Poetic Island

Poetic Island
The wonders of Dominica

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Twin Falls- Day 11

Today I visited Trafalgar Falls in the village of Trafalgar; I prefer to call it Twin Falls. There are two reasons for preferring this name: (1) there are two waterfalls and I cannot recall any other place on island that has two falls, and (2) there is both cold and hot water for bathing.  Before taking a bus to the village, I stop by a local restaurant to get my favorite callaloo soup. The soup is made of a green leafy plant called callaloo, and it is filled with smoked chicken, dumplings, provisions, potatoes, herbs, and local spices.  If you are in Roseau on a Saturday, soups and broths are the main entrees. There is the red bean soup, pigtail soup, pumpkin soup, and a local favorite is fish broth.  So now that my tummy is full and ready for a river bath. 

The bus fare to the falls is $5EC and you must purchase an ecotourism site pass to access the falls, the fee is $13EC which $5US. The trail to Trafalgar Falls takes about 15 minutes and has locally made steps until you reach a built platform that gives you a great opportunity to take group photo or to get a great picture of both falls. 

However after you leave this platform, the rest of the path is full of rocks and requires the appropriate shoes so that you don’t slip and hurt yourself. I have known tourists to hurt themselves due to not having the right shoes and underestimated the rock’s surface texture.
I make it safe and sound and I immediately submerge myself into the cold bulging flow of the river. The coolness of the water brings youthfulness back to my skin and although I am cold my body feels more refreshed than ever before.  There are many pools of water to enjoy and at different heights some closer to the mouth of the fall which means more rock climbing however, the lower pools are moderate in rock climbing and so water proof shoes are recommended if this is your first time. 

There are rocks all over from very small rocks at the floor of the river pools to massive rocks at every location shaping the variety of swimming pools. I shouting “OH, OH”, because the water is really cold, but it feels so good so all I can do is allow some of the coldness to come out in my voice.  I take a break from the river by finding a nice rock to sit and enjoy the sun’s heat and look up and view the forestry of trees shielding the entrance of this oasis. Just another cool place to mediate and allow the stresses of life to leave you for a moment as you rejuvenate and feel mental clarity making you well both mentally and physically.  

Once my body is fully satisfied with the cold water, I know cross a few rocks and make me way to the warm sulphur pools. The warm pools have called me to be healed. I believe these pools should be called healing pools, because I do feel healing taking place.  I observed the way the plants and trees have organically made their homes in harmony with their rock friends and feels so surreal.  Luxury resorts spend millions of dollars to recreate  these warm pools and import plants and flowers to attempt to meet nature’s ultimate standard. I wish every person could experience the powers of these water.  I find a nice rock to rest my head on as I lay under the warm of the sulphur. I close my eyes and for a moment I feel eternal peace flowing all over my body.  My body is healed for the day. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wotton Waven's Hot Springs- Day 10

It is said that Wotton Waven is the center of hot sulphur springs in Dominica, and there are a few commercial locations available for the visitor or resident to enjoy the hot mineral pools. The spot chosen today is Tia’s Bamboo Cottages and Sulphur pools.  Tia established the first commercial hot pools in Wotton Waven and  since that humble beginning has built  5 cottages from local resources that can comfortable accommodate 14 persons. 

Tia offers two private hot pools that are fully enclosed so whether it’s raining or shining you have protection or if you just want to have  private time with your significant other this is a great option.  I have chosen the private pool, because it is the closest to the entrance of Tia’s bar.  I have been anticipating the healing powers of the mineral pool since I arrived to Dominica, it is truly one of the places that every visitor must experience. As  I emerge myself into the steaming hot pools, my feet begin to send to messages to my brain to adjust the rest of my body’s temperature to the 100 degrees plus pool of water.  The tension in my muscles begins to relax as the heat of the springs penetrate every pore of my system which also allows an authentic detoxification to take place.  Every 15 minutes I alternate from soaking to sitting outside of the pool. It is medically recommended that you are not in the hot pools for more than 15 minutes at a time. 

