Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dominica, Paradise?

This flag of the Commonwealth of Dominica features one of two parrots that live in the rain forests of this tree clad mountainous island.  We are staying here at Soufriere, the southern village on the leeward (west) side.  
 There are sulphur springs with pools to bath in and on the shore there are hot springs seeping into the sea on the edge of the beach. Bubble Beach just below the church has a small natural spa by damning up the hot water coming out of these springs and letting it mix with the sea water where you can sit and soak. The nearer you sit to the spring the hotter the soak.  Too hot, just ease toward the sea.  We went snorkeling and found out why it's called Bubble Beach. Pea sized bubbles wobble their way to the surface as the gases are released from the ocean floor sparkling like liquid diamonds.  

Bubble Beach Spa

View from our veranda
We had a lovely Valentine's dinner last night at Cocoyeah! Fried Red Snapper with pan sauce ( to die for ) and rice/veggies, provisions finished off with fancy icy cream dish.  Wine selection wasn't great so I had a good glass of local guava juice.  It was romantic, al fresco dining inside the stone walls of an old fort or colonial structure. After dinner we went to 'hang' with some fellow visitors we had met on the island: Michael a mycologist/botanist/sustainable farmer from northern Florida, who sold me his travel binoculars cheap since he is leaving tomorrow after a month backpacking around this island; Bjorn and Laura, Danish backpackers sharing a house with a couple of young travelling German women. And also at the gathering were Derek the twenty something Dive master, Jayni, also a Dominican diver and finally John, a Brit who is managing a small eco-resort here and who is a Free Diver.  I picked his brain about that after folks talked about his death wish.  He does seem to be attracted to risky occupations as he worked on a snake farm in Africa with many poisonous snakes including the Black Mambo. Trivia: you can swallow the venom and if you have no ulcers , the venom won't harm you.  Free Diving is the sport of diving to depths while holding your breath, without dive tanks etc.  John can hold his breath for over three minutes and has dove to 240 feet of depth.  He talked about the body's challenges and how to do it. He said that when you relax and push past the initial urge to draw a breath, the urge subsides and if you can equalize under the pressure of the depth, you can stay down longer.  My only exposure to Free Diving was an article many years ago about a competitive Free Diver who died by pushing beyond what is reasonable.  John said her practises of assisted submersion (with weights or a motorized device) are no longer used.  In some ways it is safer than scuba because there is no need for decompression stops on the way up and no build up of nitrogen. 

The jam last night was pretty funny as Bjorn and Yata made lyrics about John the Deathwish Diver and Derek the 3D diver; Derek the Dominican Diver.

Roseau is the capital of the island and only about fifteen minutes away, up the coast.  We took a bus/van in on Monday to stock up on groceries and get the lay of the land.  It's classic small, old Caribbean style with some of the older structures draped with hundreds of electric cables.  We found
 a nice little lunch place after asking a local young man for his recommenations. Gouyae, a lunch counter that was serving Corn-crusted Mahi Mahi with rice and provisions.  Excellent!  So good we ordered an extra serving of Mahi for only $3!  Groceries here are quite high priced.  While Antigua had subsidized chicken, this island doesn't seem to offer that but it has more access to seafood. So we've already had great fresh from the sea meals.  No great meals from our home kitchen. Although the pictures on the AirBnB listing made the kitchen look as if it was going to be a chef's dream, instead it is one of the most poorly equipped kitchens I've ever used. No blender, masher; bad pans, etc.   Oh well, that forces some creativity.  While in Roseau we found the local vegetable market and bought amongst other things, a bunch of passion fruit.  This yellow/red fruit opens to find an orange tangy pulp surrounding small edible seeds.  It's tart and needs a bit of sweetening but is a great flavor.  I'll have to see what more I can do with it other than putting some on our yogurt for breakfast.

We plan on doing more snorkeling while we are here and some hiking. There is a hiking trail that traverses the island from this southwest corner to the northeast corner and goes through the Kalinago Territory which is where the last living native Caribbeans live.  Bjorn hiked through that area and said what should have taken six hours took two days because 'people kept giving  us things'. They were very friendly and generous apparently. Derek said they are friendly to tourists but don't like the native Dominicans.  Hmmm, I'm sure there is some history behind that.  I'd like to hike this area and meet these people.  Apparently they look more like south and central Americans indigenous people, the Maya, Aztec, and such.

Oh, and is this paradise? Pretty close. Perfect climate if you like mostly warm and sunny (we do). Lush land with an abundance of free food; plants and seafood. Little or no mosquitoes!  No poisonous or dangerous animals or reptiles.

We are here for a few more weeks and should experience Carnival here. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing trip already. Nice thoughts to be daydreaming on while I'm at my desk...Love, Ronna