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Roseau, Dominica

November 16, 2010

Roseau, Dominica

The ship anchored at 8 a.m. in the Roseau, Dominica harbor. Our schedule was similar to the previous days in that we woke early, showered and went to breakfast. I was never quite sure why we showered at the beginning of the day because as soon as we left the air-conditioned comfort of the ship, we were drenched with sweat. The weather was hot and humid—it was no surprise that all the islands we visited had a rainforest.

Dominica (pronounced Doe-min-eek-a) was the poorest island we visited in the West Indies. It is the largest island and the most northern windward island. It is located between Guadeloupe and Martinique. Previously the people grew sugar cane for export, but with the rise in high fructose corn syrup usage, sugar was no longer grown. I won’t go into the politics of cane sugar versus corn syrup, but I will say that although I’ve seen many sugar cane fields, I have NEVER seen a high fructose corn syrup field, so I’ll let you decide which sweetener is natural. The inhabitants of Dominica now rely on tourism as their main source of money. But some of the cruise lines were now avoiding Dominica because they said the island was too far away and the cost of fuel too great. The reduction in tourists from the cruise ships is hurting the island’s economy.

As we walked down the pier heading for Roseau we noted a long line of cabbies vying for rides. As we walked through the checkpoint a swarm of cabbies approached and began shouting. The din was so loud, I couldn’t hear anything, but then a man dressed in red complete with a red and silver fedora approached saying that he drove the astronaut Buzz Aldrin and that he had a picture in his cab. For whatever reason we chose to ride with him. His name is Pablo.

Pablo from the back

Other than the natural beauty, there is little see on Dominica. Celebrity offered excursions, but they all had to do with the natural beauty such as hiking the rain forest or river tubing. Roseau hosts a museum, cathedral, and public market. The main historical attraction in Roseau is “The Cabrits” a military installation. Fort Shirley is located within the Cabrits.

Pablo opted to drive us around the island rather than take us through Roseau. He drove north toward St. Joseph. En route he pointed out a fallen mahogany. Residents were cutting it up to sell. It is illegal to harvest mahogany, but if one falls, the wood can be sold.

Fallen Mahogany Tree

We stopped at Trafalgar Falls and spent about half an hour enjoying the stunning beauty. Our group could not find Pablo and we were getting worried. I found him in a small outdoor dining area. “I’m having breakfast,” he said. He finished his breakfast of fish and fruit and we all hopped into the van to proceed to the other side of the island to see Sulphur Springs near Wotten Waven.

Vendors near Trafalgar Falls

Sulphur Springs

The roads were narrow and we had to stop if another car was approaching. At one point on the road, a man was standing with a large boa constrictor draped around his neck like a, well, boa. He was asking people to give him money to take a picture of him with the snake.  Pablo stopped the car, but we didn’t want to take a picture—unusual though it may have been. We then headed back to Roseau.

Mike and Dave asked Pablo where he had gotten his red and silver fedora. Pablo pointed out the store down a street, but the city is so over crowded that we never found the store once he left us off at the pier. The traffic was heavy and it took us quite a bit of time to make it through the city streets.

Roseau Street

At one stop, I noted a beautiful young girl staring out the open window. Behind her in the silhouette, an older person was sitting. I snapped a picture and the little girl smiled—a touching memory of the beautiful Dominica.

Little Girl in Window

Tomorrow—Grenada and the spices they grow.


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