So as I alternate, it is hard not to meditate on the simple delights of nature and allow the heat to release the stresses of the day away.  If food was served inside of the private pools, I may find myself staying  in the hot water all day due to the therapy being given to me. One way to conclude a hot sulphur bath is to immediately hydrate your body with water and schedule a message at Glam Experience to put the icing on the cake. This is truly the most natural medication for a good night sleep. The pools are also excellent for muscle pain incurred from hiking on the island. The cool thing about Wotton Waven is its’ short distance to Roseau within 2 miles to be more precise. The bus fare is $3 EC. Tia’s landscapes are relaxing and calming to the spirit and truly aid in total body wellness.  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Dominica-Day 9

In Dominica, listening to radio discussions provide a vital source of information about current events, politics, and   local news. One of the most highly listened to programs is the morning radio talk show "Hot Seat" hosted by Matt Pelter. Most Dominicans start their day with the latest hot topic and the program allows listeners to call in and provide their opinions.  This morning VF Inc and I worked to promote their upcoming 5-Day Youth Series entitled : "Empowering our Youth for a Better Tomorrow".   This series is facilitated by  professionals who are volunteering their time and knowledge to help share their insight on the keys and guiding principals needed to have a satisfying life. I throughly enjoy playing a part in developing and mentoring the minds of tomorrow; there is no greater joy than when you give back your expertise to someone who may be in need. 

For lunch today, I venture to a new barbeque  (BBQ) spot in Roseau called Jerk International Restaurant. I ordered the jerk chicken and it was really spicy. Jerk International  offers the visitor an international experience by creating a world class eating environment with gourmet cuisine. 

Later in the afternoon, a whale watching tour is scheduled to observe a truly extraordinary experience. Anytime, I step on a boat the spirit of freedom possesses by body immediately. There are no constraints around and you can turn in whatever direction you desire. There are of course coast guard boundaries and international maritime laws that must be obeyed, but overall the sea holds some important keys when it comes to freedom. 

The tour is to depart from Castle Comfort Lodges where Dive Dominica has its main office. As we leave the Dominican shore to venture some 5 to 6 miles to sea in search of spotting a whale, a overwhelming sense of serenity passes over me. A voice speaks to me through the racing winds, and tells me that this is my Dominica. I feel the urge to reach out and touch its high mountain tops so as to nurture them to grow even taller for all of the Caribbean to see. The image that sits in front of me is beyond words to me, it is more than beautiful, or  spectacular, or wonderful. It is what I wish many others in the world could see and then feel the natural power of this magical place.   

For hours I could sail on a boat around the island and spend years admiring her extraordinary body. I could imagine freedom as its prime and see the delightful smiles of the many people that have flocked to her natural healing power.  Nature speaks here freely with complete power and extreme passion. The energy allows me to float from my current state of mind to a higher spiritual creature. I know begin to understand the words of Stephen Covey, when he says that we are human beings having a spiritual experience. While on the ocean, I am in tune more with my spiritual being because there are less distractions used to focus on the physical needs as oppose to the spiritual needs. I am in a daze as we race across the waves. With the assistance of an underwater microphone, the captain is able to pinpoint the sounds of whales talking. After 2 hours of searching several locations, we finally have spotted a sperm whale. Everyone is excited and they quickly pull out their cameras to catch a glimpse of the massive sperm whale. I, however am happy to just to be here observing this magnificent being. This is one of the most amazing experiences of this day.                                      

Rudy a professional underwater photography relates his experience in Dominica. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Relax & Chill -Day 8

After a week in Dominica, I need a little pampering. When I want a pedicure, message, facial, or waxing services I always go to the Glam Experience. The Glam is for glamorous and they truly live up to their name. Today, I wanted a pedicure, because in Dominica you do a lot of walking and your feet will truly need some tender loving care. Today my nail technician is Sherry-Ann of Trinidad.   While listening to soothing music, the feet pampering experience begins. I have had many pedicures before but this one is especially relaxing. Sherry-Ann takes her time in exfoliating my dead skin cells and rubs my feet at three different intervals with this special creamy foot scrub. I caught myself falling asleep at least 3 times. My feet feel so brand new so much so that I do not want to walk on them.  I am told to relax myself and that there is no need for me to rush. The Glam experience lead by head skin care consultant Lillian Piper has offered Dominican residents and visitors their glamorous services for over two years now.  The pedicures at Glam Experience are First Class. If you visit, you will not be disappointed. 

