Dominica Traveller 2017. Issue 02 by Paul Crask

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Issue 02: 2017 | Free of Charge











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FEATURES 18. Portraits of the Artists Marica Honychurch photographs six artists and a selection of their paintings.


38. Love for an Island Polly Pattullo discusses the relationship of three women writers with their island home.

48. The Storm Dancers Despite being displaced by tropical storm Erika, the Dubique Cultural Group dances on.

60. Morne Patates Archaeological Study


Catch up with Mark Hauser and his team on their second field season in Soufriere.

70. Going Underground Give your hiking boots a day off and try a canyoning trip.

82. Crater Lakes Walk new and old forest trails to the Boeri and Freshwater Lakes.

96. The Anatomy of Our Reefs


Explore life down under, with marine biologist Arun Madisetti.

110. The Private Lives of Hummingbirds


Meet Ethan Temeles, who studies the evolving relationship between hummingbird and heliconia.

9. Still Fighting Back

120. Space Invaders

Efforts to save Dominica’s mountain chicken frog continue.

Is an invasive lizard species threatening the survival of Dominica’s native zandoli?

11. Sicydium Plumieri Up close and personal with a remarkable goby.

130. Tropical Gardens Take a leisurely stroll through tropical gardens in Giraudel and Trafalgar. 2

13. Tewe Vaval The spirit of carnival goes up in flames.












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On the Cover

Members of the Dubique Cultural Group perform the bĂŠlĂŠ.

Parting Shot Competition Send us your best Dominica travel shot. Our favourite will be published in issue 03 with the winner also receiving a copy of the Bradt Travel Guide to Dominica. (This is a competition for Dominica Travellers only.) Closing date: 30 April, 2017. Email to:

Dominica Traveller Young Journalist Competition Dominica Traveller will publish the three best articles from aspiring young journalists in issue 03. Details of the competition and prizes will be posted on in January 2017. Look out for updates and more information on the Dominica Traveller Facebook page. (This is a competition for Dominicans only.) Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


From the editor










Nature Island A very nice man called Pomme is on the front cover of the first issue of Dominica Traveller. For me, he symbolises a willingness and ability to feel comfortable with nature. He lives off the land while at the same time respecting it, and through his healthy, self-sufficient and contented lifestyle, he questions modern definitions of what is development and progress. Members of the Dubique Cultural Group perform a traditional bĂŠlĂŠ on the front cover of this issue. Despite being displaced by tropical storm Erika in August 2015, they continue to maintain their Creole traditions and have the desire and the strength to dance on. Their admirable resolve is typical of many in the aftermath of the storm. On this island we witness nature at its most beautiful and dramatic. There are nine potentially active volcanoes, countless rivers and waterfalls, pristine coral reefs and abyssal drop-offs, active fumaroles and a boiling lake, and swathes of

diverse forest habitats – much still unexplored. We have a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and regionally and locally endemic birds, reptiles and amphibians. Nature is why Dominica is unique to this region; it inspires and influences people, and is the reason travellers make the effort to journey here. Dominica Traveller features articles about nature, adventure, art and culture. I am happy that the first issue was so well received, both at home and overseas. The second issue has grown a little, expanding from 112 to 144 pages. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy researching, writing, and photographing this amazing place I am proud to call home.

Paul Crask @paulcrask


Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


Contributors Paul Crask

Editor in Chief, Features Writer and Photographer Paul is the editor and publisher of Dominica Traveller magazine. An arts graduate of Leeds University he lived and worked in Germany, Japan and the UK before deciding on a complete lifestyle change. He moved to Dominica with his wife Celia in 2005. Well travelled and still full of wanderlust, Paul is the author of the Bradt Travel Guides to Dominica and Grenada, and is a freelance journalist for regional and international travel publications.

Janie Conley-Johnson Layout and Art Director

Janie is art director and co-owner of Leeward Consultants Publishers in Antigua whose current titles include Food & Drink Guide, Simply Antigua Barbuda, Carib Art House. She is also co-author and creative director of Gourmand award-winning cookbook, Tablemanners. A graduate of University College London with an MA in Electronic Communication and Publishing and a BA Hons in Photography and Printmaking, Janie is also responsible for managing the corporate branding and marketing campaigns for several companies spanning a dozen Caribbean islands.

