Of all the islands in the Caribbean that I’ve been to, I’d have to say that Dominica (pronounced: dom-a-nee-ka) was my least favorite. Don't get me wrong, because it was still beautiful, just in a different way. The island itself is considered the, "Nature Isle of the Caribbean," because of its unspoiled nature and I imagine would be a hikers paradise. It's the youngest of all the Caribbean islands and is still being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity.
Dominica (Latin for Sunday) was named after the day of the week it was discovered by Christopher Columbus. He was a creative lil' feller, wasn't he? At the time, the Carib Indians settled on the island after being driven away from other Caribbean islands. In fact, some tribes still exist there today, but often keep to themselves, still living in huts and caves, and remaining out of the public eye. Trust me, I asked, because I wanted to get in there and hang out with them, even though they were considered cannibals. I can run away from the best of 'em, provided my shoes are tied tightly and I don't trip on anything, especially if something hungry is chasing me.
I think it was my least favorite island because the native people seemed bothered by the presence of tourists and weren't overly-friendly. At all. For example, on our excursion to Emerald Falls, we had to board a tiny van and traverse through the jungle going at speeds that felt like 100 MPH. It's like they wanted to get us to the falls and back, so we could get the hell out of there.
I was elected to sit in the passenger seat next to the driver because nobody else wanted to be near her. That's what I get for being the last one in the "van." It wasn't a very diplomatic process because I wasn't there to vote, but still, the lesson was learned. However, I was the one who got to sit by the air conditioner (aka window), so the joke was on all those sweaty buttheads crammed in the back.
I tried to engage our driver, but she wasn't having it. Every time I asked her a question, she would grunt. I felt like she was sizing me up for dinner and I didn't want to push the issue so I remained quiet for the rest of the trip. I kept glancing out of the corner of my eye to see if she was going to lunge at me. If she did, my hand was ready to open the door. I just needed to remember to tuck and roll as I hit the road. Road rash be damned, I wasn't going to be someone's dinner, I don't care how tender I'd be after pulled from the fire.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was filmed here. If you have seen the movie, then Dominica is most recognizable when Jack Sparrow fled Davy Jones to seek land, and where William Turner finds him living with the Pelegostos Tribe.
Anyway, we finally arrived at Emerald Falls and found out we had to hike close to a mile to get there through some of the most rugged terrain I had ever seen. I was worried because my mom had weak ankles and I knew that if she hit the dirt, it would turn out to be an entirely different adventure involving tribesmen dressed as paramedics and hauling her out on a make-shift gurney. Interesting, indeed! Now that I think about it, that would have made for some great writing and photos. Anyway, being the amazing daughter I am (shut up), I kept a watchful eye on her by walking behind her so I could catch her if she tumbled.
Besides the rugged terrain, we were all struggling with the horrible humidity. About half way to the falls, my shirt was completely soaked through and dripping from my body. Luckily, I carried two bottles of water on me and made mom do the same.
Yes, it's beautiful, but after that [insert bad word here] hike through thick humidity, I guess I expected more, so it was no surprise when, "That's it?" came out of my mouth.
For proof that I survived the hike, I asked my mom to take a picture of me standing on the other side of the falls. Unsure of how to use the camera, I told her, "Just point the camera at me and click this little doohicky button."
I'm the orange smudge leaning on the rock.
To be fair, my camera is one of the fancy-schmancy types of photographic equipment and not for the faint of heart. Some of the settings got screwed up before I handed my mom the camera, so it wasn't her fault.
Other groups started to arrive and started sucking down our oxygen and views. Quickly, it got too crowded and we decided to head back to our heathen van driver.
We made it to the van and all crawled in. I would have loved to have taken a picture of our heathen driver, but again, I didn't want to wind up being dinner, so I refrained. On the drive back, I kept noticing little voodoo-type dolls hanging from the trees on people's property. I got brave and asked our driver about them. She said, "We practice voodoo here," as she flicked her eyes in my direction. I took that as my cue to shut the hell up, yet again. I wanted to take a picture of them, but when you are cruising along at 100MPH, it's near impossible.
We made a pit stop at a little community-type center and got to see the native Dominican's perform a song and dance. It was entertaining and quite enjoyable.
We were given "refreshments" in order to help us cool off. I took a gulp of mine and began to cough and sputter, because there was just a tad of crushed ice, a splash of coconut milk, added to a vat of rum. I'm not a fan of any type of liquor. Usually the smell of liquor makes me nauseous, but for some reason, I couldn't smell the rum. I guess I was so thirsty it never occurred to me to smell it first. Another lesson learned.
Also, there were hummingbirds everywhere, busy buzzing around and occasionally perching on people. I've never seen a hummingbird be so happy to sit still for so long, but of course, by the time I grabbed my camera to take a photo for evidence, the little bastards took off. Sigh.
I've also never seen a poinsettia outside of the Christmas season, let alone as a shrub, but on the island of Dominica, they grow wild and are everywhere.
All-in-all, if you asked me if I'd go back to Dominica, I'd have to say yes, but not to relax on some tropical beach, because this isn't that type of place. There are other islands more suited to doing lazy tropical things. I have a feeling that there is a lot more see of Dominica, more than meets the eye, and I only got a very small glimpse. In order to immerse yourself into the culture, you'd have to spend more than a day there. If you do, tie your shoes tightly and try not to trip when you run.
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