cynthia. The sulphuric mud is reputed to be filled with many healthful minerals.

Cynthia takes a little time out to give herself and a few others a natural beauty treatment - a mud face mask which contains healthy nutrients for the skin that are found in the Valley of Desolation.

Cynthia takes a little time out to give herself and a few others a natural beauty treatment – a mud face mask which has healthy nutrients for the skin that are found in the Valley of Desolation.

At 14, Andrew was the youngest hiker on the trail.  He got to the Boiling Lake in 1 hour, 50 minutes, stayed there for 40 minutes and returned to the start in one hour, 15 minutes.  Isn't that fantastic!!!

At 14, Andrew was the youngest hiker on the trail. He got to the Boiling Lake in 1 hour, 50 minutes, stayed there for 40 minutes and returned to the start in one hour, 45 minutes. Isn’t that fantastic!!!

At this point, there was another wondrous sight to behold: the faster hikers in the group were passing us on their return from the Boiling Lake!  I marvelled at their prowess, particularly that of young Andrew.  He has been hiking since he was a little tot.    I would only wish that more  youths would experience the buzz of a day in nature, even if they aren’t as agile as Andrew!

As we passed though the Valley of Desolation, we followed along a little river and crossed over it here and there.  I stuck my hand in it a few

We found this boiling hot pool in the Valley of Desolation.  I am sure one could cook an egg in it very quickly, if you had a long spoon to remove it!

We found this boiling hot pool in the Valley of Desolation. I am sure one could cook an egg in it very quickly, if you had a long spoon to remove it!

times and was amazed at the diverse temperatures: boiling,  hot, warm,cool, cold and everything in between!

By now we encountered more returnees, who assured us that we were almost there. There were high-fives from everyone we met and the excitement quickly mounted. At last, we were there!!! Although we were in the slower ‘pod’, we congratulated ourselves for our timing – just a little under four hours.

Niya, an instructor at Ross University is triumphant at having finally made it to the Boiling Lake!

Naila, an instructor at Ross University is triumphant at having finally made it to the Boiling Lake!

And what a sight to behold!  Steep cliffs of 60 – 100 feet surrounded the steaming cauldron on all four sides.  Low clouds often shrouded the entire lake and distant views. Occasionally, a glimpse into its depths revealed  massive roiling bubbles which surged for a few moments and then as quickly subsided. Talk about mesmerizing!

Sulpherous smelling steam rises from the Boliling Lake about 60 - 100 feet below.

Sulphurous smelling steam rises from the Boiling Lake  below.  Steep cliffs of 60 – 100′ in depth surround it.

Looking down at the roiling Boiling Lake inspires awe and fear.

Looking down at the roiling Boiling Lake inspires awe, fear and great respect for our Father’s world.

Ibrahim (aka the Sign Man) takes a break at the Boiling Lake.  He is one of Dominica's most accomplished hikers.  We were grateful for his guidance and his strength in a few tricky spots.

Ibrahim (aka the Sign Man) takes a break at the Boiling Lake. He is one of Dominica’s most accomplished hikers. We were grateful for his guidance and extra strength in tricky spots.

For a short while, we lunched and laughed and lingered a safe distance from the steep cliffs where potential danger lurked below.  As  most of the group had by now moved off, it was Ibrahim (aka the Sign Man), one of Dominica’s most seasoned hikers and guides who urged us not to tarry.  We had to do the trail in reverse, after all!

A southeasterly view to the Atlantic Ocean and the Delices area.  Steam from the Boiling Lake can sometimes be seen from a certain point on the Petite Savanne Road approaching Delices.

A southeasterly view to the Atlantic Ocean and the Delices area. Steam from the Boiling Lake can sometimes be seen from a certain point on the Petite Savanne Road approaching Delices.

The waters around the Boiling Lake are milky-white in apperance due to high mineral content.  The White River near Delices is aptly named because of this.