Nigel Francis Creative Designer

A self-taught graphic designer from Antigua, Nigel is described as the ‘creative brain’ behind Leeward Consultants publications and branding campaigns for a decade (see above). With an eye for detail and a strong creative drive, Nigel’s corporate clients include Antigua Barbuda Carnival, Barbuda Caribana, Antigua Sailing Week, Antigua Distillery Ltd., and the Observer Media Group. Nigel also has his own successful design company called Takumi Media.

Arun Madisetti

Contributing Writer and Photographer: The Anatomy of our Reefs Arun is a Dominican photographer, marine biologist, and scuba instructor who has been creating images that promote the beauty of the island since the mid 1980s. His work has been presented in galleries including the Smithsonian Institute. He has won many international photographic awards, and authored magazine articles and book chapters about Dominica’s hiking and diving. He is a director of Images Dominica. For more information: 6










Polly Pattullo

Features Sub-editor and Contributing Writer: Love for an Island Polly is the publisher of Papillote Press which specialises in books about Dominica and the wider Caribbean. A former journalist, she is the author of Last Resorts: the Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean (an analysis of the region’s tourist industry) and Fire from the Mountain, the story of the Montserrat volcano crisis. Her latest book, Your Time Is Done Now, is an account of the trials, held in 1813-1814, of Dominica’s Maroons. She lives in London and Dominica. For more information:

Marica Honychurch

Contributing Writer and Photographer: Portraits of the Artists Born and raised in Dominica, Marica moved to the U.S in her late teens where she was first introduced to the world of photography. Gaining a B.F.A. at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Marica was able to experience film and dark room processes before transitioning over to digital. She also attended the Hallmark Institute of Photography where she spent time learning about commercial photography, before moving to New York City to work as a digital tech and photographer. Marica has recently returned to Dominica and is a freelance photographer concentrating mainly on travel, documentary and portrait photography. For more information:

Prof. Mark W. Hauser with school children from Soufriere.

The Scientists Technical contributions and images came from the following visiting scientists and researchers: Kevin W. Conway Assistant Professor and Curator of Fishes, Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University: (Sicydium plumieri) Jacqui Eales School of Biological Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University. Earthwatch Institute; Operation Wallacea: (Space Invaders)

Jeanel Georges Ph.D. research student, Operation Wallacea: (Space Invaders) Mark W. Hauser Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University: (Morne Patates Archaeological Study) Daniel Nicholson Zoologist and conservation biologist, and Ph.D. student of biology at the University of London. Ethan J. Temeles Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies, Amherst College: (The Private Lives of Hummingbirds) Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


In Brief

Still Fighting Back An update on efforts to save Dominica’s most famous amphibian. By Daniel Nicholson.

In issue 01, Dominica Traveller covered the work of Jenny Spencer and staff from the Forestry, Wildlife & Parks Division. When Jenny’s term ended, I came to Dominica on an 8-month contract with the Zoological Society of London to pick up where she left off.

frogs that are developing a natural resistance to the chytridiomycosis disease (see issue 01) though we have no evidence to back this up yet. Tropical Storm Erika in August 2015 also seemed to have less impact on mountain chicken populations than we had feared.

‘Positive, yet realistic’ is how I usually tell people what I think about the survival prospects of Dominica’s most famous amphibian. Our records state that we have recorded 100 individual mountain chicken frogs so far but the number increases every month and there are also plenty we can hear but not reach.

So there are many positives. But we also have to be realistic about things. The disease still poses a threat but so too do we humans through pollution, illegal poaching, and even global warming – all are serious perils to the survival of the mountain chicken; and 100 is still a very small number.

The frogs are successfully breeding in the wild and we have seen several juveniles. The breeding season (March to July) seemed to go well and we found a lot of very active and vocal males as well as numerous large females filled with eggs. We have reason to suspect that there may be some

It is up to all of us to try to help to save it. Report sightings and sounds to the Forestry, Wildlife & Parks Division (tel: 266 5852), support Mountain Chicken Day and the Mountain Chicken Hike (FB: Dominica Mountain Chicken Project), don’t hunt or eat it, and don’t pollute the environment. Spread the word. Still Fighting Back


