A Nature Meditation at Springfield Dominica*

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It’s always restorative to occasionally return to Springfield, my first home in Dominica.

After having spent several days “under the weather” in the midst of planning my overseas “relocation” to Canada, I felt that a day spent in a nature meditation would put me “back on track.” What better place to go than my beloved Springfield, an old estate where I lived and became familiar with the beauty of Dominica and its people in 1997 and 1998.

Nowadays,  Springfield is actually a private international research and educational institution, called the Archbold Tropical Research and Education Center (ATREC).  You can read more about it in an earlier article I wrote for Domnitjen Magazine by clicking here. I am fortunate to be well acquainted with its Managing Director, Nancy Osler, who is a longtime Canadian friend. On the day of my visit, there were no students or other researchers in-house, so I was able to freely roam the grounds for an afternoon and clear my mind of all things of immediate concern.

Although I had hiked part of the Fifi Road above the old estate with friend Jen about a year ago, I had never gone to its top viewpoint before.  I was certainly in the mood for a moderate workout and the slightly overcast conditions allowed for a very comfortable amble on a groomed trail through the rainforest.  As I strolled along, I admired the multitudinous shades of green, interspersed with colourful wild flowers and other tropical plants.  It was fairly easy going, with only a couple of felled trees to climb over or under.  As I looked into the distance, I observed obvious landslides and  recent gullies that reminded me of Tropical Storm Erika’s wrath upon the Nature Island only six months earlier.

But in the forest, with  background accompaniment of  intermittent calls  of warblers, finches, thrushes and parrots,  I could feel my mind quieting down.  In fact, I ceased to really think about anything at all, thanks to the distraction of the natural beauty that enveloped me on all sides. In this paradise-like setting, I was content to be “in the moment” – at least for the next hour or two.

After  a gradual uphill climb of about half an hour, I reached a clearing which faced east

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Prominent mountains such as Morne Anglais are part of the southerly view from Springfield esate.

and south of the Springfield property.  I gasped – in amazement, not shortness of breath! Before me was the most mystical and magical scene: low clouds shrouded the mighty Morne Microtin, situated at the top of the Roseau Valley, as I looked in a south-central direction.  As the skies cleared slightly, I also could see beyond this massif, as I looked further south. Morne Anglais prominently featured on the skyline, along with other mountains beyond her!  And when I turned my head to look at the densely forested ridge to the

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Peek-a-boo!  I think that’s a peak of Morne Trois Pitons  as seen in an easterly direction from the heights of Springfield Estate.

east of my vantage point, I observed a small section of a very high peak, which I guessed could only be Morne Trois Pitons,  the dominant feature in the centre of the island.  Forgive the cliché, but these “million dollar views” (as my brother Edwin would say about Dominica) were naturally breathtaking.

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The mountain village of Cochrane, as seen from the top of Springfield Estate.

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Morne Micotrin as seen from the heights of Springfield Estate.

I wandered around the small clearing for several minutes taking  in the views from slightly different angles.  Then I decided to let the scene soak in to my soul as I seated myself on an exposed tree root. It was impossible to think about anything troubling as I stared into the distance.  Euphoria seemed to be overtaking me and I didn’t even want to think why.  I just let it happen, as waves of tranquility washed over me.

When I had filled my mind (and camera) with plentiful images of the Nature Island at its

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Heliconia plants thrive in the lush terrain at Springfield.

 

finest, I  slowly wended my way back down this track.  Where it ended, I eagerly clamoured up  a few dozen concrete steps to an

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Some of the inviting steps up to the Mount Joy area of Springfield Estate.

area known as Mount Joy. This was originally an  independent estate but for many years has formed part of Springfield.  That detail is also found in my earlier article about this estate, which you may refer to here.   I did not linger long in this area, except to watch hummingbirds flit to and fro and admire the prolific heliconia plants and stately

coconut palms. I delighted in all the wildflowers along the way, such as these:

By this time, I had worked up an appetite, and as I was in close proximity to a popular eatery called Miranda’s

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Good food is always found at Miranda’s Corner, on the Imperial Road just above Springfield.