The waters around the Boiling Lake are milky-white in appearance due to high mineral content. The White River near Delices in the southeast is aptly named because of this.

By now, we all admitted that legs were feeling a bit wobbly and it was definitely “mind over matter,” as I heard Ibrahim say more than once.

Sometimes people take a little break under this lovely little waterfall on the return to Valley of Desolation.  I think Simon spent a little time there, but he was well ahead of us!

Sometimes people take a little break under this lovely little waterfall on the return to Valley of Desolation. I think Simon spent a little time there, but he was well ahead of us!

Fatigued as we were, there was no stopping us now!  As we carefully retraced our steps, we only regretted that there was not time to refresh in a pretty little waterfall pool on the approach to the Valley of Desolation. I concentrated really hard so that my short little legs would not fail me.  From time to time, Naila, a physician by training, kindly gave me a hand or suggested where I should place my feet.  Every bit helped!

The uphill return to the look-off on Morne Nicholls was no easier than the downhill from it.

The uphill return to the look-off on Morne Nicholls was no easier than the downhill from it. Photo taken by Liz Madisetti.

Once we were through the Valley of Desolation, the most daunting section confronted us: what seemed extremely challenging coming down Morne Nicholls must now be done in reverse.  It reminded me of what it would be like to scale a cliff (well, I guess I was! ).  Slowly and carefully I took a big breath and oomphed (for extra energy), crawled, clung and clamoured over and around slippery, steep steps,big stones and little streams.

When I looked back at the steam rising from the Boiling Lake on the outbound journey, I knew at once that I was captivated by its mystery.  I hope to return to it again!

When I looked back at the steam rising from the Boiling Lake on the outbound journey, I knew at once that I was captivated by its mystery. I hope to return to it again!

Our chatter was more subdued here as a light rain began to fall.  In no time (well, an hour or so), we were back at the summit!

From there, the collective focus was on the trails end and a hot meal at the new kiosk at Titou Gorge.  Weary, but relaxed and happy, we chattered away to each other, occasionally broke into song and frequently ‘whooped’ and awaited return ‘whoops’ from those who were further behind us.

The last  hour beyond the Breakfast River seemed endless, but that Mountain Whistler trilled us along and then we were back at the Titou Gorge trail head exactly seven and one half hours later.  Did I squeal with glee!  I gobbled down a delicious chicken lunch and then carefully hopped on the bus with many other weary and sore but satisfied souls.  Now that I’ve finally done it, I have just have to go back there again.  You should too!

But first, there are some more things in Hike Fest to do.  Be sure to check it out!

* Special thanks to phenomenal coaches and guides Liz, Simon, Cynthia, Ibrahim and Naila.  You definitely helped to make my long-awaited Boiling Lake hike so worthwhile!

References:

Dominica: Isle of Adventure by Lennox Honychurch. London: MacMillan, 1998.

Hike Dominica by the Discover Dominica Authority (with the support of the European Commission). Trinidad and Tobago: Zenith Printing Services, [no date]

Ti Domnik Tales is One Year Old!: the top 12 posts of the past 12 months

Gwendominica is abundantly thankful to her readers and supporters of Ti Domnik Tales.  Photo taken by Laasting Images Photo Studio, Roseau Dominica on Creole Day, October 26, 2012.

Gwendominica is abundantly thankful to her readers and supporters of Ti Domnik Tales. Photo taken by Lasting Images Photo Studio, Roseau Dominica on Creole Day, October 26, 2012.

March marks the first anniversary of my blog about Dominica, called Ti Domnik Tales. Coincidentally, this month also means that I am beginning the 16th year that I have lived on the Nature Isle. I am delighted to have published 50 posts and to have received more than 10,000 visits during the first year of this blog’s existence.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has referred to this website for information, curiosity or interest in some of my published experiences about Dominica. I am especially grateful to author Susan Toy for her encouragement, as well as website designers Carrie Mumford and Wendy Walsh for their technical assistance in getting the blog “up and running.”  My loyal family and friends, as well as faithful “followers” and those who “like” me make this literary experience even more rewarding and gratifying.

