Good Company, Great Food, the Best Music: A Special Sunday Afternoon in Dominica!

Lise and Hans are the owners/managers of the award-winning Champs Hotel, Restaurant & Bar in Picard Dominica.  They first opened their doors in 2008.

Lise and Hans are the owners/managers of the award-winning Champs Hotel, Restaurant & Bar in Picard Dominica. They first opened their doors in 2008.

I had looked forward to enjoying a special outing to The Champs Hotel, Restaurant and Bar in Picard (near Portsmouth) Dominica to DSCF0301partake of their monthly Sunday Live Jazz Lunch for some time.  Part of the appeal was The Champs perfect venue – set high on a hill overlooking  pretty Prince Rupert Bay with the scenic Cabrits National Park and Fort Shirley in the distance and the expansive Ross University Medical School directly below.

Morne Aux Diables is a prominent massif of almost 3000' which is north of De Champs.

Morne Aux Diables is a prominent massif of almost 3000′ which is north of De Champs and towers over the town of Portsmouth (far left).

Prince Rupert Bay and the Cabrits National Park (centre left) feature promoinently from The Champs.  Ross University Medical School Buildings and Housing in Picard are in the foreground.

Lovely Prince Rupert Bay and the Cabrits National Park (centre left)  as seen from The Champs. Ross University Medical School Buildings and Housing in Picard are in the foreground.

Michele's back-up band consists of  very fine musicians.  Her husband' Junior' is on the  front right of the photo.

Michele’s back-up band consists of  the finest  Dominican musicians. Her husband’ Junior’ Delsol (right) is on the bass guitar.

The  afternoon’s exceptional entertainment would be provided by none other than  acclaimed  singing sensation Dominican chanteuse Michele Henderson and her Band.  And of course, the food! A delectable dinner menu was being prepared by American chef Eric Subin, who has definitely  made a name for himself on Dominica.

Chef Eric Subin  concentrates while his  cheerful assistants await his instructions. preparing the delcious menu selections for De Champs' Sunday Live Jazz Lunch.

Chef Eric Subin concentrates while his cheerful assistants await his instructions as they prepare the creative menu selections for De Champs’ Sunday Live Jazz Lunch.

My Canadian friend Nancy offered to drive, so I was able to put my feet up and enjoy the seaside sights on the hour plus drive up the west coast from Roseau to Picard.  I had not been at The Champs for over a year, and I was excited to renew old acquaintances, revisit a lovely property and partake of some of the best food and music that Dominica has to offer!

When we arrived around 12:30 p.m., we were cheerily welcomed by Hans & Lise and directed to our table for two with a lush coconut palm tree-lined southerly view of the Picard area  and the sparkling Caribbean Sea beyond it.  As we sipped refreshments and perused the menu, Michele (pronounced Mi-kel) came over to say ‘hello’ and hugged me warmly.  Although she was due to start her show at 1 p.m., we had a few moments to catch up on news and have a chuckle or two.  Her spontaneous outburst of merriment was prompted when I produced a photo of her with me and Marilyn Smith as the singers in the Beau Bois Ensemble back in 2003!  We reminisced and I gave her recent greetings from Marilyn, who now lives in Canada.

The Beau Bois Ensemble in April 2003, just before Marilyn returned to Canada.  Those were the days.  We had a great time, that's for sure!

The Beau Bois Ensemble in April 2003, just before Marilyn returned to Canada. Those were the days. We had a great time, that’s for sure!

As well, I asked the Dominican singer about her latest international and local performances.  Delightedly, she informed me that she was received extremely well at the recently opened Crescendo Jazz Lounge in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia by large crowds  for three nights in a row.  In Virgin Gorda (British Virgin Islands), she and the Band headlined an event called “Jazz on the Hill’ to great reviews.  Her feature at Dominica’s annual Jazz ‘n Creole pleased the huge audience tremendously.  Then she mentioned that she would be traveling to Sydney Australia  in the near future to participate in a church event to raise funds for some social programs.  As usual, she left me nothing short of impressed and she hadn’t even started to sing yet!

