How can you not love the original name of Dominica? The Amerindian settlers, who called themselves Kalinago, and were later labeled Caribs by European colonizers, gave the land a name fitting her grand form. She does make quite the first impression!
The designation, Dominica, derived from Latin for “Sunday”, the day the Europeans first encountered the island, is just boring in comparison. And there is nothing boring about this place.
We had never yet visited a land as lush and verdant, with fruits and vegetables growing in natural abundance everywhere you look. More than one local claimed that no one goes hungry in Dominica. We were moored only an hour before we were approached by “Diamond”, who rowed out to us on a paddle board selling mangoes, bananas, limes, coconuts, nutmeg, and more.
He told us he simply walked into the forest and picked his ware for the day. We soon realized that we could do the same, but we’d rather buy from the residents and support the local economy.
Our mooring in Portsmouth was managed by PAYS, Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security & Services. This group is run by several young men, who provide mooring assistance, tours of the island, security in the harbor, propane refills, beach parties, and more. Their livelihoods depend on cruisers’ willingness to employ their services, and we were happy to oblige. Our guy, Faustin (“Alexis”, as he and his business are known), and his nephew, Fitzroy, took excellent care of us during our too-short stay.
They took us on a tranquil tour of Indian River, which included a pleasant walk through fertile forest land to a farm where all sorts of delicious things grow.
Fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices were all in abundance, and we were given samples as souvenirs. On another day we joined Fitzroy and other cruisers, including friends Tammy & Bruce on s/v Dos Libras, for a land tour.
We visited a chocolate producer, a stunning waterfall, and the Carib Village inside the Kalinago Territory; where descendants of the original settlers still reside, and demonstrate to visitors their ancestors’ way of life.
One of our last days on the island was spent taking a bus to the big town of Roseau, to explore its nearby watery sites. The bus ride was cheap and easy, and in just over an hour we were standing at the base of Trafalgar Falls, two extraordinarily beautiful, side-by-side waterfalls.
Feeling adventurous, and frugal, we made the mistake of not hiring a guide to take us to the top of one, where the promise of a hot sulfur spring baited us into a steep, slippery climb. We were warned to abort at the start of heavy rainfall, so as to not get caught in a flash flood. Halfway up the treacherous route, over enormous, wet, slick boulders it began to pour. Realizing we were in over our heads, because we could not locate the path over the huge rocks to the springs even though we could see them above us, we turned tail and slid our way back down in the deluge. Next time we’re hiring a local!
Arriving at the Papillote Wilderness Retreat soaking wet and shivering in the mountain air, we were given a day pass to soak in their hot mineral spring pools. The hot water was welcoming to our already aching muscles.
After marinating, rewarding ourselves with a couple of cocktails, and enjoying a delicious lunch, we were ready to continue our journey. Donning our still-drenched clothing, we contacted our new friend, Liz, to meet her and her husband downhill at their amazing rain forest guest house, Cocoa Cottages. Liz, a childhood pal of a good New Orleans friend, graciously offered to pick us up. When we realized just how far we would have walked otherwise, we were extremely grateful.
Liz and Richard not only own the eco-lodge, but they run Extreme Dominica, an adventure tour company that we were sorry to have to save enjoying for our next visit. Liz plied us with cocoa tea, chocolate cake, and melt-in-your-mouth coconut sprinkled chocolate, all made from scratch with cocoa grown on their property. We really need more friends like this!
After the bus ride back to Portsmouth, we started prepping for the next leg of our journey south, sorry to leave the land of the tall-bodied lady after only a week, but knowing we’d be back next year to play on her some more. After all of the week’s activities we were eager to get to a place where we could kick back and relax with some cold French rosé and stinky cheese, which we’d woefully understocked in Îles des Saintes. Next up, Martinique!