Corner, I followed the trail to the main road and walked a short distance further uphill.  Miranda is a woman who has a reputation for consistently good home-cooked Dominican-style food. And she always remembers me, even though I haven’t lived in the area for years.  Although she was not there at that time, her  welcoming daughter served me a deliciously seasoned meaty chicken leg and a huge serving of macaroni and cheese, accompanied by a small salad. Initially, I was afraid that I would waste some of the meal, as it was so large.  But that was not to be the case…I think I even surprised Miranda’s daughter when I showed her the empty plate!

It’s a good thing it was a downhill stroll back to Springfield, as my stomach was more than full.  By that time, it was mid-afternoon, and I was anxious to spend some quiet time at

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Santi is the sweet resident cat at Springfield who is always up for a few pats and a close chat.

the grave site of my dearly departed kitty, Tia-pet. He died in 2014 and you can read about his amazing life and our Springfield

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My dear Tia-pet rests in a beautiful natural setting that I adorn with flowers and rosemary whenever I visit Springfield.

connection here. I still miss him very much, as he was with me for 16 years. I like to pay tribute to my long-time companion by placing flowers on his resting place.  But before I continued to that site, I spent a little time with a lovely cat named Santi, who is the resident mouse-catcher and attention-seeker at Springfield.  She is very affectionate and I enjoyed a little down-time by benefiting from some  pet therapy too.

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“When angels are near, feathers appear.” I found this one not far from Tia-pet’s grave.  For what it is worth, I was comforted by that notion!

After a little while, I descended to the area of the estate where Tia is buried.  Whenever I am there, I always feel a tremendous sense of peace and calm. And this time, a little voice   in my head  encouraged me to go ahead with my relocation plans, while reassuring me that everything would work out fine.  Wherever it came from, I don’t know, but in this heavenly location, I reaffirm my belief in angels!

From there, I continued along a track  that leads to the Springfield River. It was all I could do to watch my step as I was constantly gazing around the forest as I visually absorbed copious shades of green!

When I arrived at the river bank, I gasped again – but this time it was in shock!  Tropical Storm Erika had definitely made her presence known here, as the scene was completely different than what it had been for the past almost 20 years that I had visited this spot .  Gone were the big boulders for sitting by the riverside, and the deep pools beside the track’s end had completely disappeared.  I was able to walk across the  now very shallow river in an area where it would have previously been impossible.  I did not linger long, nor did I take a river bath, as for numerous reasons, it just didn’t feel right.  When I return next time, I will take a ‘river walk’ in order to discover a new pool in a nearby location. There is no doubt that Mother Nature is in control.  As well, climate change has left an indelible mark on the Nature Island!

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Water once flowed freely in this section of the Springfield River below Springfield estate.

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The same area AFTER T.S.Erika

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The bathing pool below Springfield on the Springfield River BEFORE T.S. Erika.

However, I continued with my meditational reverie as I walked back up to the guest house section of the property.  There, I met Managing Director and friend Nancy, who enthusiastically showed me her growing garden. As I looked at the thriving plants, I felt very thankful for Dominica’s fertile volcanic soil, and of course, Nancy’s green thumb!

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Nancy’s garden is definitely thriving, thanks to her TLC and the fertile soil.

As the afternoon wore on, I felt tired but truly refreshed after having spent some time in this precious protected place and its pristene surroundings. In my mind, there is nothing more therapeutic than  being closely connected to nature and its offerings.

Why don’t you try it, and tell me what you think, no matter where you live on the planet!

* Special thanks to Nancy for the opportunity to have some  “downtime” at my favourite place on Dominica and for helping me identify the mountains and village in the photos.

 

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Admiring the Remarkable Restoration of Fort Shirley: Dominica’s Premier Historic Site

The Cabrits National Park and Fort Shirley (two dots on left hill) are an easy gaze across Prince Rupert Bay from Picard Beach.

The Cabrits National Park and Fort Shirley (two dots on left hill) are an easy gaze across Prince Rupert Bay from Picard Beach.

Over my birthday weekend 2014, I decided that it was high time I had a good look around the restored site of Dominica’s Fort Shirley in

One of  the cannons at Fort Shirley that faces Prince Rupert Bay.  Portsmouth is in the middle distance and mighty Morne Diablotin, Dominica's tallest mountain hovers in the background.