All of a sudden, it was 1 p.m.: time for Michele to start the show and for Nancy and me to make our lunch selections from the detailed menu.  Our helpful server answered our questions about ingredients and dietary concerns. Nancy chose the tuna dish and I opted for a vegetarian Indian specialty.  While we waited for the meals, we listened pleasurably to Michele on flute as she warmed up the diners for the afternoon’s  entertainment.  Her superb musicality was clearly evident in a funky Chick Corea rendition that had me tapping the

Michele is an accomplished trained flautist, as well as a superb soprano vocalist.

Michele is an accomplished trained flautist, as well as a superb  and versatile soprano vocalist.

table to the beat.

Nancy delights in the visual presentation of her main course: Sesame-Seared Tuna wiht Sweet Soy Glaze, Wasabi, Jasmine Rice and Temoura Onion.  She thoroughly enjoyed it too!

Nancy delighted in the visual presentation of her main course: Sesame-Seared Tuna with Sweet Soy Glaze, Wasabi, Jasmine Rice and Tempura Onion. She thoroughly enjoyed it!

Then our lunches arrived.

I was amzed a teh generous serving of Chana Masala with Mango-Apple Salad and Jasmine Rice. I really savoured all the Indian inspired flavours!

I was amazed at the generous serving of Chana Masala with Mango-Apple Salad and Jasmine Rice. I really savoured all the Indian inspired flavours!

We gazed at them open-mouthed: yes, we were hungry and the huge plates were filled up with our appealing orders.

By now, the room was packed.  Large contingents of faculty and students from Ross University Medical School were seated at long tables. Other Dominicans and expatriates filled all the remaining available space.  I was thankful that I had made a reservation, as I could see that late-comers could be disappointed or at least have to wait for a while to eat!

Lise and Hans take a little break while the rest of us take to the dance floor.  Sarah (centre) is a well-known restauranteur and food services consultant.

Hosts Lise and Hans took a little break while the rest of us took to the dance floor. Sarah (centre) is a well-known local restauranteur and food services consultant.

Michele doesn't just sing a song: she puts her heart and soul into it too!

Michele doesn’t just sing a song: she puts her heart and soul into it too!

We tried our best to finish everything on our plates.  I felt badly about leaving a bit – but I had already enjoyed some smooth and mildly piquant hummus with pita bread as an appetizer, for which Chef Eric is famous.  And there was no way I was going to pass up dessert.  While we let our dinners digest, we leaned back in our chairs to take in the mellow sounds emanating from the front of the room.  I was touched that Michele publicly acknowledged me from our earlier singing days. Then she belted out many well-known classical and contemporary jazz and jazzed-up favourites:  ‘Favourite Things’ (Sound of Music); ‘Livin’ my Life Like It’s Golden’; ‘Give Me One Reason to Stay Here’;’The Beat Goes On’ (her own composition at my request!); some popular reggae  tunes and many more over two enjoyable hours.

Michele's brilliant and expressive voice always please her audiences, whether she performs in a small room, a large stadium or on a concert stage! her husband Junior is on the bass guitar.

Michele’s brilliant and expressive voice always pleases her audiences, whether she performs in a small intimate room, a large outdoor stadium or on an international concert stage! Her husband Junior Delsol is on the bass guitar.

After that substantial meal, I knew what I wanted  to satisfy my sweet tooth with only the slightest glance at the menu.  I have previously tasted Chef Eric’s chocolate concoctions elsewhere so it is no surprise that the ‘dark chocolate cake’ was my choice.  It was only one mouthful before I exclaimed to Nancy that it was the BEST CAKE EVER!  It’s a good thing that I live a distance from Portsmouth or I might be found sneaking daily into the kitchen to ask for possible leftover slices!

However, I did savour it slowly, and endeavored to work off a few calories by hitting the dance floor with some of the ladies from Ross University. Wow!  Can they move it!  I also met

After my divine dessert (Dark Chocolate Almond Truffle Tart with Coconut-Cashew Crust), I had to work it off to the cool beats of Michele and her Band!

