Caribbean Stories - Dominica Discovery
Dominica Discovery; an alternative lifestyle
Hollywood was here with Johnny Depp and his Pirates of the Caribbean, but hardly a footprint remains of the cast and the crew. Dominica changes slowly, The island moves with a contented crowd, 70,000 inhabitants who choose the simple life. When you visit Dominica you are stepping back in time. It has changed little in 50 years.
The hotels are different; there are jungle huts and natural sulpher spring spas along with a few luxury boutique hotels. What strikes you are the colorful and eccentric people who have chosen to build and manage hotels here. Several are retired Americans and Europeans who are in Dominica because it is so alternative. They are alternative. They are bright, articulate and fun people who just wanted to get out of the rat race. I met one hotel owner who was delighted that tourism was down as he could spend more time building his hiker huts and enjoying days out in the open, contemplating and building under the waterfalls and mountains.
The island is about discovery, about discovering nature, a wilderness of healing, creole cuisine, natural springs, volcanoes, rivers and rain-forests, exceptional people and having the time to contemplate and discover your own place in the universe. All is possible in this laid back land where nature rules.
Dinner at the River Rock cafe was an example of just how laid back things can be: "What do you want to eat?" they asked when I rang to make a reservation; that was after the "YOO!" that answered the call. I thought I might have the wrong number but this was Dominica, nothing is the same. "What have you got?" I asked. "Herbs and food" was the reply. We settled on a curry and a shrimp creole. It was cooked to order with fresh herbs straight out of their own garden. Garden might be too strong a word: it was a mountain side of wild flowers, bush, grass and herbs. The herbs were exceptional and the food was full of flavor in a most unusual ambiance overlook a river valley under a towering mountain. There is no menu, it is all improvised.
A Generous warm, hospitible and inventive people
When you buy something from a street vendor in Dominica, chances are that they will give you something more that you bargained for. Like the lady who sold advocados for a dollar each, but gave me two because she said one was not enough for two people and she wanted us to enjoy it fully. Sometime I notice that those who have least are the most generous. Maybe it because they have less attachment and they are accustomed to sharing.
When I was at the Titiwee BBQ an old man with a gold and tan complexion and blue eyes took my hand and kissed it. "Thank you", he said. "Thank you for taking your time to come here and work with us". Felix the taxi mogul who arranged for Papa to drive us around the country, took time out to drive us to a meeting at no charge. Months later he heard I was in the island and phones the hotel to remind me he owned me a trip - to visit some spots we had rather skipped over on our first visit.
When I twisted my ankle and walked with a limp to a seminar podium, I was brought a cane and someone arranged for me to see a healer who did wonders for my ankle and suggested I get my back seen to when I got home.
It's like that in Dominica, people care about each other and are interested in how and who you are.
Colour and Character
Dominica is Colour. The sea with many shades of monochrome blues and gray creates a painter's landscape that is totally unique. The landscape is pink, red, yellow, blue and white on a carpet of green and brown. The town is painted in bright greens, reds and blues; Strong colors that insist you notice, but they are never gaudy, and sit in perfect balance. Even the wildly-coloured fishing boats are in harmony sitting on their canvasses of gray and silver sand, the green-blue, gray-white sea and sky. There is something extraordinary about the way the colours blend. The boats on the beaches, and those anchored in the shallow waters, are painted with personality, each individual, yet complementary. They say much about the style of the place and its people. The entire Island seems at times to be symphony of colour in perfect harmony.
There are many places with bright and vibrant colors, but often they fight and clash with each other. But it is not so in Dominica. Do they all use the same artist, I wondered. Have they been to the same school of art; is art and painting taught like this in all schools? Perhaps there is just one artist doing all this work. Then who is his or her teacher? I decided to accept that Mother Nature is the teacher and the divine artist here. In the "nature Island" everyone is an artist working with the same pallet, fitting in rather than standing out.
Fitting in rather than standing out. It is a phrase that suites the Dominican temperament. Although they are independent and different, the sense of a community is not left behind. It was what I noticed at the Carib Village and from articles written about Dominica and its people. They may not have always been this way, but perhaps centuries of battles have made them weary of strife, and they have always had a great respect for nature. They are people of nature and nature just IS as people sometimes just ARE: content with being close to the earth and one with all. Being is a possession of observing, going with the flow, accepting and fitting in rather than standing out. Dominicans fit in with styles.
Dominica Story Part 1
Dominica Story part 2
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