I will definitely “keep ’em coming,” with an aim for  a total of 100 posts over the next year.

Thanks again for checking into some of  the places, adventures and personalities that have enriched my life on the Nature Isle! I hope you will continue to enjoy Ti Domnik Tales.

Apart from a heavily consulted archives, here are the top twelve posts of the past year:

1. Spending a Spa Day at Papillote Wilderness Retreat

2. Dominica’s Antony Agar : Australian Ringer, Caribbean Sea-Captain, Schooner Builder, Author

3. Dominica’s Hike Fest: It’s “the best!”

4. Dominica’s Carnival Celebrations: Original, Traditional, Fun!

5. The Voice of Ti Domnik Tales

6. Roseau Dominica: Charming Caribbean Capital: Part 1

7. A Morning on Mero Beach

8. ‘Ma Pampo’ and the Centenarians of Dominica

9. Roseau Dominica: Charming Caribbean Capital; Part 2

10. Celebrating ‘Canada Day’ in Dominica with Yoga, Friends and Snakes!

11. Colour, Tradition and Spectacle: Dominica’s Carnival Monday ‘Ole Mas’ and Youth Parade 2013

12. The Voice of Ti Domnik Tales

If you have a moment and/or a thought to spare: PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT TI DOMNIK TALES. 

Thanks for your interest in Ti Domnik Tales!

Thanks for your interest in Ti Domnik Tales!

My burning question is:

SHOULD I TURN TI DOMNIK TALES INTO AN E-BOOK AFTER I HAVE REACHED 100 POSTS?

Your input would be most appreciated, dear reader!  Please leave your comment in the reply box below.

Sincerely,

Gwendominica

Winter Solstice on Dominica: Experiencing the Essence of the Nature Island

Even in Dominica, the hype about December 21st and the hubbub of the approaching yule-tide were having less than desired effects on me. Fortunately, I had already decided that that particular Friday was a day to escape to “the country” (that is, away from Roseau, the capital!) if the world hadn’t ended by then.

I headed off to somewhat familiar territory, my destination being the wonderful Papillote Wilderness Retreat at Trafalgar in the Roseau Valley.  I ‘d already booked my massage with physiotherapist Ariane Magloire and was looking forward to soaking in the hot pools after my session with her. As there was no cruise ship in port, I decided to go early and explore the very popular Trafalgar Falls eco-site, which can be very crowded when hundreds of people are on-island for a few hours.

The trail to the viewing platform passes through dense forest that is filled with birdsong.

The trail to the viewing platform passes through dense forest that is filled with birdsong.

It was a beautiful day in paradise and that is no exaggeration! Brilliant sunshine, nary a cloud in sight and slightly cooler temperatures were ideal conditions for my little hike from Papillote up the hill to the twin falls at Trafalgar. As I approached the Visitor Centre, I was completely surprised that there were no visitors or tour buses in sight.  I spoke to the forestry officer and the attendant on duty and informed them of my plan to work my way up to what is called the “mother” fall which is more readily accessible than the “father” fall.  We chatted for a few moments and then I headed off on the well marked  and groomed trail to the viewing platform, about 15 minutes along the route.

So many shades of green on the approach to the "mother" fall at Trafalgar.

So many shades of green on the approach to the “mother” fall at Trafalgar.

A mountain whistler (rufus-throated solitaire) high up in the tree-tops  cheerily accompanied me with its melodious trills. Antillean bull finches and peewees flitted about the lower limbs of the trees, capturing my attention now and then as I paused to look at pretty plants along the path. I marvelled at so many shades of green all about me in the dense forest.  I could sense my breathing becoming deeper and more even as I steadily walked up a gradual incline.  After about 10 minutes, I arrived at the sturdy wooden platform and gasped with delight at the sights before me.