After my divine dessert (Dark Chocolate Almond Truffle Tart with Coconut-Cashew Crust), I had to work it off to the cool beats of Michele and her Band! Orla has her back to camera.  She was definitely groovin’ to the tunes!

up with Orla, a faculty member who had me laughing and singing on the trails during Hike Fest.  It was great to see her again – although at first we didn’t recognize each other without t-shirts, caps and boots!

Just after 3 p.m., the music wound down and we reluctantly dragged ourselves off of the dance floor.  I still had some cake to finish and then it was time to go!

It is such a pleasure and honour to know Michele Henderson. It's also a thrill to watch her career grow locally, regionally and internationally.  I wish her continued and endless success!

It is such a pleasure and honour to know Michele Henderson. It’s also a thrill to watch her career grow locally, regionally and internationally. I wish her continued and endless success!

It was such a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Chef Eric’s culinary creations, Michele’s magical musicianship, the warm hospitality of Hans and Lise and the fantastic atmosphere at The Champs  guarantee that I will return for Sunday Live Jazz Lunch again very soon!

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A Feast for My Mind: Indulging in Dominica’s Nature Island Literary Festival and Book Fair

Whenever I am in Dominica for the summer, I  look forward to attending the Nature Island Literary Festival (NILF)   which is held at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus. It offers an extensive menu of local, regional and international books, talks, panel discussions and readings by renowned West Indian authors and poets.  As well, several workshops  are devoted to  expert guidance and instruction on techniques and tips on the craft of writing from the’ pros’.  There are many excellent offerings on the program and I  always come away from the 3-day event with fresh ideas and renewed inspiration as a writer and reading enthusiast. And best of all, it’s FREE!

My overview of NILF‘s program in 2010 is found here.

This year  (2012)marked the 5th anniversary of the event, and I was delighted to be on-island to partake of some of its tempting and intriguing selections.

Dr. Shuyler Esprit guides the class through the structural components of a NY Times Book Review of ‘Autobiography of My Mother’ by Jamaica Kincaid. This book is actually set in Dominica.

As a journalist, I benefited tremendously from two  workshops that I selected out of several others that were offered before and during the Literary Festival.  My first option was a three session pre-festival course on ‘Reviewing the Creative Arts’.  It was facilitated by Dr. Shuyler Esprit, a Dominican woman who is an Assistant Professor of English at Trinity Washington University in D.C., USA.  Over six hours, she skillfully guided us through the techniques,analytical tactics and structural outlines that are necessary for creating suitable arts reviews targeted at specific audiences.

Professor Elizabeth Nunez, renowned bestselling novelist dramatically emphasizes a point during her  Fiction Workshop at the Literary Festival.

My other workshop choice presented me with an opportunity to learn more about writing fiction from a ‘pro’. Trinidadian/American Dr. Elizabeth Nunez,  a Distinguished Professor at City University of New York and author of eight best-selling novels took time out from her busy schedule to host this session. She offered her enthusiastic audience considerable advice about this craft as a “process of self-discovery.”  She also ensured that we all were familiar with the structural aspects of this art. Her practical disclosures about attracting a publisher could also prove to be invaluable!

NILF Chairman Dr. Alwin Bully welcomed an attentive audience during the Opening Ceremony. He outlined the program for the weekend and revealed that historically, there have been other literary-minded groups in Dominica. An interest in books definitely continues to thrive!

The high calibre of presentations by these specialists was typical of all the sessions that I  attended over the weekend.  The  number of notable writers and poets at this event was phenomenal.  I felt so fortunate to be able to listen, participate, mix and mingle with such prominent literary personalities.  These people have certainly put West Indian literature “on the map!”

Professor George Lamming addresses the audience at the Opening Ceremony of the Nature Island Literary Festival 2012.

All seats were taken under the big tent during the Official Opening Ceremony of the Nature Island Literary Festival 2012.