Sisserou Lodge Reigate, Roseau Enjoying magnificent 180 degree views of Roseau and the Caribbean Sea, Sisserou Lodge is a popular accommodation choice for couples, business travellers, photographers and journalists. It is within easy reach of the capital, west coast dive shops, and the hot sulphur spas, hiking trails, tropical gardens and waterfalls of the Roseau Valley and Morne Trois Pitons National Park. Secure and private, Sisserou Lodge combines modern facilities with traditional Caribbean design. It has a master bedroom with 6ft x 6ft bed, AC, fans, bathroom with shower, fully equipped kitchen, free broadband WiFi, living room with cable TV and sofa bed, and a wrap-around veranda with jawdropping views. Guests also enjoy exclusive use of the large swimming pool, deck and comfortable sun loungers. The private gardens have flowers, numerous fruit trees and there is also a two-storey wooden tree house on site that can also be utilised, at no extra cost, if required. Services include housekeeping and laundry, an extensive welcome pack and expert assistance with local guides and island tours.

T: (767) 277 8714 E: Find us on Facebook and AirBnB


In Brief

Sicydium plumieri Sicydium plumieri is quite a mouthful, in more ways than one.

This beautiful freshwater fish lives in all of Dominica’s rivers and pools. It breeds high upstream and its spawn is washed all the way down river to the sea where it lives briefly as a juvenile before heading back upstream to fresh water. One of three species of Sicydium gobies found in Dominica, all collectively referred to by Dominicans as Titiwi when they are juveniles, the journey this fish makes is quite fantastic. If it avoids the waiting fishing nets and thus ending its days as a fried ackra, it swims upstream against the current until it comes to a cascade or a waterfall. And then, amazingly, it climbs. So long as water is running over rock, the goby has a chance to make it and will climb and swim its way up Dominica’s rivers until it can simply go no further. It feeds on algae and other detritus

that collects on rocks and, if eventually trapped in a pool, will grow into a large adult and develop these beautiful colours. Kevin W. Conway Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Curator of Fishes, Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University, has recently begun studying them. “So little is known about Caribbean gobies,” he says. “Because they have never been properly studied. We don’t know how big they grow or how long they live. All we really know is that they make this incredible journey. And that they are beautiful, of course.” Professor Conway hopes to return to Dominica in 2017 to study and learn more about the freshwater fishes of Dominica. Sicydium plumieri


Villa Passiflora & The Cottage at Villa Passiflora Calibishie THE COTTAGE Nestled within coastal woodland and enjoying fine ocean views and a cooling breeze, our one bedroom cottage is simply beautiful. Spacious yet at the same time intimate, the cottage has an open plan lounge and kitchen, a large bathroom and verandas. With artistic use of local woods, louvre windows you can simply throw open, and a peaceful and secure environment, the cottage is a romantic and stress-free retreat for couples to spend good quality time together. THE VILLA One of Dominica’s most exquisite accommodation options, yet at the same time relaxed and comfortable, our villa perches majestically on a hillside, enjoying panoramic ocean views. With three en suite bedrooms, a library and media room, a large, fully equipped kitchen, and two fabulous covered decks – one with infinity pool – the villa is ideal for a holiday-making family or a group of friends. Housekeeping services are available for both properties and we can cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for you on request. Just twenty minutes from the airport, our cottage and villa are great places to relax, unwind, and enjoy the nature island to its fullest. USA T: (423) 718 1842 T: (767) 245 3468 E: FB: Villa Passiflora Dominica


In Brief

Tewe Vaval Dominica’s dramatic and fiery end to carnival. Tewe Vaval is the symbolic burning of an effigy and a coffin representing the spirit of carnival that takes place annually on Ash Wednesday. There are usually two Tewe Vaval ceremonies; one in the west coast village of Dublanc, the other in the Kalinago village of Bataca (pictured above).

falls, a large bonfire is lit and young men pluck up the courage to run and jump through the flames. The festivities end with the traditional burning of the effigy and coffin, symbolising the close of carnival celebrations for the year.

Accompanied by chanting and drumming, the effigy and coffin are paraded through the village in the style of a funeral procession. When darkness

Photograph courtesy of BAFTA and Emmy award-winning film-maker, Richard Kirby ( Tewe Vaval