Another cool place that I like to hang out is Pizza Palace. It is located right on River Bank and very close to the Portsmouth, Salisbury, and Canefield bus stops. 

They are open 6 days week from 7 am until 11 pm.  Pizza Palace offers pizza, roti, bakes, breakfast sandwiches, lunch specials, and many different types of drinks.  I love the fact that they are located right on the edge of the Roseau River so you can have a nice meal and enjoy the calming sounds of the river.  The staff is very friend and their morning cook John prepares the best peleau which is a rice based dish that many Dominicans love to eat for lunch. The vibes are always cool in this very popular place and the staff is always willing to offer directions if you ever loss your way. 
Another evening option in Roseau is Kandiz Hot Dog Stand located on King George Street directly across from the Digicel Customer Center. They offer hot dogs with every topping imaginable plus drinks and fresh local juices always. You can just relax on the sitting bench and met many of the local people making their nightly spot for the best hot dogs in Roseau. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Beach for Everyone-Day 7

In the late afternoon, I leisurely stroll down to Mero Beach. Life and energy are pulsating as young people and families dash in and out of the sea. The beach offers visitors and residents dark black volcanic sand that is being used to rub away all of my dead skin. It feels so much more therapeutic than the traditional white sand found on most beaches.The darkness of the sand feels so much more nourishing to my skin. So I will overly indulge in the healing powers of this volcanic sand. The waves motions are so gentle thus making it very easy to swim freely with no worry of a wave overtaking you.

The Beach front offers a few restaurants which are heavily populated by the locals of the village and of neighboring villagers wanting to be refreshed with their traditional Sunday sea bathe.
The beach is shared by a few simple homes which require little maintenance. These building structures may appear by the untrained eye as little shacks but those walls are home to those dwelling within them. They are inviting because, they tell me that all are welcomed here. There are no class divisions just a great open space that is to be shared by all those wishing to indulge in the pleasures that only the sea could provide. I was able to meet many people on the roadside and everyone greeted me with a welcoming smile and a "Good Afternoon".

Everyone is welcome to Mero Beach, no class distinctions nor high rise hotels to separate you from enjoying the sea. I actually feel like I am the only tourist on the beach. The reason is because this does not feel like a public beach, but rather a community beach. The Mero "community" beach is an integral part of the lives of everyone in the village. I can feel the history that resonates from the black sand bank. I feel privileged that I was able to enjoy a recharging sea bathe at a beach in which everyone is welcomed.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dominica Dive Fest- Day 6

Dive fest is Dominica’s premier introduction to the variety of water based activities available on the island. Dominica is currently listed as the top diving destination for small animal encounters.  I participated in their Annual Wine Tasting Cruise that offers participants samples of 6 wines while cruising along the southeastern shore of Dominica. We departed from Roseau at 6 in the evening to cruise to Scott’s Head and back.   The natural elements aligned themselves this evening to provide the perfect climate to take an evening stroll on the Caribbean Sea.  It was truly surreal as the boat slowly sailed from the port of Roseau. It felt as if we were embarking on a new adventure. The boat accommodated about 85 persons which made it more intimate like you were among friends going on a sail. Everyone bubble with excitement as views of the dramatic heights of green landscapes gave more grandness to the occasion. You could tell that everyone was anticipating having a good time.                                                                       

Friday, July 15, 2011

More Reasons to Love Dominica-Day 5

At times I am mesmerized by the majestic mountain tops of Dominica. They represent grace and strength  to me, because their appearance is simple in design but they are unmovable once they have taken their stand. I am inspired to think higher every time that I see them. From the Roseau Bay, it is very easy to see the coastline of Dominica's magical mountains. 