The higher  "father" fall at Trafalgar is more remote and inaccessible

The higher “father” fall at Trafalgar is more remote and inaccessible

To my left, the taller and slimmer “father” fall glistened in the shadowy sunlight.  Its seemingly remote location added to the intrigue.  I did recall a time many years ago when I did actually work my way over treacherous boulders and slippery stones (with the assistance of a guide).  But a landslide changed all that and I was content with the memory of soaking a bruised leg under a man-made bamboo shower of natural hot mineral water.  Now that area is off-limits to visitors.

My only choice was to head  further along the track to the majestic and stately “mother” fall. I was happy to snap shots of the twin cascades from different angles as I followed the trail to the right.  It had been many years since I ventured beyond the platform, mainly because there were always too many people on the trail for my tastes.  Admittedly, I did meet three young men just as I left the viewing point.  They were heading out and now I was completely alone!

DSCF5137

The cascade of the “mother” fall at Trafalgar is powerfully hypnotic!

The “mother” falls’ persistent roar drew me towards her base, over big rocks, a coursing stream of hot water and some huge tree roots. As I was on my own, I decided to stop a bit of a distance away from her as the boulders can be extremely slippery when wet.  I realized that with no-one else around, personal safety was a priority.  I sat on a damp boulder and gazed all around me.  By now, after only 10 minutes beyond the view-point, sweat trickled down my back and my face was wet from the mild exertion. A damp mist from the cascade blew over me and I breathed deeply and slowly for some time.  I stared at the tumbling waters as if in a trance, while recalling its pristine source higher in the mountains in Morne Trois Pitons National Park. 

After a short while, I glanced at my watch and realized that it was time to make my way back to Papillote for my appointment.  As I carefully turned myself around on the over-sized boulder, I cast a backward glance at the “mother.”  Although I had only spent a short time near her torrents, I felt completely invigorated, re-energized and refreshed.  Any stress that I had carried into this spectacular wilderness eco-site had quickly vanished. I was now ready to celebrate the holiday season in the best of spirits!

DSCF5145My few moments of solitude reminded me that nature is indeed a tonic for the mind, body and soul.  I highly recommend it, and urge you to spend a little time in the great outdoors, as well as with family and friends this holiday season –  where-ever you live.  Peace and goodwill to all!

Calling All Sailors: Drop Anchor at Dominica!*

Ships, Yachts, Sailboats and Cruisers drop anchor at Roseau

Ships, Yachts, Sailboats and Cruisers drop anchor at Roseau.

When sailing through the Caribbean, be sure to set your sights on Dominica, the English-speaking island located between Guadeloupe and Martinique.  Nature lovers and adventure seekers would be remiss if they did not drop anchor at Dominica!

Sailors approaching Dominica will easily understand why the Kalinago people called her 'Waitukubuli', which means "Tall is her body."

Sailors approaching Dominica will easily understand why the Kalinago people called her ‘Waitukubuli’, which means “Tall is her body.”

For centuries, Dominica has impressed many sailors with its lush green mountains rising right out of the sea.  When the Kalinago people (Carib Indians) first paddled up here from South America over a thousand years ago, they called her Waitukubuli, which means “tall is her body.” It was on a Sunday during Columbus’s second journey in 1493 that he named the island ‘Dominica’ for the day of his personal ‘discovery’. (Note: He did not set foot on the Nature Island, but it is said that he was in awe of her rugged terrain!)  And some people feel that if the great explorer  were return to the Caribbean today, Dominica would be the only island that would look familiar!

DSCF5167

L’Express des Iles ferry (red and white) frequently drops people from Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia on Dominica!

Within its terrain are four mountains rising above 4,000 feet.  Over 30 waterfalls nd gorges, innumerable rivers (some say one for every day of the year!) and a rainforest considered the finest in the region beckon the seafarer to step ashore and spend some time on this island paradise.  Of course, if diving is your delight, you won’t be disappointed either.  The Nature Island’s amazing underwater terrain ranks among the best in the world.