Historic Roseau


Evergreen Hotel Castle Comfort, Roseau Situated on the waterfront just 1 mile from Roseau and with easy access to the island’s popular natural attractions and dive shops, Evergreen is a beautiful, peaceful and relaxing 16 room hotel with fine dining Sea Surge restaurant, lively Cocoba waterside bistro, and casual Café Sol. The airconditioned rooms are en suite with cable TV, WiFi and some with private balcony. In addition to the swimming pool and sun terrace, there is direct access to the Caribbean Sea with a mini dock, patio and its own stony beach. In less than a minute you can be snorkelling on the house reef in the company of tropical fish, corals, and even passing turtles. Café Sol serves breakfast and bites until late, and the Sea Surge restaurant offers an exquisite fusion of Creole and international dishes. Watch sailboats at anchor, enjoy colourful sunsets, or drop in for a Lazy Sunday buffet from 1pm to 4pm with live music. Cocoba is a fun place to hang out by the waterside in the evenings, with drinks and great tasting Caribbean food. If you are anchored nearby, simply follow the lights, the beach flambeau and the music, and come and join us! Airport transfers, weddings and celebratory events, island tours, hiking guides, scuba diving and whale watching can all be arranged for you. T: (767) 448 3288 / 277 4691 / 614 4057 E:


Café Desiderata Old Street, Roseau Deconstructed haute Caribbean cuisine in a chic and stylish setting is the daily fare at Café Desiderata where excellent dining is accompanied by attentive and gracious service. Step out of the hustle and bustle of the capital into a hidden oasis of tranquillity and good taste. Our breakfast and lunch menu varies daily, depending on what is fresh and available from our organic garden, and our a la carte sandwiches and wraps are always in demand. We open our lounge on Saturday evenings for tapas, tempura, fine wines and good conversation. Worldly flavours, home-grown healthy food and attention to detail and service is our mantra. Find us near the Old Market Square in the French Quarter of Roseau. T: (767) 448 6522 / 6525 E: FB: Café Desiderata

Pearl’s Cuisine Roseau Did you know Pearl’s Cuisine has a fabulous dining room right in the heart of Roseau? Located in the Sutton Place Hotel on Old Street, we serve high quality Creole lunches from Monday through Saturday. We also cater for birthday parties and wedding receptions. If it’s in season, it’s on your plate; be it fresh garden salad and vegetables, catch of the day, roast pork, beef, lamb or chicken. It’s all delicious. Our take-out shop on Hanover Street has been popular for years. Pick up a roti, a Creole lunch or a fresh fruit juice – there’s always plenty of choice. A Dominica treasure and tradition for over 25 years, and still with some of our original staff, Pearl’s Cuisine is where good taste matters as much as cost. Pearl’s Cuisine dining at Sutton Place Hotel on Old Street, take-out on Hanover Street, Roseau.

T: (767) 448 8707 FB: pearls.cuisine Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


Portraits of The Artists

Marica Honychurch meets and photographs six artists and a selection of their paintings.

Earl Etienne


Earl Etienne has always been exposed to art, initially influenced by his father who introduced him to artists’ works by displaying them on the walls of their home. At a very early age, he experimented with different painting styles, and in 1982 he received a scholarship enabling him to attend the Jamaica School of Arts; now known as the Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts. Earl is one of the most recognised and influential of Dominica’s artists. Over the years he has continued to experiment, and the liveliness of his paintings is a reflection of his own energetic personality. His works are strongly influenced by Dominica’s environment and culture, and it is his use of recycled materials, various mediums, layering and

splashes of colour that are deeply appealing. Earl is particularly known for his use of a smoke technique known as bouzaille or flambeau, strongly layered acrylics, and coconut gauze layered with paint. His most recent paintings demonstrate the influence of pre-Colombian rock carvings. Earl’s paintings are displayed at The Old Mill Cultural Centre, E. Moses Art Studio & Gallery, The Art Asylum and at local and regional art exhibitions. Contact Earl: Tel: (767) 449 2484 Email: Portraits of The Artists


Ellingworth Moses


Ellingworth Moses was attracted to art at a young age and began to focus on painting in his late teens. One look at his work will tell you that his greatest influence is Dominica’s natural environment; exploring how light highlights the elements within landscapes.

crochet thread overlaid with plaster, glue and acrylic paint, embodying abstract forms of both nature and people. The thread and other materials combined represent a metaphor of linkage to natural elements that surround us. The richness of these layered works provokes a sense of intricate connectivity.

His initial works were painted in a realistic style, but in more recent years he has transitioned to the more abstract, experimenting with a range of techniques. He has never committed to one particular style of painting and has enjoyed developing and enhancing his artistic skills over the years.

Ellingworth’s paintings are displayed at the E. Moses Art Studio and Gallery, The Old Mill Cultural Centre, and various local and regional art exhibitions.