As I walk through town to shop for a few personal items. I stop for a refreshing juice smoothie at JB's Juice Man Stand. For about 12 years, JB has operated his fruit juice stand at the Old Market Square near the Roseau Bay Front. He is from Pottsville and as a youth he helped prepare  a variety of juices for his mother's restaurant. He then moved to the Virgin Islands where he helped his friend run a juice shop on the beach. This was the first time he had used a blender to mixed the fruits and he took that knowledge back to Dominica.  His spot is very close to the port of call and thus very popular among cruise ship passengers. He can always be spotted with a big smile as he works hard to prepare his delicious fruits smoothies.

JB's future plans include opening up the JUICE MAN RESTAURANT in October of this year just before the Annual World Creole Music Festival. 

The World Creole Music festival is an annual festival that aims to highlight the indigenous musicians of the Caribbean Region. This year marks the 15th Anniversary of the highly anticipated event. On Thursday, a special launching event for the World Creole Music Festival was held at Krazy Kokonuts and the line up of artists included:

Friday 28th October: Cool Bass, Ali Campbell – The legendary voice of UB40 , Jeff Joseph and Grammacks Fame, and WCK.
Saturday 29th October: Kassav, Third World, Jean-Phillipe Marthely and Joceline Beroard supported by Band a Pipo, Carimi and Midnight Groovers.
Sunday 30th October: Swinging Stars, Gyptian, Bunji Garlyn & Faye-Ann Lyons, Alex Catherine, Jocelyne and Triple K Global.

It was announced at the launching that the music festival would cost about $4 million and that the Festival Commission would still need an additional $1 million of in-kind donations in order to meet the budgetary needs of the event. I was surprise to hear that the commission has only been profitable 2 of the 14 years the festival has been in effect. Yet, despite profitability the show must go on.  The festival is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to experience an integral part of Dominican culture which is its music.

Moonlit Skies- Day 4

In the middle of the night, the moon calls me to the front porch of my home.  In the darkness of the night, the whiteness of the full moon beams brightly so that a light glow flows gently over the trees, plants, and mountain tops. The sea has now been clothed with a shine made from the reflection of the moon.  In the quietness of the night the waves of Mero Beach can be heard gently crushing along the shoreline. There is peace and serenity floating all through the air waves tonight. I hear crickets, grasshoppers and my other little insect friends speaking soothingly to one another. Grace and calmness are now residing deep inside my soul because of the wonderful gift of the moon being observed over the village of Mero.

  I wonder to myself how many people have ever really had the opportunity to observe the moon, because it is hard to see when many lights are generated from commercial and residential areas. Or how many have seen the moon when it is on main stage leading the orchestra of insects residing below its radiance.  I wonder if people really ever stop and appreciate the magnificent of the moon.  For centuries the moon was the focal point for keeping track of the year and it still gives off the required energy that produces the tides of the sea.        

Thursday, July 14, 2011

8 Miles towards Wellness-Day 3

This morning the rains are at work cleansing and refreshing the west coast of Dominica. I left rain in Mero to meet rain in Roseau, but the rain always brings a fresh cool breeze that is always welcomed by the peoples of the land. So the rain gives me another reason to rest in the softness of my bed. The rushing winds provided by the rain fill my home and create the ideal Caribbean temperature. In Roseau, I desire a simple but filling lunch. So Pearl's Cuisine is the ideal choice today. I love their soups with lightly buttered toasted bread. Pumpkin soup is the main course with a fresh fruit salad for the price of $18.50EC which is about $7USD. They offer high quality food at very economical prices.

