We knew right away that Dominica (pronounced DOM-i-ni-ka) would be different. No massive resorts or hotels along shore, no posh jewel or watch shops. Just locals. A busy downtown. People making a living.
Our excursion takes us up through the rain forest (Dominica is 7 volcanoes!) to the beautiful Trafalgar Falls & thermal pools, and then back down to shore to snorkel. It's a zippy ride up the mountain--we love our driver, who gives us the low-down on their blessed island, the people's longevity (recently a woman who was 128 just passed away!) Here, there are few storms & few predators. Much pride, for obvious reasons. It's a lush, rich green island with mangos growing right along the road.
At the falls, Dan and I ditch the tour group and head up to the waterfall (we're on a tight schedule!) Igneous, rocky steps lined with massive ferns lead up to the falls. On an overcast day, the leaves look almost neon. I hop into a thermal pool--nature's jacuzzi. The water soothes me, and I breathe in this lovely place. The falls are warm, and we wish we could stay longer.
Back on the bus, we enjoy the conversation and commentary. Stop at sulfur flats--pee-you! We walk down a trail through sulfur smoke. Bubbly pools of gray muck. Being sold as age-defying creams and soaps :) Through the island's botanical gardens (bus crushed in an earthquake--they do have earthquakes!) and back to town. Snorkeling is fun--a little murky, but Dan dives down far enough to see rays, coral and lots of fish. I'm happy just floating in the water--soaking up every atom. Every molecule.
We head into town, passing stands of fruit and veggies, women carrying loads upon their heads. I'm reminded a bit of Kenya. We find a place to kick back, a bar constructed out of an old fort. We relax and drink to Kubulis. Soaking it all up.
I find a shop to buy island tea: soley (dominik,) mango, sweet sensation, pina colada, and hibiscus. The guy behind the counter--dreadlocks down to his butt--tells me, "If you really want to relax, buy the 'rasta-man' tea!" I laugh (What's really in THAT tea?) and stick with my fruity choices. (Later, I ask the concierge on the ship if I should declare my tea? LOL)
I don't want to leave Dominica. I want to go to the heart of the island. Meet more of its beautiful people. Learn and appreciate.
But alas, time ticks away.
And I'll be coming back.