Some of Ellingworth’s contemporary works involve

Contact Ellingworth: Tel: (767) 225 2132 Email: Portraits of The Artists


Lowell Royer


Lowell Royer has been drawing for as long as he can remember and began painting in his early teens. He received artistic insight from his uncle, Earl Etienne, and received a scholarship to attend the Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts and lived in Jamaica for several years, only recently returning to Dominica. Lowell currently has five distinct styles: black and white drawings, paint and stains on wood, paint on canvas, digital painting, and tattoos. His art is not only derived from his visual surroundings, but he also delves into a dark, dreamlike imagination, intertwining realism with his surreal creativeness. Now in Dominica his more recent works are

inspired by nature, and he is especially captivated by hummingbirds. Such paintings are in contrast to his other techniques, especially his woodcuts and black and white drawings, where he invites us to unravel multiple meanings within his art. Lowell Royer’s company name is OMtNI and he has an art and tattoo studio and named ‘Spire’, which is located in Massacre.

Contact Lowell: Tel: (767) 317 9350 Email: Portraits of The Artists



Tiffany Burnett-Biscombe


Always intrigued by art, Tiffany first started painting on little stones she collected. She spent her teens in England and attended the Chelsea College of Art, developing her techniques before returning to Dominica where she met a Londonbased painter, Nahem Shoa, who became her mentor, and with whom she was able to learn and improve her method of figurative painting. This mentorship continued upon her return to England. She attended the City and Guilds of London Art School and was able to develop her own abstract techniques and ‘personal language style’. Having spent time in London, her work is

also inspired by her love of architecture. Tiffany’s more recent artworks involve solid forms of colour, portraying elements of nature, and she has delved into other forms of art including batik (a wax-resistant method of pattern printing on cloth), jewellery-making and cooking. Tiffany’s art is on display at The Loft, on Victoria St, Newtown. Contact Tiffany: Tel: (767) 440 4660 Email: Portraits of The Artists


Aaron Hamilton


Aaron Hamilton, a self-taught artist, began drawing as a young child and then migrated towards painting. Understanding colour came very naturally to him and he drew inspiration from book illustrations and many local artists, including Earl Etienne and Ellingworth Moses. His detailed, colourful paintings of landscape and lifestyle also demonstrate influence and inspiration from Dominica itself. Aaron uses several different types of materials including pastels, acrylics, charcoal, pencil and watercolours. From impressionism to cubism, his works are varied in style though Dominican

culture is always present. Aaron has also illustrated several books including I Am Dominica (Mwen sé Donmnik), Mi Bredeks!, Timtim…Glo Doubout…, and Ti Listwè Donmnik. Aaron immerses himself fully in the Dominica art scene and understands the importance of creativity in society. He teaches students and displays his work at the Old Mill Cultural Centre and is involved in other art activities. Contact Aaron: Email: Email: Portraits of The Artists


Shadrach Burton


Shadrach Burton was noticed as a talented young artist at the age of 13, participating in his first exhibition at the Old Mill Cultural Centre. He went on to attend the China Academy of Arts, located in the city of Hangzhou, east China. The school is known for its diverse range and structure in the arts, and he was able to gain both a Bachelor and Masters degree there. Back home, Shadrach’s art displays aspects of both Dominica and China, with nature always a strong influence. Yet despite being surrounded by natural beauty, the city of Hangzhou also continues to influence him and he draws inspiration from the chaotic beauty of buildings and cityscapes, expressed through his abstract

paintings. Films, music and pop culture also play a large part in his work. Shadrach is now teaching art here in Dominica as well as working on an original concept he calls ‘Liquid Finger Print’, which he has developed over the past ten years. He sees it as a more energetic approach towards depicting nature. His work is displayed at the Paradise Art Gallery in Wotten Waven as well at art exhibitions.

Contact Shadrach: Tel: (767) 225-4930 Tel: (767) 448-0733 (Paradise Art Gallery) Email: Portraits of The Artists


Le Petit Paris Bakery Picard Authentic and irresistible, the daily fresh baguettes, breads, croissants, fruit tarts, éclairs and creamy cakes baked at Le Petit Paris are out of this world. And if you don’t have a sweet tooth, don’t worry; try our delicious quiches, baguette sandwiches, stuffed croissants, fresh salads or 12 inch pizzas instead. We have lots to choose from and everything is carefully prepared with high quality ingredients and an unmistakable hint of France. We are located on the main boulevard in Picard, opposite Ross University, and we are open every day between 8am and 6pm. We have outside dining and on Fridays we stay open until 9pm for our Special Evening, where we offer something different and delicious for you to enjoy every week. Bienvenue. Welcome to Le Petit Paris Bakery.