018

These moorings are close to the Anchorage Hotel, a mile south of Roseau. They can organize your shore, dive and whale watch tours right from their dock!

Once ashore, go to Roseau, the capital city, and visit the Dominica Museum, as well as the Tourist Information Office  They are located on the Bay Front, directly opposite the cruise ship pier.  The museum will give you a very good overview of the country’s history, culture and anthropology through its wonderful exhibits and displays.  As the Tourist Information Office is downstairs, you can get information about various attractions and adventure activities, as well as securing names of certified taxi operators and tour guides.

In order to fully experience the magnificence of Dominica’s rainforest, a visit or two to Morne Trois Pitons National Park near Laudat would be most worthwhile.  In 1997, UNESCO proclaimed this 17,000 acre park as a World Heritage Site because of its biodiversity, natural features and uniqueness within the region.  There are four hiking trails within the park, including the challenging day-long return journey to the world-famous Boiling Lake.  This is the most arduous track, which requires assistance from a certified guide.  At the trail-head to the Boiling Lake, the Titou Gorge offers a refreshing but challenging swim into its interior and a natural hot shower at its mouth.  (You might want to save that for your reward when you finish this challenging hike). The other trails to Middleham Falls, Freshwater Lake and Boeri Lake also give the intrepid sailor plentiful opportunities for a good landlubber workout amidst pristine  wilderness surroundings.

The Freshwater Lake Trail in Morne Trois Pitons National Park has spectacular views of the east coast. Photo by Edwin Whitford.

The Freshwater Lake Trail in Morne Trois Pitons National Park has spectacular views of the east coast. Photo by Edwin Whitford.

If it’s your intention to stay on land for more than a day or so, then you should also experience a segment or two of the recently opened Waitukubuli National Trail (WNT).  One hundred and fifteen miles of track are broken up into 14 segments which traverse the island from Scott’s Head in the south to the Cabrits in the north.  The sections vary in length, difficulty and type of terrain but it is reasonable to estimate a full day of hiking on each segment in most cases.  If you take along a certified trail guide, your wilderness workout will be further enhanced.

Emerald Pool 2

I dare you to take a dip in the cool Emerald Pool in Morne Trois Pitons National Park!

There are many other ways to experience nature at its finest  in Dominica.  The Papillote Wilderness Retreat in Trafalgar features a four-acre tropical garden which has a number of rare plants and some hot and cold mineral pools. Nearby are the stunning twin falls of Trafalgar, which can be  observed from a  sheltered viewing platform. Another easily accessible waterfall is the Emerald Pool, just off the road to Castle Bruce in the island’s interior.  The bountiful shades of green make it a photographer’s delight.  This and the Trafalgar Falls trail  are relatively short and well maintained, but if you don’t care for crowds, it is best to experience them on a day when there are no cruise ships in port.

After spending some time at and perhaps even swimming in the Emerald Pool, you should head in an easterly direction to Castle Bruce and then turn in a northerly direction so that you can visit the Carib Territory.  This area of Dominica is home to about 3,000 Kalinago people who live in eight villages scattered throughout this reserve.  These indigenous people are renowned for their wonderful  hand-woven baskets made from local grasses and they bake a very delicious bread from the root of the cassava plant. In order to further appreciate their history and culture, a stop at Kalinago Barana Aute (Carib Model Village) is a must.  Here, you can take a guided tour, watch traditional dances, observe the making of ancient crafts and carving of traditional dug-out canoes and sample some of that mouth-watering cassava bread! While in the area, you might  like to make another side-trip for an hour or so and take the  L’Escalier Tete Chien trail down to the Atlantic.  This natural stairway to the  ocean is said to resemble a boa constrictor. Ask your guide about the intriguing legend of this area.

The walk down (and then back up) L'Escalier Tete Chien in the Carib Reserve is not for the faint of heart!