Consider Professor George Lamming, Keynote Speaker at the Friday night Opening Ceremony.  This erudite octogenarian and award-winning novelist entranced the audience with his articulations about “the education of feeling,” that is, engaging the reader in feeling for the characters in a novel.  The scholarly Barbadian further expressed that we don’t read fiction for our heads, but for our hearts.  I agree with that pronouncement!

I confess that I did not have a real interest in poetry until I taught literature in senior high school.  It was only when I studied it at a deeper level that I developed a fascination with this literary art form.  My newer-found delight was further enhanced by impressive poetic renditions at this event.  The readers, or should I say performers used dramatic techniques that definitely brought different types of poems to life.

Lasana Sekou, preeminent literary artist from St. Martin.

 Adrian Green, a spoken word artist from Barbados and Lasana Sekou,  a prolific poet from St. Martin held me spellbound with their theatrical poetic performances, which were expressed through their highly articulate voices.  I will especially never forget Sekou’s spellbinding poetic presentation of a traditional West Indian cock-fight.

Adrian Green, Spoken Word Artist from Barbados.

Students from Convent High School entertained the Opening Ceremony audience with their creative choral speech performance.

Although the Literary Festival took place in mid-summer,some  students did take part and were welcome at all sessions.  During the Opening Ceremony, girls from Convent High School in Roseau entertained the audience with their own choral speech creation.  I hope that this type of unifying art will be encouraged at all schools – not just in Dominica – but worldwide!

My enduring fascination with Dominican literature was once again satiated at NILF.  Every year, there are sessions devoted to the Dominican literary perspective.  A panel discussion, interspersed with readings from an unpublished manuscript belonging to the late Dominican author, poet and politician Phyllis Shand Allfrey captured my rapt attention for over an hour.  Many attendees in the packed UWI auditorium agreed that they would like to continue to learn about her life and work, thanks to information disclosed during this presentation.

Dominican Dr.  Irving André reads a selection from his biography about prominent businessman Elias Nassief.

I also got to hear Honourable Judge Dr.  Irving André, a Dominican/Canadian who  sits on the bench of the Ontario Court  of Justice near  Toronto. He read from his compelling biography about Elias Nassief, a deceased  Dominican businessman.  Dr. André has produced a number of biographies about memorable Dominicans and significant episodes in local history through Pond Casse Press, of which he is a co-founder.

Dr. Lennox Honychurch reaches for a text written by a traveler to Dominica in an earlier era.

On Sunday morning, the seats were again all filled in the UWI auditorium as people gathered to hear preeminent local historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch talk about travel writers who have spent time near or on Dominica since 1493!  (This year is significant as that is when Columbus first sighted the island.  There were even some writers on the 17 ships  in his entourage!) Dr. Honychurch’s accompanying Power Point presentation really added to the detailed overview of those who  have been compelled to write about Dominica since the 15th century.

By late Sunday afternoon, my plate was overflowing with numerous tastes of West Indian literature. While there was so much more on the menu, I was completely satisfied with my own literary meal at the 2012 Nature Island Literary Festival and Book Fair.

During the event, there were  also opportunities to listen to some wonderful music by the Sixth Form Sisserou Singers and the Venezuelan Institute’s Cuatro Band. The Roseau Public Library was well represented with an interesting display of Dominican books and archival newspapers. Local foods were readily available, one could compete for prizes in writing contests, participate in open mic sessions and of course, there were books  for sale and exchange!  I was thrilled to have Dr. Elizabeth Nunez autograph two of her latest books for me.

Papillote Press is a small publisher  specializing in books about different aspects of Dominica.

It was fun to look over the available books and do a trade from one’s own collection in exchange for something appealing on the table.

Finally, I would be very remiss if I did not sincerely thank Chairman Dr. Alwin Bully and the entire Nature Island Literary Festival Committee for their dedication, desire and determination which resulted in a first class, freely available feast for many minds! I also salute  the sponsors who generously contributed to enable the success of this  event. I eagerly await the next one!