T: (767) 275 7777 FB: Le Petit Paris Picard


Hotel The Champs Picard Double award-winning – for both our hotel and our restaurant – The Champs is unbeatable. Start your day with a delicious made-to-order breakfast and breathtaking panoramas of the Caribbean Sea and Cabrits National Park; and then end it with jaw-dropping sunsets and equally awesome international dining, wood oven pizza, vegetarian specialties, and a selection of fine wines. We are proud that our poolside and deck dining, high quality cooking, and panoramic vistas are among the very best on the nature island. Stay in one of our individually designed, boutique rooms, all equipped with WiFi, AC, private bathroom, terrace or veranda. Our service is top class, our food and views are out of this world. Choose The Champs. T: (767) 445 4452 E: FB: TheChampsPicard

Sisters Beach Bar, Restaurant & Lodge Picard Nestled on the beach in Picard, enjoying romantic sunsets and wonderful views of the Caribbean Sea, Sisters Beach Bar & Restaurant serves a fusion of Creole and international dinners, specializing in seafood. The lionfish and the mussels are particular favourites, but everything is genuinely good here. Even the pasta is home-made. The beach bar and restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily Monday through Saturday. The six stone Sisters Lodges enjoy colourful tropical garden surroundings and are just a short walk to the sandy beach. Each has two double beds, kitchenette, living room, fans and insect screens. Guests are welcome to pick ripe fruits. A relaxed ambience, comfortable, goodvalue accommodation, and excellent cuisine, Sisters Beach Bar, Restaurant & Lodge is perfect for independent travellers exploring the north.

T: (767) 445 5211 / 235 5454 E: Find us on Facebook Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


Manicou River Portsmouth Fully solar-powered and set amid ten acres of forested hillside overlooking Douglas Bay and the Cabrits National Park, Manicou River’s cottages, bar and bistro make for an authentic, comfortable and extremely scenic island vacation. Each of the cottages has a double bed, bathroom, kitchen and a deck with panoramic views that are certainly among the best on the island. The open-sided bar and bistro combines rustic and natural with style and attention to detail, serving a set menu of French Caribbean Creole dishes. Seating is limited and meals are by reservation only so call ahead. Or just turn up for a drink and sample the much sought after Manicou River fruit infused rum – the selection is varied, the taste delicious and smooth. Just like the cottages, the restaurant views are jawdroppingly awesome. T: (767) 616 8903 | E: Find us on Facebook

Veranda View Guest House Calibishie Colourful and artistically designed three bedroom waterfront accommodation on the main road in Calibishie, Veranda View Guest House offers affordable comfort in a tranquil environment, with a cooling breeze and the soft music of the sea as constant companions. Guests can quite literally step from Veranda View into the clear, calm and shallow water that is protected by an inshore reef. Owner and host, Hermien, cooks for her guests upon request and specialises in homemade European and Creole dishes, especially fish, which is bought daily fresh from local fishermen. After a day out exploring the island, relax in a hammock on your own private veranda and enjoy panoramic views of the bay. Veranda View Guest House is located just 20 minutes from Portsmouth and the airport.

T: (767) 445 8900 E: 36

Rainbow Restaurant Calibishie Located on the water’s edge and on the main Calibishie road, Rainbow Restaurant has a great reputation for exquisite French Creole dining using only the freshest local fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood. Lionfish and curried chicken in pineapple are particular favourites, but try anything from the daily menu – it is all top class. Chef and co-owner Karine is an artist in the kitchen while her partner and reggae singer Michael is the perfect host. Eat inside, on the covered beach or completely al fresco on the upper deck. The Atlantic coastal views are awesome, the sea breezes cooling, the ambience colourful and relaxing, and the food simply out of this world. No fuss, unassuming and unpretentious, Rainbow is one of the nature island’s very best places to eat. T: (767) 245 9995 / 245 4838 E: Find us on Facebook

Pointe Baptiste Estate Chocolate Pointe Baptiste, Calibishie The colourful chocolate factory at historic Pointe Baptiste Estate is where you will find some of the nature island’s most delicious chocolate being made. Created and managed by estate owner and chocolatier, Alan Napier, the factory produces delicious nibs, truffles and bars in various strengths and flavours including 80% cocoa, mint, tangerine, ginger and many others. You will find Pointe Baptiste Estate Chocolate for sale all around the island but if you want to buy it at source and even see how it is made, you are welcome to call in for a tasting and a tour. Pointe Baptiste Estate is located close to the village of Calibishie and the awesome Red Rock coastline.

