A curious glance at the lush greenery of Dominica from our ship enticed my wife and I to experience the rainforest firsthand on our recent cruise. Finding numerous private operators as we exited the ship, we opted for a three-hour van tour through the surrounding mountains. Never realizing that we would need to “slip and slide” along our walking routes through pelting rain to reach inland waterfalls, hot springs, and bird sightings, I can honestly reflect that I enjoyed getting drenched that day.
Our “floating hotel”, as our driver, Saraya, called it, brought big business to this island as he sadly noted Dominica experienced then an unemployment rate of over 38%. Yet, there was no obvious appearance of “hustle” for tourist dollars from him or the local populace we met. I felt then that corporations were destroying these precious rainforests for the sake of economic greed. During our rainforest visit, we also took time to smell various tropical herbs and realized the many untapped, natural cures for urban ailments present in these steamy surroundings.
The last leg of our tour winded steeply downhill to the capital city Roseau, situated in a bowl- shaped valley. I laughed at the “double entendre” meaning when Saraya stated that we would soon be arriving at the “dead center” of the city as we become aware of dangerous waterways and eerie cemeteries nearby.
Clearly, we evidenced a stark contrast between the shantytown atmosphere of the countryside and the impressive, urban amenities downtown. A”state-of the art” soccer stadium, a stately Government Palace, and a thriving port here provided proof that Dominicans had made substantial progress as an independent people to overcome centuries of slavery/political repression in this nation’s British colonialist past.
Dominica, you are no “third world” country in my mind. I am glad that you have taken the time to educate me in both mind and spirit about the hidden treasures that your country possesses. Your natural beauty has helped me feel more “alive” today as I sail away to savor these priceless moments of “sleepy” solitude.