One of the cannons at Fort Shirley that faces Prince Rupert Bay. Portsmouth is in the middle distance and mighty Morne Diablotin, Dominica’s tallest mountain hovers in the background.

the Cabrits National Park at Portsmouth. It would have been impossible to ignore it;  the brightly coloured authentic red roofs of the Officers’ Quarters and the Troops’ Barracks stood out as important reminders when I glanced at The Cabrits  across Prince Rupert Bay from either Picard Beach or The Champs Hotel.

Interestingly, this important historic site served as the base for one of my first forays with ‘Birdy’ (Bertrand Jno Baptiste), forestry officer, local bird authority and tour guide par excellence back in 1997!   While a few structures of the old fort were standing, much of the place was in ruins back then, although some work had been ongoing since the 1980’s. Birdy showed me around, but his main focus was on the natural history, botany and biology of the flora and fauna in the area. I can still remember looking for snakes (there a five types on Dominica) and observing puffed up gecko lizards in action!

In fact, the natural history museum, which is found below the entrance to the fort provides a wonderful overview of this eco-site and its environs.  I am proud to report that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) partnered with the Government of Dominica to open this Welcome Centre in 1996!  Once again, I made a point of briefly studying the  geological exhibits and admiring some of the  archeological relics that had been found in the area.

I had returned to this lovely park off and on over the past 17 plus years, but  it was only this time that I fully appreciated the significance of this important historic site, thanks to a careful and concise restoration of the property, commandeered by renowned local historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch, PhD.DSCF3118

This area, which was formed from an ancient volcanic crater has had residents since 3,000 BC and has continually attracted passersby, such as some of Christopher Columbus’s entourage on his second voyage in 1493!  More dates and details that chronicle the history and development of Fort Shirley at The Cabrits on Prince Rupert Bay can be reviewed on Dr. Honychurch’s web site, by clicking here.

I've been there ,I've done it!  This sign marks the spot where the Waitukubuli National Trail ends in the Cabrits National Park.

I’ve been there , I’ve done it! This sign marks the spot where the Waitukubuli National Trail ends in the Cabrits National Park.

The East Cabrits Trail leads to Douglas Bay and the ruins of  battery there.  It's also the last leg of the last segment (140 of the Waitukubuli National Trail.

The East Cabrits Trail leads to Douglas Bay and   a former battery that is situated there. It’s also the last leg of the last segment (14) of the Waitukubuli National Trail.

It's hard to get lost on The Cabrits - unless you wander off of the well marked trails!

It’s hard to get lost on The Cabrits – unless you wander off of the well-marked trails!

As I strode up the pathway, passing through the  entrance in the  high stone wall, I stopped to look at the interpretive signs en route to the fortification.  I appreciated the directional signage as well as the descriptions of flora and fauna that are found in the area.  While it might be unusual to sight a goat on these two large ‘mounds’ nowadays, there was a time when sailors would leave such animals in this locale to graze so that they would have some fresh sustenance upon their return to this spot.  Hence the name “cabrits,” which means ‘goat’ in French, Spanish and Portuguese!

It's a bit of a climb from the entrance way to the restored buildings at Fort Shirley, but I can assure you that it is entirely worth it!

It’s a bit of a climb from the entrance way to the restored buildings at Fort Shirley, but I can assure you that it is entirely worth it!

I was not alone on this Sunday morning.   A church group lugged their picnic baskets and chairs up the taxing incline, and conducted a service in the covered lee side porch of the Officers’ Quarters while overlooking Prince Rupert Bay and mighty Morne Diablotin in the distance.  To me, their peaceful  and grateful celebration  of life  in such wondrous surroundings added to the serenity and solemnity of this intriguing site.

The day was heating up quickly so I did not take the hikes on the East or West Cabrits Trails.  That would wait for the next time.  However, I did stop to stare with awe at the carefully constructed stone walls and the tidy masonry, apparent on all the buildings.  I could see that there was still some work to be done, but knowing Dr. Honychurch, this labour of love will continue as much as possible.  There actually have been international supporters in this ambitious venture, such as the European Union (2006-07).  The Government of Dominica also recognizes the tremendous importance of this place, as it is a proud symbol of the country’s heritage.

