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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Incredible Life of Tia-pet, the Dominican Wonder-Cat

Tia-pet (1998-2014) was a lovely and lively Caribbean short hair domestic cat. Photo taken by (Aunty) Jenny Spencer in August 2011.

Tia-pet (1998-2014) was a lovely and lively Caribbean short-haired domestic cat. Photo taken by ‘Aunty’ Jenny Spencer in August 2011.

I am not aware of many cats that have lived out all nine lives on Dominica, but I can assure you that my dear little Tia-pet was

Tia was tiny when he found his first parents in a residential area north of Roseau early in 1998.

Tia was tiny when he’ found’ his first pet parents (Lorraine and Steven) in a residential area north of Roseau early in 1998. Photo by S or L Ricketts.

one of a select few felines in this category.  At the age of 16+ human years, he  departed this earth en route to “cat heaven.”  Since  my furry friend passed away at home on May 3, 2014, I feel as if I have the lost the greatest gift I ever received on

Aunty Susan Weeks painted this image of Tia in 2011 . it was based on a photo I had taken of him at play in 2010.

‘Aunty’ Susan Weeks painted this likeness of Tia in 2011 . It was based on a photo I had taken of him at play in 2010.

Dominica.  But I am oh so thankful for all the time we had together; his constant companionship amounted to another enduring and exceptional experience on the Nature Island!

When I made the final decision to move to Dominica, I first settled

at Springfield Plantation in August 1998.  There, I met a British/Dominican couple who had found a little kitten where they lived for some time before moving to the mountainous site to work on the property.  Although  a male, they had named him Tia when he was very tiny.  Lo and behold, they came to me after I had not been there for more than a month and informed me that they would be returning to the U.K.  As they could not take their animals with them, they asked me if I would be interested in adopting the young cat.  As I  was moving in to their little house, I found myself in the horns of a dilemma.  I reluctantly agreed, although I was not really interested, due to allergies and other plans. I figured he would just wander away to another home if I showed no interest. Well, you can see that never came to pass. I resisted and Tia persisted.  He would cry and cry until I let him in and as a very determined little critter, he simply wormed his way into my heart.

I always referred to Tia as being the 'King of the Kiity-Cats' on Dominica.  He sure had a regal look to me!

I always referred to Tia as being the ‘King of the Kitty-Cats’ on Dominica. He sure had a regal look to me!

Perhaps one of the strangest things, and the biggest blessing for me, was that I was NOT allergic to him.  For a while, I thought I had lost that allergy, but then I have proved that I still have it over the years with different cats both here and abroad. Go figure!

TTia as also known as Garfield after  a period of too much canned milk and kibble.  he was put on a strict diet by the vet!

Tia was also known as Garfield after a period of too much canned milk and kibble in his younger years. He was put on a strict diet by the vet!

Tia was a frisky critter and liked to jump from the counter to the fridge-top in his younger days.

Tia was a frisky critter and liked to jump from the counter to the fridge-top in his younger days. But even as he got older, he was always full of fun!

By the time I moved from Springfield, we were firm friends.  I could go on about his adventures and close calls, but suffice it to say that  Tia was one tough kitty.  He was never a cuddly, jump-on-your lap cat.  Instead, he delighted in very rough play.  I and others who dared came away with scratches, superficial bites and sore arms from playing with that cat for hours at a time.  And if he was hungry, or wanted in or out, it was hard to ignore that powerful yowl.

Tia loved to hunt - real critters or toy ones.  He was playful pussycat!

Tia loved to hunt – live animals or toy ones. He was a playful pussy cat!

Of course he was spoiled, but the pleasure was all mine.  He reciprocated with gifts from field forays: lizards, mice and little birds.  Sometimes there were other souvenirs from his outings: a number of vets treated Tia for cat bite abscesses .  Sometimes they were so large they had to be surgically removed.  Although Tia had been neutered when he was young, he remained a territorial type.  At all times of day and night ,I would hear the unforgettable piercing screams of two cats at war. Neighbours would sometimes tell me that my cat was giving their cat “blows.”  But then came the day when Tia could no longer hold his own and his opponent seemed to have the advantage.

When he was 12  years old, I decided it would be in his best interest to become an indoor cat, as he was starting to lose those feline battles.  The vet was worried that he would not adapt well, but Tia took it all in stride.  He still had access to protected porches and balconies and was able to content himself by hanging out in those locations with a view.  And of course, he would always still  play with anyone who dared!

While there were signs of slowing down which became increasingly obvious this past winter when he turned 16, he still jumped up on the porch balcony to check out the birds by day and the bats by night.  But one evening, I  let him out on the porch  alone while I did something else inside for a few minutes.  When I went to check on him, I could not find him.  I took a flashlight, looked down two flights below to the ground – and there he was – still moving.  I ran down, scooped him up and called Tia’s last vets, husband and wife team Dr. Ronnie George and Dr. Nausima Paul in extreme panic.  Fortunate for me, they had just finished their clinic and were on their way home, which is nearby.  They came right away and examined him.  There did not seem to be any obvious or serious injury, except for some sore muscles.  Without access to x-ray or ultra-sound, there was no way to know anything further.  However, from that point in late February, Tia rapidly declined, although he did hang on for some time.

This is the last photo of Tia, taken on February 27, 2014.  By then, he had already fallen off of the back porch and had to be helped onto the bed - but his spirit was still strong.