The walk down (and then back up) L’Escalier Tete Chien in the Carib Territory is not for the faint of heart!

Prince Rupert's Bay at Portsmouth has numerous moorings.  It is the most popular anchorage in Dominica.

Prince Rupert’s Bay at Portsmouth has numerous secure moorings. It is a popular anchorage in Dominica.

On another day, you can also drop anchor at Portsmouth, or take an hour’s drive up the coast from Roseau to enjoy the interpretive path at Syndicate, located inland from Dublanc in the Northern Forest Reserve.  This one hour loop is popular for parrot watching.  The endangered Sisserou  and the vulnerable Jacquot (Jaco) are endemic to Dominica and thrive in this area. A knowledgeable guide and forestry officer, such as Bertrand (Dr. Birdy) Jno Baptiste (drbirdy2@cwdom.dm)  can tell you more about these and other birds, as well as the flora and fauna around the trail. More intrepid hikers might like to tackle Dominica’s highest peak, Morne Diablotin, as you are in near the trail-head.  You could also pick up the Waitukubuli National Trail Segments 10 and/or 11, which traverse this part of the Nature Island.

If you’d rather sit for a while after all that ‘walking’, you could take a scenic boat-ride up the Indian River, just south of Portsmouth.  Trained guides will row you up the bwa mang tree-lined river (which was featured in Pirates of the Caribbean – but I forget whether it was in # 2 or 3!)), while explaining the local history  and pointing out areas and creatures of interest in this enchanting locale.  The stop at the remote Bush Bar may (or may not!)  be memorable!

For those who choose not to hike up mighty Morne Diablotin, you could spend a restful day having a picnic and admiring it from a distance at Fort Shirley in the Cabrits National Park.  The fort is presently being restored and there are many interpretive signs, displays and well-marked meandering trails on the site.  Segment 14 of the Waitukubuli National Trail, which follows the rocky coastline from Capuchin in the north, also passes through the park and terminates near its entrance.  Then again, you could ride a horse  from a stable just east of Portsmouth and move through the rain forest on a saddle instead of your feet.

If you’d like to spend some down time on a beach, you’ll have plenty of choices.  While there are no five-mile long stretches filled with hundreds of tourists, you’ll find some quiet strips of sand or

Coconut Beach, just south of Portsmouth is a great place to relax and have aswim. The Cabrits National Park (the two humps) can be seen in teh distance. Photo by Edwin Whitford.

Coconut Beach, just south of Portsmouth is a great place to relax and have a swim. The Cabrits National Park (the two humps) can be seen in the distance. Historic Fort Shirley is found there.  Photo by Edwin Whitford.

pebbles all along the west and northeast coasts.  While a secluded cove may seem appealing, I would discourage anyone from venturing too far without a tour guide or taxi driver, just to be on the safe side (as you would anywhere in the world!).

DSCN1676

The Soufriere-Scott’s Head Marine Reserve in the south of the island is a protected site. At Soufriere Bay,Scott’s Head is the promontory in the distance. Photo by Edwin Whitford

Water-sports enthusiasts can partake of their favourite pass-times in Dominica too.  Various companies offer kayaking, tubing, rafting, river hiking, windsurfing, fishing, whale watching, snorkeling, and of course, spectacular scuba diving for which Dominica is famous.  A number of licensed dive operators are located along the west coast of the island.  There are many sites from which to take the plunge, including L’Abym along the southwest coast which descends to 1,500 feet.  Snorkelers will delight in the variety of sea life found on the  abundant, healthy coral reefs.  Champagne Beach in the northern part of the Soufriere-Scott’s Head Marine Reserve is exceptional for rising bubbles composed of volcanic gasses formed beneath the sea.