Interestingly, no battles ever took place at the Fort, which was named after Governor Thomas Shirley in the mid 18th century, when the major construction began.  However, the famous” Battle of the Saints,” between the British and the French could be observed from this site on 12th April 1782.  Later, in 1802 there was in fact a revolt at this location by the 8th West India Regiment, comprised of former slaves. It is explained by Dr. Honychurch in this notation right here.

This ancient water pump is located in front of the Officers' Quarters. In the background, people trudge up the hill for a well-deserved picnic!

This ancient water pump is located in front of the Officers’ Quarters. In the background, people trudge up the hill for a well-deserved picnic!

The view of Morne Diablotin from the Lower Battery at Fort Shirley is a remarkable site to behold.

The view of Morne Diablotin from the wall of the Lower Battery at Fort Shirley is a remarkable site/sight to behold.

The Officers' Quarters is a majestic building that often hosts weddings and other special events.

The Officers’ Quarters is a majestic building that often hosts weddings and other special events.

The Troops' Barracks are set up to provide hostel-like accommodation with pre-arranged groups.

The Troops’ Barracks are set up to provide hostel-like accommodation for pre-arranged groups.

These cannons face the entrance to Prince Rupert Bay, as part of its defence system.

These cannons face the entrance to Prince Rupert Bay, as part of its defence system.

I appreciated the fine work that has been and continues to be done at Fort Shirley.  I could easily see that this restoration is of a very high standard (no surprise!). It reminded me of similar restored historic sites in eastern Canada that are known to me , such as the Halifax Citadel and Fortress Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia; Quebec City’s Citadelle;  and Fort Henry in Kingston Ontario.  They were all originally built and occupied for the same reason (territorial military defence!) during the 18th and 19th centuries.

While I followed and read the information on the abundant signage and referred to a helpful brochure, my only  wish would  have been a guided tour, with access to  the interior of the buildings.  However, it was a quiet Sunday morning in the off-season,  and neither Dr. Honychurch nor other restoration team members were on the property at that time.  No matter – I will  return again and continue my explorations of fascinating Fort Shirley in The Cabrits National Park.  Sincere thanks to Dr. Lennox Honychurch, for his exceptional efforts to preserve the essence of this exceptional  landmark and historic site, for the benefit of all!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roseau Dominica: Charming Caribbean Capital – Part 1

Hurricane season is here – and the heat and humidity are turned up high!  As you might imagine, the Nature Island is showered with rain, sometimes gentle and sometimes fierce at this time of year.  Although it doesn’t stop me from hiking, I am mindful of approaching storms and  inclement weather, as there are increased risks of flooding and landslides.

It’s no matter really – I can still get a good work-out around the capital city Roseau – and a sauna on the streets if I am there in the heat of the day.

This charming Caribbean capital is filled with history, gorgeous views and diverse shops and houses – both old and new.

For me, this town provides endless fascination, as its mood and temperature can dramatically change from early morning to late afternoon.  And every day is different too!

I like to walk up to the top of  Morne Bruce, which was once the island’s largest military fort.  It is situated above the Botanical Gardens.  It’s a lovely spot to take in a bird’s-eye view of Roseau on a quiet Sunday morning or a late afternoon, when the sun is sinking low over the Caribbean Sea.  The roughly half hour climb up the road is steep and is  good preparation for any future foray into the forest!  The following pictures depict some of the sites/sights  seen from above the town:

The 12,000 seat cricket stadium features prominently when looking down from Morne Bruce. The Botanical Gardens are in the foreground.

People often light memorial candles at the base of the Morne Bruce Cross which overlooks Roseau.

Behind the cross, one can gaze inland up the Roseau Valley to Morne Micotrin (Macaque), a dormant volcano.

Scotts Head is seen in the distance when walking up or down the road to Morne Bruce.The village that appears to be in front of the promontory is Pointe Michel.

The only cannon left on Morne Bruce from the 18th century seems to protect Roseau from an imaginary invasion.

The Roseau Public Library is among my favourite hang-outs in town.

Once back down from the Morne, two of my favourite haunts are found nearby on Victoria Street, on the  southern approach to the downtown part of Roseau.  I love the Roseau Public Library – and that’s no exaggeration!  This stately building is just over a century old, and was actually built with funds donated by American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. I credit this little library with expanding my tastes in literature and always offering me books of interest to take home and enjoy every week.   It’s a comfortable place to study or write, and they have wireless internet too.  The book choice is broad.  I’ve read classics, current and past best sellers, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, foreign authors in English translation and little known gems of literature. I’ve even expanded my familiarity with past and contemporary Canadian and West Indian writers.  There are many generous donors, including authors, expatriates, the Canadian Consulate, the U.S. Embassy and some cruise ship lines.  The library has an online public access catalogue (OPAC), so you can look at their collection, no matter where you are!