T: (767) 225 5378 E: Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


Wild bush engulfs the Geneva Estate ruins in Grand Bay.


Love for an Island By Polly Pattullo Some 40 years ago the Dominican writer and politician Phyllis Shand Allfrey expressed her love for her island’s landscape. “We love bush,” she wrote in her newspaper The Star, “Not for us the lawns shaven like good civil servants ready for the office... we respect such landscapes, but we eschew them, because what we enjoy is savage natural luxuriance in plant life.”

The Island is the Real Hero


On this page: Top left: Phyllis Shand Allfrey. Top centre: Elma Napier. Middle centre: Jean Rhys. Top right: The Dominica Trade Union Building in Roseau. Bottom: Interior of the Pointe Baptiste Estate House.

An early conservationist, Allfrey was campaigning to protect the wilderness against exploitation by timber companies. At the time, she enlisted her friend and fellow Dominican Jean Rhys, one of the 20th century’s greatest writers, to her cause. It is no surprise that both writers put Dominica and its environment at the centre of their writing. “The island is the real hero,” said Allfrey of her novel, The Orchid House. And Rhys, too, felt the island was a real character in her greatest work, Wild Sargasso Sea. In that novel, first published in 1966, Rhys’ Creole heroine Antoinette takes her new English husband to her childhood home - an estate above the village of Massacre, on the coast north of Roseau. As he rides the trail up to his honeymoon home, Grandbois (based on Rhys’ family estate in that location), he complains: “Too much blue, too much purple, too much green. The flowers too red, the mountains too high, the hills too near.” 40

The intensity of the landscape – almost like a threatening character – alienated him. There is still a path to Bona Vista (Grandbois in the novel), but there is virtually nothing left of the house; the view, which Rhys described (the sadness of sunset), has survived while those tropical colours remain, of course, as intense as ever. Rhys’ life and writing were consumed by her own insecurities and sense of abandonment. In contrast, Allfrey had a more optimistic view of life and the possibilities of redemption, and her passion for Dominica shines through in The Orchid House, the autobiographical story of three white sisters who return to their island home to find their family in decline. Stella, the sensuous one, is in love with the island. She “put her arms round the trunk of a laurier cypre and rubbed her cheek softly against the bark. I’ve come back, she said to the tree . . . as if she would strangle it for joy.” Allfrey (1908-1986) and Rhys (1890-1979) were

Jean Rhys house on Cork Street, Roseau

Roseau girls – brought up there (nearly 20 years apart) in comfortable homes with servants and nursemaids. Both were privileged white children born into a British colony with an overwhelmingly black population, at a time when race defined class. Rhys, whose childhood home still stands (although sadly neglected and with no acknowledgment to Rhys) at the corner of Independence Street and Cork Street. From its windows she watched the carnival bands pass (as they still do) and wished she could join in. “I used to long so fiercely to be black and to dance, too, in the sun, to that music,” she wrote. Allfrey grew up at Seaview House, overlooking the sea, at Newtown, now part of Roseau, while her grandparents’ town house was called Kingsland House. There, where Astaphan’s department store now stands on King George V Street, was her grandfather’s orchid conservatory. Sir Henry Nicholls was a medical doctor and important agriculturalist and it was his St Aroment estate,

above the Roseau suburb of Goodwill, which provided the setting for The Orchid House. Allfrey lived there when she returned to Dominica in the 1960s but it was later sold and then destroyed by Hurricane David in 1979. Both families went to the Anglican church at the roundabout in Roseau, opposite Fort Young Hotel. Rhys’ father is buried in its graveyard with a headstone topped by a Celtic cross, a reference to Rhys’ Welsh background. While Rhys died in England, Allfrey died in Dominica and is buried there – her grave, along with that of her husband and daughter, is in the Anglican cemetery behind the Newtown savannah. The Botanic Gardens in Roseau feature in both Rhys and Allfrey’s work. They were so beautiful “spread out under the hill, with the mountains blue behind that, and the nurseries of young plants and vanilla and cocoa trees running all the way up the hollow to the middle of the hill,” says Lally, the The Island is the Real Hero