This is the last photo of Tia, taken on February 27, 2014. By then, he had already fallen off of the back porch and had to be helped onto the bed – but his spirit was still strong.

Those wonderful vets continued to check on him – frequently. They also  received a number of calls from Tia’s scared mummy as his behaviour changed and he seemed not himself over those last couple of months.  It was hard to watch him fail, but that rough cat definitely had the heart of lion, and I was sure to tell him so.  He did not seem to be in pain until the very last day.  I sensed that the end was near and stayed right beside him for many hours.  I am so thankful that I was there when he looked at me wide-eyed and then took his last breath.  I assured him that I loved him, and then he left for that great mouse-hunting field in the sky – “cat heaven” as my mother referred to that celestial abode when I was a little girl.

This whole sad event would have been much more devastating  had it not been for the calm and reassuring counsel of my Canadian friend Nancy from Springfield.  We spoke many times on Tia’s last day on earth.  After he departed, she kindly offered to bury him at Springfield the next morning.  I was  comforted by her generosity, as that beautiful mountain location means so much to me.  Tia had gone full circle and his remains now rest at the place where we first became a family.

It was sunny and lovely on Sunday May 3, 2014.  Nancy drove a distance to collect me so we could take Tia’s body for burial.  She allowed me to sob and cry and unleash my grief while she alone  prepared the ground with pick-axe and shovel.  I offered to help her, but she refused.  I was impressed with her strength and grateful that I could mourn freely.  Fortunately, it was a quiet day and no one else was on the property.  When Tia was placed in the earth by Nancy, we said a final good-bye and she tucked his toys all around him.  I placed some rosemary for remembrance over his towel-shrouded body.  Then we covered him with the damp  heavy clay earth, small stones and  finally larger ones.  I placed a bouquet of white  anthurium lilies and  we put some pretty potted  flowers on top of the grave.

Tia's final resting place at Springfield is in a peaceful spot surrounded by fruit trees.

Tia’s final resting place at Springfield is in a peaceful spot surrounded by fruit trees.

Tia's grave site has spectacular views at Springfield.

Tia’s grave site has spectacular views at Springfield.

Although I was extremely sad, I was content with the knowledge that he was at rest at one of the most beautiful places on earth.  I will miss him for as long as live, but I am extremely thankful to have had endless pleasure from the companionship of a little boy cat named Tia.  “Thank you for being in my life . I love you – forever and ever.”

THANK YOUs

As I think back over the 16 years that Tia was in my life, I am quite amazed at the number of people who have helped me with his care.  I am indebted to all of you and I thank

Neigbour Kristelle was Tia's best friend for many years.  After all, they were the same age!  She ehlped to take care of him many times for me.

Neighbour Kristelle was Tia’s best friend for years. After all, they were the same age! She helped to take care of him many times.

you for what you have done so that Tia could have the best quality of life possible for a cat.  God bless you!

Friends, neighbours and cat lovers:

Special thanks to Vernon Gordon and family, my former neighbours who looked after Tia often between 2004-11.  Their willing assistance and wonderful cat care enabled me to travel all over Dominica for my writing assignments, spend time in other Caribbean countries as well as  summers in Canada and leave quickly when my mother died.

Also to Ursula Joseph, my faithful  helper for 14+ years who was always there for Tia and even rescued him from a couple of scary situations (which gave her a fright).

Nancy Osler at Springfield helped me through the most difficult process of Tia’s imminent death, his burial at Springfield and the painful hours afterwards by being there for me and allowing me to freely grieve.

Liz Madisetti was on stand-by to take care of Tia this forthcoming summer, even though his health was failing.  She was completely willing  to pet sit, despite the uncertain circumstances.

Other caring pet-sitters over the years (also known as Tia’s ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles”) included: Eddie Shillingford, Tessia Butler, Dr. Patricia Rodney, Whitney Sommers, Malcolm, John, Peter, Dr. Caryl Lockhart, Susan and Alden Weeks, Jenny Spencer, Ben Tapley. (If I have forgotten anyone else, I’ll be sure to list you and soon as I remember!)

Veterinarians played a critical role in ensuring Tia’s good  health and well-being over his long cat life, and I have the utmost of respect and admiration for their compassionate work with all animals:

Dr. John Toussaint, Dr. J. Collin McIntyre, Dr. Caryl Lockhart, Dr. Reginald Thomas, Dr. Nausima Paul and Dr. Ronnie George were always available when Tia had an illness or an injury or was in need of a check-up.  I especially appreciate the many times that Dr. Reggie Thomas came to the house to examine Tia as  he became a senior cat.

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

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

Finally, I am forever grateful to Dr. Nausima Paul and her husband Dr. Ronnie George who provided phenomenal geriatric and end-stage care.  They were basically on-call for the last two months of Tia’s life. Their support, guidance and interventions enabled me to better  understand this phase  and allow Tia to make a smoother transition to the hereafter.

To Tia’s first pet parents, Lorraine and Steven Ricketts: If you ever come upon this blog post, know that you gave me the greatest gift of my life in Dominica.  Heartfelt thanks.

Rest in peace, dear Tia-pet.

Footnote:  In June 2014, Lorraine, Tia’s first pet mummy contacted me out-of-the-blue by email and enquired about me and the little cat.  We had lost touch for several years and I had to give her the sad news of his passing straight away.  However, it was lovely to reconnect with her and to have shared the special gift of Tia-pet, the Dominican Wonder Cat!