The main entrance to the Fort Young Hotel on Victoria Street. This establishment is a very popular place to socialize and/or stay awhile.

As I continue towards the town centre, I always pass by and sometimes go into to the historic Fort Young Hotel, which was originally built in 1770.  It became the Police Headquarters in the mid-19th century and then was converted into tourist accommodation in 1964. However, it was demolished by Hurricane David in 1979 and did not reopen until 1989.  It’s a very popular spot for a cool drink, a seaside meal, special events and meetings. Their famous Friday Happy Hour always draws a crowd.  It’s a great place to meet and greet friends – both old and new!

Remembrance Day 2012 at the Cenotaph in Roseau Dominica. The President of Dominica, Eluid Williams is in the dark suit in the centre of the photo.

On the way to the Bay Front and the Cruise Ship Pier, I take note of the War Memorial (Cenotaph) at the round-about on my right.  That’s where I attend the official Remembrance Day commemorative service every year.  Across the road, Peebles Park offers benches and shady trees, as well as a bandstand, which is always used by the Government Band for its ever-popular annual Christmas Concert.

The cruise ships can anchor  at the pier on the Bay Front in downtown Roseau. Photo by Edwin Whitford

During the cruise ship season, I really enjoy

A number of cruise liners anchor at Roseau during the tourist season (Oct. - Apr.)

A number of cruise liners anchor at Roseau during the tourist season (Oct. – Apr.)

watching those massive boats anchor along the pier.  It’s also fun to see them off.   I always hope that all the passengers who disembarked on the Nature Isle had a truly wonderful day.

The Dominica Museum is a great place to learn more about Dominica’s history and culture. The Tourist Information office is on the ground floor of this building.

In order to refresh my memory about Dominican history, geography, geology and culture, I occasionally re-visit the Dominica Museum, which is directly opposite the Cruise Ship Pier. It’s filled with artifacts, maps and displays.  I always come away with a better understanding of this country and am constantly in awe of its unique attributes.  Then I like to go behind the Museum and walk around the Old Market.  This particular cobblestone square is rife with history. It was a public gathering place for meetings, as well as slave auctions and punishments in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.   In addition, it was a market where at one time the trade was fruits and vegetables. This is now in another site called the ‘New Market’ – to be described in  another post.   These days, colourful stalls showcase and sell crafts, clothing, local music, and other products of interest to visitors and residents alike.  I enjoy purchasing trinkets, locally made products, T-shirts and beach wraps from the friendly vendors for gifts when I travel to Canada.

This old fountain stands over what was once a well for potable water in the Old Market Square.

The quaint Cartwheel Cafe on Roseau’s Bay Front is situated in a sturdy stone structure that has endured for more than a century and a half!

The friendly staff at the Cartwheel Cafe serve up delicious dishes and make everyone feel at home!

By now, I’ve been walking and looking around for a couple of hours.  It’s time for some refreshment at the Cartwheel Cafe (448-5353), which is  just a few steps north on the opposite side of the Bay Front from the Cruise Ship Pier.  I usually devour their Dominican breakfast, and especially enjoy the codfish plate.  If I’m just looking for a snack, I’ll typically munch on a couple of tuna-filled quiches.  Their local lunches are always large and flavourful. These tasty meals hit the spot after a big work-out (such as this amble around town!). I usually end up taking home a slice of their delectable chocolate cake for later –  in my estimation it’s the best in Roseau!

My walk around Roseau will continue on another day.  In the next post, I’ll be showing you some diverse streetscapes.  They’re an awesome mix of old and new!

References:

Honychurch, Lennox. Dominica: Isle of Adventure. Second Edition. (MacMillan), 1995.

Honychurch, Lennox.  Historic Roseau: The Capital of Dominica. (Paramount), 2000.

SHAPE (Society for Heritage, Architecture, Preservation and Enhancement. Self-guided walking tour: Historic Roseau. (booklet).