We heard about you, Dominica. We heard stories… Good stories, sad stories, scary stories, happy stories, and touching stories. Oh… we wanted to meet you bad. This time, however, it was kinda speed dating. In and out, no time for a deep relationship.
Tell us captain how does this Dominica look like? – asked the Queen.
Forgive me, Your Majesty, I cannot find adequate words to describe it – said the captain and threw a crumpled sheet of paper on the table – This is Dominica.
I have to admit – quite spot on! Dominica bumped into Europeans on Sunday, hence the name*, precisely into Chris-Cross Columbus himself. As you can imagine, he didn’t give a damn about the existing name** and probably he or his successors didn’t behave well because Caribs – the locals – sent quite a clear message by pushing Spaniards back to their ships and killing the slow ones! This impressively mountainous island pops up right behind the corner of Martinique and just keeps growing and growing and gets greener and greener with every sailed mile.
*Domenica – Latin for Sunday,
** Waitukubuli meaning „tall is her body”. Just think about it. Who comes to the new place and renames it without asking??? CC, what an arse!
Part 1 – Roseau
After we had our fair dose of sailing activities in the canal between Martinique and Dominica, we arrived in Roseau – the capital city of Dominica. We don’t like capital cities much. Due to the zoo effect*, crime and crowd, in general. But this one felt different. The first thing was the boat boy approaching us far away from the shore. He was just informing us of our options. Not pushy, not aggressive, and not disappointed by us not wanting to buy anything. Soon after we moored at the buoy of famous Mr. Beans. We heard some opinions about his service. Generally not being in line with „customer is always right” or „I want it all, and now”. He is in a way embodiment of the word cool. Imagine Rastaman sitting in the small, brightly painted wooden boat, with some music on, mellow and easy as morning dew. You will get your answers, just be patient! He ain’t selling, man! He is just offering – take it or don’t, it’s fine anyway. I bet it must be annoying to quite a few people! 🙂
Quiet was the first night and boy, this island smells so much better than Martinique! It has this wild and foresty scent mixed with salty water. Warned by the neighbors from another boat we were waiting for hundreds of roosters at 3am – in vain! There was one shy buddy, way too late for sunrise, I guess the party in the chickenhouse was epic! 😉
*zoo effect is when you are anchoring in the middle of the town and people are walking, especially on Sundays, and watching you doing laundry, reading a book, doing your nails, etc. Feels a lot like a monkey in the zoo! BTW not a nice feeling – DO NOT SUPPORT ZOOs, FREEDOM FOR ANIMALS!!!!! Might seem funny, but zoos and any facilities imprisoning animals for people’s entertainment are so bad in so many ways, just think about it and don’t give yourself the comfort of not knowing! Teach your kids good things, wanna show them animals – go travel, if you can’t – google is definitely less cruel solution.PEACE!:)
What goes up – should come down, at least in theory…
In Dominica, you can choose a hike. There are probably 10 000 options. Basically, all options include climbing (remember the crumpled piece of paper? – it is almost 1500m above sea level! And from 0 to hero – up you go!). After quite a long hike to Mount Pelee, together with our new friends from Kairos5, we decided to go for a reasonably long but also reasonably easy hike to Trafalgar waterfalls. To feel like true adventurers, not like those lazy cruiseshippies 😉 , we decided to go by public transportation. Not rocket science (!) but we swiped through Roseau twice in search of a bus station.
At this point comes my second general impression of the island. People do not stare! You do not look or feel like a walking dollar. They just do not see you until you interact with them and then they are simply polite and helpful.
Back to the bus search. This is what we know: bus stops at Esteban, by the police station. To get there you need to:
.… go first street, to the right…..
– Hey Maaan you want a taxi? I can give you a good offer!
.… Then turn left, by the monument…..
– No man, thanks, we are not from the cruise ship.
…. then left……
– Haha Maaan you went too far!!!! Turn left behind school
…. then to the right…..
– Mom! Look! This chicken really likes me, can we please, please, please take him with us?….
…then to the right…..
– No man too far, you have to get back!
….then get confused and….
– There! Behind you, this is a bus to Trafalgar….
– Is this Esteban? – I asked, looking at the beautiful combination of the lime green facade and pink window shutters of a general store
– No man…Estefan! Like Gloria Estefan!!!Do you know Gloria Estefan, man?
– Come again???
Totally relaxed, but on the other hand half-melted, we only had to wait until the bus was filled with passengers and we were ready to go. Wait, no! The bus driver would not leave until his sound system is fixed! Who, on earth, would drive the streets without music!!!!!! Bus schedule? – no such thing…..chill maaan!
3 quarters of an hour later, soaked in the profound sound of the modern reggae and half deaf as well, we arrived at Trafalgar to see the waterfalls. Easy hike, level 1, generally for cruiseshippies, right? We paid the entrance fee, we made a little introduction for kids about what we’re about to see, we put on our swimsuits and we went exploring. STAIRS again!!!!! Daaaamn. Hike level 1 ended after about 15min. In the wooden hut with the view. Nice, but we wanted to swim under waterfalls! Behind that point, you enter at your own risk and the hike is, let’s say, challenging. Between viewpoint and actual waterfall I had an intensive conversation with myself, like…… „do we have health insurance for Dominica?”, „What if we go up there and Vincent refuses to go back down?”, „ Why the hell didn’t I put my hiking shoes on???” (Right, shoes…nope!) „Vincent, you’re doing great, buddy!” and finally „oh look! I am climbing barefoot, I am SO cool, look at me – bare feet! I rock the rocks!!!, if only my Mum could see me…” (she wouldn’t probably use the word cool though).
Two Trafalgar waterfalls are called Mamma and Papa. Somehow Mamma ended up being fat and short, and Papa tall and thin. Hmm… The first waterfall we chose was the Mamma. Water was… guess what!? – cold. But cold water and crazy-hot air kinda worked for us. The second waterfall, Papa was hiding hot spring, but the climb was even more challenging. Big-ass stones and little kids. Kids were really kicking those stony asses!!! At the top, right under the waterfall, there was the best pool you could imagine. Deep enough to jump and WHAT a view! Below, in the lower pools, hot water was mixing with the cold stream and you could sit forever in the natural bathtub. Papa was definitely more rewarding and worth the climb!
Returning to Roseau with the last bus we were so tired that we could barely speak. Cannot imagine the hike named difficult, although we heard some stories :))) Roseau before sunset and after the departure of the cruise ship was deserted and almost everything was closed, so the only food we could find was the fast food, Dominica style – meaning fresh, homemade, just cooked fast, so you don’t wait for hours – DE-LI-CIOUS.
General impression number 3. On the bus up to Trafalgar and then down to Roseau, passengers were showing us damage made by hurricane Maria almost 2 years ago. Telling us emotional stories about how it looked like and how they were influenced by it. Amazing is that even if you can still see the damage, it is clearly noticeable how much work was done there, and how important it is for people to make it look nice and pretty around. People are painting and renovating their houses everywhere you look and it is clean, the grass is trimmed, fences are painted, no trash on the side of the road – this is not a general Caribbean impression, hence the remark!
Dominica part 2 …soon 🙂