‘Ma Pampo’ and the Centenarians of Dominica*

Dominica's Mountainous Terrain, Lush Valleys and Clear Sky
Photo by Edwin Whitford

‘Longevity’ is a household word on Dominica, the Nature Island.

Presently, around 20 centenarians thrive as part of the country’s 70,000 people. That’s about three seniors over the age of 100 for every 10,000 residents. Reports suggest that their prevalence in the population is higher than most developed western countries!

A scientific study has examined a number of common traits among these 100-plus-year-olds. The findings suggest that this accomplishment is neither coincidence nor is it genetic.

Consider Elizabeth “Ma Pampo” Israel, who passed away in Dominica on October 14, 2003 at the extraordinary age of 128 years.

In 1999, a curious caregiver found a copy of her baptismal certificate in local Roman Catholic Church records. It indicated that her birth date was January 27, 1875. Shortly afterwards, a Dominican broadcast journalist announced this amazing piece of news to the media. Then Pampo achieved international notoriety in various publications including Time Magazine (February 14, 2000), as well as mentions on popular television programs.

However, the original birth record was destroyed by Hurricane David in 1979 and a building fire that same year burned the relevant government documentation. Therefore, the Guinness Book of Records could not authenticate the claim that Ma Pampo was the oldest human ever.

Nevertheless, the Government of Dominica and senior church officials remain proud to acknowledge Ma Pampo’s incredible achievement. She received the country’s highest tribute, the Dominica Award of Honour in 2002. When she died, hundreds of people attended her official ‘state’ funeral.

Dominican broadcaster and playwright Alex Bruno spent much time with Ma Pampo during the last few years of her life. He considers her the link to Dominica’s historic past from the modern world. She candidly revealed some insights as to the possible reasons for her abundance of time on earth. He was so inspired by her revelations that he wrote and staged a play entitled Pampo: the Drama, which is about her life. (www.cakafete.com/pampo).

Although she was the oldest of six children, she laboured on a plantation near Portsmouth on the northwestern coast of Dominica from a young age and retired when she was 104. She married “later in life” and had one child – a son, when she was in her forties. Her priorities were to take care of herself, her family and her job. Her daily toil initially earned her a penny a day. While she did not have many material goods, she managed with what she had.

Many varieties of locally grown fruits are found at the Roseau Market.

Organic produce is readily available on the Nature Island.

Even at an advanced age, she was very particular about what she ate. She felt that no one would live long if they ate fruits and vegetables contaminated by synthetic fertilizers. It was also clear that she practised a holistic lifestyle. Pampo firmly believed and demonstrated that people should embrace simplicity, honesty, good faith and proper health care – along with humour, patience and kindness every day of their lives.

A healthy diet can still be easily obtained on Dominica, thanks to fertile soil for growing numerous natural foods.

Coincidentally, a scientific research report was undertaken by professors at the Portsmouth Dominica campus of Ross University Medical School. It is entitled ‘Extreme Longevity in Dominica, West Indies: A Population Study’ (2004).


The results disclosed that there are specific trends and characteristics in common that prevail throughout the lives of other centenarians as well as Ma Pampo.

Clean fresh water is abundant on the Nature Island.
Photo by Edwin Whitford

It also revealed that Dominica’s pristine environment, very low levels of pollution, tranquil surroundings, minimal stress, abundant organic produce, high-protein, low-fat consumption; minimal use of alcohol and cigarettes, and clean water have enhanced the long lives of the centenarians. Life-long physical activity and accessible public health care also contributed to their well-being.

Elizabeth ‘Ma Pampo” Israel was a humble, hardworking, clean living person who did not bring any prominence upon herself. The remarkably similar healthy lifestyles of all living centenarians in the above-mentioned research study serve as an example to all that the right ingredients for a long life are readily available on Dominica – the Nature Island of the World.

Copyright ©2008, 2012 by Gwenith M. Whitford. All Rights Reserved.

