Last year I got the pleasure of visiting my grandmother’s home country of Dominica, formally titled The Commonwealth of Dominica (Not to be confused with The Republic of Dominica which is a completely different country).
I’m going to walk you through my experience A to Z.
First, we left from Fort Lauderdale airport pretty early to fly to Barbados.
Getting To The Nature Island…
There are no direct flights from The United States to Dominica. The best stop to get to Dominica, according to granny, is Barbados. Although you can go to Puerto Rico or Antigua as well to catch a Liat, which is a small Caribbean airline company, to Dominica.
There are several other big airports on the islands that go to Dominica as well. But I enjoyed our short trip from Barbados which was only about an hour long. The view as we approached the island was quite a treat with the red sand, and all the trees and mountains. The airport is small, and an old friend of mine that went there joked to me saying that our airport looked like a house (lol not funny). But it is true, the airport is rather small in comparison to the large airports of the major cities in the U.S. Keep in Mind that Dominica is an island of approximately 74,000 people. Dominica’s claim to fame in the isles is being “the Nature Island” not the large tourist island, and what you see is what you get.
Speaking of Nature…
Dominica is home to plants and animals you simply won’t find anywhere on this Earth. On the very flag of Dominica there is the national bird of Dominica, the Sisserou Parrot, only found in Dominica. It’s actually purple and green! I have never seen one in real life, and actually don’t care for birds to much. But I would love to take photos of it when I return someday. Bird watching is actually quite common in some of the waterfall areas of Dominica, as there is much to see! Not to mention the natural waterfalls and rainforests, beaches, and there is LITERALLY a beach for every day of the year on this island.
I suggest you see Champagne Reef if you like underwater activities like snorkling. Then find your way to the Emerald Pool a natural pool with a waterfall, where I fell and bust my butt personally lol. I would also advice you pay a guide to take you on a bus ride through the hills, but beware the drive is NOT a smooth one, lots of hills and dips unlike the paved city streets of the U.S. But see some beaches, and Dominica’s botanical gardens, you may even catch some kids playing cricket nearby.
For the Foodies!
Dominica is an island country and that means NO FAST FOOD. Although there are supermarkets and restaurants, understand that the island nature is slow and steady. although there is a KFC by the bay! A lot of people on the island actually grow their own food if they have land. No rush for anything and that includes the food, people take their time and cook and don’t hesitate to help the little sistahs on the street selling fresh juice, Passionfruit juice from scratch is my weakness after leaving Roseau, the city’s capital. I also had the liberty of trying a fish broth from a little shop in the city which was very nice and I tried some different fish and vegetables than I ever had in the states.
Dominica is well known in the Caribbean for it’s distinct Indian culture. The Kalinago are the main indigenous tribe of the island and Queen Victoria of England upon her rule gave The Carib Indians a land of their own to habitat on the island, hence the name. If you stroll through you will see lots of goods to buy and bring home, handmade from the Kalinago themself. I personally stocked up on authentic oils and some conversation starter pieces for my place and things for my family. Other then in the Carib territory there are many tourist shops near the bay by the capital, just ask around.
For The Culture..
Dominica is a historically Creole island and you can tell in the names of many streets and landmarks. Though I didn’t hear much creole spoken by Dominicans themselves. The language is apparently dying out amongst the younger generation so they are trying to keep the culture alive through some local tv stations and of course the old heads. When my grandmother was growing up she tells me French was more of the formal language spoken in school as opposed to English now. So don’t worry about anyone not understanding you if you are from the U.S.
Little Island Lessons… and help after Hurricane Maria
The vibe of the island is very different from the U.S. and I realized how luxuriously I lived in comparison to many things I saw there. We are very privileged in our ways of life and even our recovery times from natural disasters. While there I saw that Dominica was still recovering from storm’s that passed, rebuilding bridges and paving roads. But my new love for the island especially evoked emotion after seeing the publicized devastation of a category 5 Hurricane Maria hitting the island. Not a piece of the island didn’t get touched by Maria and people lost their lives, families, and homes very rapidly in the storm. As of now a lot is still going on to recover as the storm was a mere week ago or so.
The lessons on appreciating and valuing what I have continue to be learned. Being distraught thinking about the terrible road to recovery they will have, I have packaged a few boxes of goods to be sent to Dominica and encourage anyone who can to help. There is a growing Amazon wishlist that the DARDA organization has been having people buy things to send to the island. For more information on other ways to help feel free to see the link in this post or contact me belle@TheRichAunt.Com.
I have no doubts with prayer and care the island will recover to its glory and be a place a few readers may like to see. Until then, Bonswa!