Dominica is renowned for its nature and adventure, but you would be missing out on a big part of it if you overlooked its unique culture.  Festivities, such as the annual World Creole Music Festival can really attract a huge crowd.  It takes place every October, just before the country’s Independence celebrations and draws thousands from around the world. Carnival season is a perennial favourite from January to March with its pageants, parades, calypso competitions and street jump-ups. On a weekly basis, a number of hotels, bars and clubs offer happy hours and special events. The tourist information office or a hotel can give you more details.

And don’t forget to sample some local fare!  Put your taste buds to the test – try some stuffed bakes, black pudding, souse,  goat-water, crab-backs (in season) or callaloo soup, to name a few.

Only slip-shod sailors would be content to admire Dominica’s topography from a distance.  So drop anchor and experience the sensational Nature Island, Dominica!DSCF5176

*Comprehensive information about Dominica is found on these web sites:  Discover Dominica Authority and A Virtual Dominica.

** This piece was originally published in Caribbean Compass January 2004 and has since been substantially modified.

Discovering Dominica’s Delights*

Northwestern Coastline of Dominica from Coconut Beach on Prince Rupert Bay (Picard area of Portsmouth in the distance, Morne au Diable in background). Photo by Edwin Whitford

When I first sailed along the west coast of Dominica and marveled at its green forests and majestic peaks, I understood how Columbus must have felt when he first glimpsed the island on his second voyage in 1493.  Dominicans proudly exclaim that if this great explorer were to return to the Caribbean today, this country would probably be the only one he would still recognize.

That is because the self-proclaimed “Nature Island,” located between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique is not overly developed.  Hotels are cozy  and intimate, people are friendly and there are no crowded beaches in this English-speaking land.

Above all, visitors will find  unique  natural attractions which can be seen either on a drive around the country or by taking a hike on any number of trails that crisscross the island.  The recently opened Waitukubuli National Trail  is  one-of-a-kind in the Caribbean.  It consists of 14 segments of varying degrees of difficulty and lengths that traverse the island from north to south over a total of 184 kilometers (115 miles).

Freshwater Lake. Photo by Edwin Whitford

Morne Trois Pitons National Park in the island’s interior became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Its unspoiled features will appeal to nature lovers and adventure seekers of all ages and abilities.  Within the park’s boundaries are five major mountains which are almost 5,000 feet high, one of which is named Morne Trois Pitons.  As well, the Boeri and Freshwater Lakes are found at higher elevations, as are some towering waterfalls, the spectacular Valley of Desolation, the second largest Boiling Lake in the world and other geothermal areas.  The Smithsonian Institute has previously described Dominica as “a giant plant laboratory, unchanged for 10,000 years” (Fodor’s Caribbean, 1996).  You will understand why when you see the pristine forests and vegetation, uncommon wildlife and 360 degree breathtaking vistas.

Springfield is now a research centre which is nestled in the mountains on the edge of the rainforest.

It would take many days, perhaps even months (and possibly years!) to discover all of Dominica’s ecological delights.  During my first few years in Dominica, I explored the island by foot and transport from my home base at the serene Springfield Guest House, a former plantation  nestled on the edge of the rainforest.  Right away, I admired the fascinating terrain and gained insights into my adopted country’s culture.

Dominica is known for its underwater sites, as well as the above-ground ones and is know as a diver’s delight.  I do not dive, but I enjoy looking just beneath the surface of the sea.  For a bit of easy snorkeling, I traveled to Scott’s Head, a point of land on the southern coast of the island.  From only a few feet offshore, I floated above dozens of flashy tropical fishes.  As I was on my own in the water and not a deep-sea diver,  I did not venture out to the steep cliff, which drops off along the face of an eroded volcano.

Soufriere Bay, with Scott’s Head in the distance. Photo by Edwin Whitford

The taxi trip there and back along the southwest coast was also awesome. Between Pointe Michel and Champagne Beach, we drove between barren gray cliffs and the calm Caribbean Sea on a very narrow road.  The scenes constantly changed as we journeyed through seemingly mystical forests (where some episodes from Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 were filmed in 2005).