*This post was originally published on a web site in 2008 that has since closed down.  There have been a few slight changes to the piece to make it current.  Pictures of Ma Pampo will be found on some of the linked web sites.

Online Resources and Links (2012):           

www.avirtualdominica.com/mapampo.htm

www.thedominican.net/pampotwo.htm

http://dominicanewsonline.com/news/all-news/general/census-shows-slight-decrease-in-population-haitians-main-migrants-to-dominica/

Hard Copy:

‘Irma is one hundred’ in The Sun Newspaper, Commonwealth of Dominica, Monday November 21, 2011, Front Page.

Whitford, Gwenith. ‘How to live to be 100’ in Queen’s Alumni Review (Kingston, Ontario Canada), Spring 2002, Back Page.


A Morning on Mero Beach

Mero Beach – northerly direction

On a mid-week morning in March, I ventured up the west coast of Dominica from Roseau to the seaside village of Mero.  My visit was two-fold:  I had an appointment with my French physiotherapist/osteopath Martine Varlet (767-316-2270) so I  looked forward to relief from some of my health challenges; and of course, I  had to allow a little time for a beach ‘lime’ (West Indian for hanging out).

Because it was a beautiful day and there were two cruise ships in port, I decided to visit the beach well before my 11 a.m. appointment. After a half hour on the public bus,  I hopped off it by the Mero Village entrance and within a couple of minutes , I was strolling along the seaside.  To my delight, there was not a soul in sight!   Mero is a popular spot for cruise shippers,  but they would not arrive until about midday on their tour buses.  For now, the pristine beach was all mine!

Mero Beach – southerly direction

I didn’t wander too far  along the expansive stretch of beach this time. I actually had a third goal: French pressed coffee and a slice of  the sensational passionfruit chocolate cake baked by Chef Dominique at Romance Cafe (767-449-7922)  right  on the beach.

Romance Cafe is set right on Mero Beach.

Carla and Tarrie will welcome you at Romance Cafe

Staff Carla and Tarrie greeted me in their usual warm and friendly way and then prepared my order.  Meanwhile, I walked around the tables and admired the very diverse artists’ works that are found on several table-tops.  A number of painters, both local and foreign have created  works of art, upon which one may dine and can even buy, if so desired.

After my perusal of this unusual gallery,  I selected a seat with my favourite table-top painting and gazed out to sea.  It was an idyllic Caribbean setting – the kind that most people dream about, I think.  The calm, inviting surf beckoned me and idle boats drifted lazily around their moorings.  There was no time for a ‘sea bath’  and an inviting lounge chair  that day, but those plans are definitely on the agenda for next time!

A Table-Top Painted by my friend Susan Weeks.

The Beach Chairs Beckon

One View from my table

I savored my treats, while relishing this tranquil and spectacular morning in paradise.

When I had finished the dregs of my coffee and picked up every last crumb on my plate, I glanced at my watch and realized it was almost 11 a.m..  I paid up and parted this lovely locale with promises that I would back very soon.                                                                                                                                                         for  a French/Dominican inspired meal, if I am lucky.

You might call me selfish, but I really don’t mind sharing a slice of the Nature Isle.  I just feel particularly blessed when I have a few moments of this precious place all to myself!

An Afternoon in the Rainforest

gwendominica on the suspension bridge over the Breakfast River Gorge 300 feet below.

UPDATE: MAY 30, 2012.

Dominica’s Rainforest Aerial Tram has ceased operations.  This is a very sad day for the tourism industry in Dominica.  I wish all the staff the best of luck and thank them for providing an excellent tourism product.  For further information, consult:

http://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/news/business/sixty-six-jobless-as-aerial-tram-shuts-down/  and

http://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/news/business/aerial-tram-dominica-explains-shut-down/

On a cool and drizzly Sunday afternoon, I accepted a friend’s invitation to join her and members of the Dominican Welfare and Hospital Aid Scheme on an outing to Laudat in Dominica’s interior .  In this lush location, we took a tour on the Rainforest Aerial Tram. (http://www.rainforestadventure.com/)

I had not been back to take another Tram tour since it first opened in 2003!  I wasn’t really sure what to expect after all those years.  When we arrived, we had to wait for some time, as a number of groups from a cruise ship were preparing to board the gondolas which could each only hold 8 guests and a guide. In the mean time, there was delectable Dominican coffee to drink, sheltered picnic tables upon which to sit and spectacular scenery to admire at the ‘ground level’.