In the afternoon, my friend Roy has invited me to exercise with him. I agree thinking to myself that we will be taking a short 45 minute walk in one of the nearby villages. So he drives us the gate of the Botanical Gardens, and parks his vehicle. He gets out and stretches for a few minutes and then begins walking. While trying to catch up behind him, I shout, " Where are we going?". He replies,"Trafalgar". I say,"You must be crazy". He says, "Stop being so lazy. Let's go!" I know that Trafalgar is 4 miles from Roseau and it is not a straight nor flat road to that village. But I keep walking thinking to myself that he is not really serious about walking all the way there. So we walk, and  walk, and walk, and walk, and did I say walk. I am trying to keep up with him, but his power walk is longer than mine. But I don't stop nor do I stop to take a rest. On the way, the breeze of the evening is offering a relief to my overheating body. I hear the birds soothing me mentally as I keep moving towards the goal. I keep my own pace and try to keep my mind focused on catching up with Roy.
We finally make it to the last steep hill before the village of Trafalgar. Roy asks, "Do you think you can make it up this last hill?". I say, "I can try". And that's just what I do, but this hill is trying to stop me. There are pains in every part of my body as I walk slow but with great energy to make it to the top. You can do it, keep moving are the words that keep motivating me to keep making progress. Finally, the goal is reached. Breathing hard and holding my hands above my head to help stabilize my body. I can't believe that I made it. It made me realize how we as humans often doubt our true potential, but we need friends to encourage us to keep pushing on even when it hurts. After a few minutes at the top, the pain is no longer there. I am ready now to race down the hill. So we start running, and for the first time I am in front  of Roy and it feels good. It's like I just got a second wind from out of nowhere. We spot a source of fresh water coming out of a rock along the main road. We are truly refreshed as the water rejuvenates our weary bodies.   After 1 hour and 45 minutes, we make it back to the gate of the Botanical Gardens and my clothing is literally quenched in sweat. I made it ..I powered walked the whole 8 miles and the positive feelings gain from the experience are  encouraging to go further the next time.

Only in Dominica can you exercise in the mist of high mountains, rushing rivers, and truly fresh air. I feel like a new woman today and I look forward to doing it again real soon.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Much to Do in Roseau- Day 2

Around 5:30 am, the sun’s radiant rays awaken me to another day in Dominica. I will be making my way to Roseau, the capital of Dominica to exchange my US dollars for Eastern Caribbean dollars, purchase some groceries, and visit some old friends.  As I make my way to the bus stop on the main road, my neighbor Philip asks me what my destination is today. I reply, “Roseau”. He offers to give me a lift to town.  During our drive, he relates his life in London. Philip at the age of 18 left Dominica on a boat to London which was at that time the only available transportation. He worked for 33 years and retired back to his home country Dominica. He has been back for 18 years now and is enjoying every moment of it with his wife. He has plenty of mangos and avocados growing in his yard and invites me to come back to pick as many as I like. I indeed intend to take him up on his offer. That’s Dominica hospitality for you!
I brought some sandals from America with me that had a broken strap. Usually in America, we throw away shoes when a strap is broken due to the high cost to get it fixed. But in Dominica, it is very economical to get your shoes repaired. I like to visit Franks Shoe Repair. He is located right on King George the V Street and for $4EC about $1.50US my strap was repaired and my shoes are ready to be worn again. So if you have a shoe you want repaired or something happens to your shoes while you are on a visit then Frank’s the place to get it fixed quick and fast.