Gwendominica soaking in the large pool at Soufriere Sulphur Springs. Photo by Edwin Whitford

While I was in the southwesterly part of Dominica, I totally relaxed myself by taking a long hot soak in the large mineral pool at the Soufriere Sulphur Springs Eco-Site.  The mild smell was not overwhelming.  I was so relaxed that I fell asleep in the taxi on the way back to Springfield!

Next morning, I awoke refreshed and enthusiastically donned my hiking boots for the lengthy trek to Middleham Falls in Morne Trois Pitons National Park.  It would take about five leisurely hours (round trip) on foot from Springfield via the  Cochrane village route , but I was not in any rush. I was now on island time!

A certified guide told me much about the flora and fauna of the area as we moved deeper into the rainforest.  I saw a cuckoo and the elusive rodent called an agouti.  I also heard the plaintive call of the mountain whistler who hides high in the treetops. Gigantic tropical plants such as palms and ferns shaded the track.

Gwendominica crossing one of the rivulets en route to Middleham Falls. Photo by Edwin Whitford

Although I was in reasonably good shape,  the biggest challenge for me was fording several mountain streams while keeping my boots dry.  A little coaching from my guide and some new-found confidence on my part enabled me to cross the running rivers by hopping from rock to rock.  I was soaked with sweat and weary from exertion when I first glimpsed Middleham Falls.  It literally took my breath away! This powerful cascade plummeted several

Middleham Falls Pool. Photo by Edwin Whitford.

hundred feet into a sparkling pool at its base.  It was a shock to the system to plunge into that seemingly frigid water beneath the falls, but I soon warmed up on the surrounding rocks in the brilliant sunshine. In a short while, I was refreshed enough to begin the return journey.  Since that first expedition, my love affair with hiking in Dominica continues to thrive!

Another day trip took me inland through the Carib Territory where about three thousand Kalinagos live on 3,700 acres of land on the northeast side of the island.  These indigenous people are said to be the last of their kind in the world.  They continue to practise traditional skills such as farming, weaving and the building of ocean-going dug-out canoes for fishing.  (There is now a model village called Kalinago Barana Aute which offers tours, craft demonstrations and traditional performances to the public).  There were also many opportunities to buy beautifully crafted pieces, such as baskets from these friendly folks.

Northeastern coastline from the bottom of L’escalier Tete Chien, Sineku, Carib Territory

On the Atlantic coast, the view was spellbinding from the top of L’escalier Tete Chien (‘The Snake’s Staircase’ – there is a Kalinago legend about this site) at Sineku.  This hardened lava flow looks like a serpent’s head crawling up from the ocean. It looks like a natural staircase down to the sea.  I did not attempt it that day (I have a couple of times since), but I admired others who maneuvered the sometimes slippery steps.

As we headed back to home base, we passed through banana groves, flower gardens and endless panoramas in every direction. The small, winding road blended into the greenery, giving a sense of intimacy with nature.  My reward near the end of the day was a dip in the Emerald Pool, an easy 15 minute walk on a groomed trail from the parking lot.  In the slanting rays of the afternoon sun, the waters did glisten like a jewel.  As there was no one else by the pretty waterfall, I felt as if I had captured a piece of this pristine beauty for myself, at least for a few moments.

Emerald Pool

The Nature Island has many earthly treasures.  Dominica is definitely – and naturally – delightful!

* An earlier version of this article was published in Caribbean Compass, January 1999, page 19.

The adventures described here represent some of my very first impressions of Dominica.  I can assure you that they are definitely lasting! Many of the pictures here were taken on later excursions than the above-described.  My brother’s photos are much appreciated. He’s been to Dominica three times!

If you wish to visit any of the sites or go exploring while visiting Dominica, I strongly urge you to take a certified taxi or hire a qualified guide.  Not only will you be more secure, but you will gain tremendous knowledge and insights about the Nature Island from these informative professionals.