After about half an hour, we were asked to assemble in an orderly  fashion and we quickly  boarded several of the 22 gondolas in preparation for our above-ground tour.  Our ascent would begin at about 2,000 feet above sea level.  We would climb to 2,500 feet (the upper limit of the rainforest) where we would disembark for a brief walking tour.  Then we  would descend on another cable line that would keep us above the tree-tops for most  of the return journey.

Our friendly guide, Craig Johnson  incessantly plied us with piles of  fascinating facts about the flora, fauna, geology and history  of Dominica for more than one hour. My only regret is that I was not carrying a notebook .There was so much to remember!

A friendly ‘Parasite’ forms a symbiotic relationship with a tree

Craig told us about the four levels of the rainforest and its abundant foliage. There seemed to be endless plants, trees, flowers and birds thriving in this moist and fertile terrain.  He especially amazed us with his in-depth knowledge of plants and their scientific names, as well as their English and Creole versions.  I was further impressed with his understanding of the medicinal and traditional uses of a number of  plants. It seemed that a remedy for almost every ailment can be found in the rainforest.  We saw plants that could alleviate migraines, reduce hypertension, soothe sores and enhance sexual vitality, among other things.  We all  agreed that nature’s pharmacy is obviously found on the Nature Isle.

The plaintive calls of thrushes and the melodious trills of the elusive mountain whistler accompanied us as we  slowly moved along while admiring all of the stunning sights. “Rider,” a bold little Bullfinch hopped on board for part of our excursion as he searched hopefully for a crumb or two.  We were certainly completely immersed in our rainforest experience!

While we oooed and aaahed at this ‘heaven on earth’, Craig  reminded us that there are frighteningly few rainforests and that they only cover  about 6 % of the entire planet.  These precious portions of land are too vital to our survival  to ever be destroyed again.

As an avid hiker, I also paid strict attention to which plants could provide food and water in case I were ever lost  in Dominica’s  dense  jungle.

But next time, I’ll be sure to bring that notebook!

Magnificent buttresses of the Chatannye (pronounced Sha-tah-nay)tree.They are a prominent and spectacular sight in Dominica’s rainforest areas.

The rainforest here is dense and lush with hundreds of plants and trees, which have regenerated since Category 4 Hurricane David wiped most of them out in 1979.

Look out below! The depths of the Breakfast River Gorge 300′ below the suspension bridge. It flows into the ‘mother’ or female cascade at the twin Trafalgar Falls.

Mighty Morne Macaque (French) Micotrin (Carib) which means monkey in English is one of Dominica’s highest mountains at 4,006 as seen from the upper descending gondola line’. There are no monkeys on the Nature Isle, but you would have to be one to climb it!

Another Day in Dominica

But this is no ordinary day, I should say.  That’s because I have finally decided to post some articles, thoughts, and feelings about Dominica on my new blog.

It’s slow going, but that is the name of the game here.  I am on ‘island time’, after all.As a long time resident of Dominica, I feel very much at home here on the Nature Island.  I am very fortunate to benefit from the bountiful clean air, food and water on this lesser-known island in the Caribbean. It has been said repeatedly, that if Christopher Columbus were to revisit the Caribbean now, Dominica would be the only island that he would easily recognize.  I feel very lucky to live here, and my health has benefited from it tremendously.

Today is very showery and breezy, typical of this time of year when the strong trade winds from the east blow over Dominica’s tall mountains and low clouds moisten the exotic rainforest and the seaside.

More about me later, as this blog unfolds.  For now,meditate upon a photo or two of this lovely island until my next episode.