On making it to town, I take a moment to attend the Caribbean Spa & Wellness Association Symposium taking place at the Ft. Young Hotel. The organization just received $80 million dollars to help brand the Caribbean as a Health & Wellness Destination.  The presentations were very enlightening as the President of the Thai Spa Association discussed how they were able to brand Thailand at a Spa & Wellness Destination. Also the up and coming Six Senses Resort & Spa which will be coming in 2014 in Woodford hill, Dominica was discussed. Some of the reasons why Six Senses choose Dominica are unspoiled island, secluded natural site, eco-friendly environment, and has significant further potential. The spa will be 12,000 square feet. Personally, I plan on being one of their first guests as I am an avid spa goer. Spa’s promote overall good health by focusing on revitalizing our greatest asset, our body.  There are many opportunities awaiting Dominica when people start to learn of the many healing powers that this country naturally possesses.  The Symposium only helped to further confirmed my vision for Dominica. Representatives throughout the Caribbean gathered to be informed as to what steps need to be taken to move the Caribbean forward to being a Health & Wellness Destination.

In the afternoon, the Market is where fresh produce can be purchased.  I love buying fresh produce from farmers.  And every Saturday at about 6 am the whole Market is filled to capacity as villages make their way from all parts of the island to purchase and sell their fresh produce. It is also a great time to negotiate pricing as there is more competition and thus more options for your dollar. Avocados, papaya, watermelon, cabbage, bell peppers, hot peppers, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, tamarind, passion fruit, onions, bananas, and much more.  I have chosen to buy my produce from Merlyn, Francis, and Claudette today located at Dexia #6. They have taken the extra time to help me select the best fruits and vegetables for the day and everything is done with a genuine smile.
One thing Dominica has plenty of is fruit. Fruit juices are available at almost every restaurant. But there is even a juice man that makes fresh juice each and every day. His name is Simon “the Juice Man”. He sells a 12 oz. cup for $5EC which is about $2US. And you can even get at 32 oz. for $14EC which is about $5 - $6 US. Simon also was a chief in Paris and makes these vegetable filled patties. The patty with the passion fruit juice is a great snack before dinner, tonight.  

I am going to catch a bus home now and prepare my evening meal and enjoy my well -deserved sleep from my day in Roseau. Let the sun sets on an ending of a  another extraordinary day.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Escape to the Old World-Day 1

In route to Dominica, I decided to spend a few days in Barbados. In Barbados, I felt as if I had never really left America. There were many modern conveniences readily available for consumption. Everyone moving rapidly up and down the highways, and at night the lights from the island truly offered the visitor spectacular views.  It was a refreshing experience, but something was missing.  

When landing at the Melville Hall Airport in Dominica today, the void was finally filled. The beginning of a more authentic retreat began its formation from the first look at the massive green mountain tops gracefully positioned below the LIAT airplane making its way to land. It is green everywhere, and this makes landing at the Dominica airport one of the most memorable landing experiences. Unlike most  airports which are largely flat areas with concrete surrounding , this one is unique because it is surrounded by mountains, it sits literally on the edge of the Atlantic ocean, and is besides the Melville River which flows just a few short steps from the airport’s front door. 

 Every time I land on this mystical island, I feel like I have escape to the Old World. It is the place where what is modern is left behind and a return to the bare essentials in life is brought to the forefront.  There a few places on this earth where you can truly escape the New World and return to the beauty and simplicity of the Old World.  
On exiting the customs door of the airport, Casual of Augustine Taxi Services meets me to take me to my home. Casual proceeds to provide a scenic drive of the north portion of Dominica which included driving through the villages of Wesley, Calibishie, Portsmouth, Salisbury, and all the way to my village home Mero.  

The ride was slow and deliberate. The van was cruising at 15 mph. With the sounds of classical music in one ear and the sweet melodies of nature’s breeze in the other ear.  I was now home and the peace of mind that only nature can provide began to consume me thus slowly filling the missing piece needed for my retreat. As we drove through the narrow but inviting main road to Mero, Casual bunks his horn to say hello to people he knows along the way. He stops a few times to exchange kind words to a neighbor and gives dap to a few friends too. There is no rush to get to our destination. Just going with nature’s flow and allowing time for the soothing environment to really be absorbed mentally. 

The video below is just a quick glance at my ride to Mero.

 A 3 bedroom apartment awaits me in Mero and for the price of $500; I have my own private hideaway from the world for three weeks. Here are few  images of my  rental home.