sisters’ nursemaid when she takes her charges to play there. The plant nursery still exists but the vanilla and cocoa are gone. The Gardens also provide the setting for fictional expressions of Allfrey’s politics. In The Orchid House it is where the three young sisters play; there they see their cousins – but are not allowed to acknowledge them: for their cousins are “coloured”. Allfrey, in The Orchid House, writes of how the colonial government had cut down fruit trees in the Gardens so that hungry children could no longer steal the fruit. Typically, Allfrey’s passion for the environment meshes with her concern for the poor. Rhys’ experiences of the Botanic Gardens were where she played, usually alone, but it was also where she was sexually abused by an elderly friend of her parents. We do not know whether she visited the Gardens on her one return to Dominica – in 1936 – but she did travel around the island, 42

usually commenting on how things had changed, for the worst. Her happiest time was when she stayed at Hampstead, an estate in the north of the island, and then very remote. She wrote in a letter, “The wonderful thing is to wake up and know that nobody can get at you - nobody.” Hampstead beach has not changed much since then (it was location for the film Pirates of the Caribbean). When she was staying at Hampstead, Rhys visited another white woman writer, Elma Napier, who had moved to Dominica in the early 1930s and built her home Pointe Baptiste, at Calibishie, not far from Hampstead. Napier, too, wrote passionately about the environment, especially in her memoir Black and White Sands about her life in Dominica. During Rhys’ stay, she also visited Geneva estate in Grand Bay. Owned by her mother’s family, the Lockharts since 1824, the estate house was a much-loved feature from Rhys’ childhood. In Smile Please, her unfinished autobiography, she

The Botanic Gardens in Roseau.

remembered the garden: “The steps down to the lawn. The iron railings covered with jasmine and stephanotis. In the sunniest part of the garden grew the roses and the ‘English flowers’.” When she went back she was met by a ruin. She wrote: “...nothing, nothing. Nothing to look at. Nothing to say.” It had been burned down in 1930; set alight by arsonists with a political grudge against her family. It had happened before, and such an episode, though somewhat fictionalised, features in Wide Sargasso Sea when the contents of Antoinette’s childhood home, during slavery, are burned. Unlike Rhys who left Dominica at 16 to live in France and England only to return that one time, Allfrey returned to Dominica from London as cofounder of the island’s first mass political party, the Dominica Labour Party (which is currently the governing administration) - and stayed. The party was launched by Allfrey in 1955 from the steps of the Dominica Trade Union hall, a small, still standing building on Independence Street, in

Roseau. She went on to become a minister in the short-lived West Indies Federation (1959-62). When I first went to Dominica to meet Phyllis Shand Allfrey (she died in 1986), she was living in a tiny stone-built house at Copt Hall - up the Roseau Valley on the way to Wotten Waven among citrus trees and beside a stream. The old mill house of the estate, it was her and husband’s final home; they lived very humbly and in some poverty but surrounded by books and still interested in politics. Now their home is part of the End of Eden guesthouse and greatly changed. Many would say that what hasn’t changed in Dominica is the problem of communications challenged by the tortuous terrain. Allfrey travelled by donkey and on foot to remote villages when she was campaigning for political change; and it took Rhys a day to reach Hampstead from Roseau, travelling by boat and then over rough roads by car. Rhys wrote a short story called The Imperial The Island is the Real Hero


Geneva Estate ruins.

Road, which is a lightly disguised tale based on her disastrous attempt to walk a section of the road of the same name in 1936. The road, which now crosses the island on the way to and from the Douglas Charles airport, from Canefield on the west coast and reaching the east coast at Hatton Garden, had not been completed when Rhys attempted that arduous walk. That only occurred after Rhys’ visit when Elma Napier, by then a member of Dominica’s legislature, had championed its completion. 44

Much of the built landscape of both Rhys’ and Allfrey’s worlds has disappeared, destroyed by hurricanes or been abandoned. Shamefully there is little recognition and no landmarks in Dominica to commemorate the lives of these three remarkable women. In compensation, however, much of the natural landscape that they described survives, as do their books, which we can read. All tell in their very different ways of their love for an island.

The Red Rocks at Pointe Baptiste.

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The Island is the Real Hero


Sandbar Calibishie Take off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes. Sandbar is located right on the beach at Calibishie and enjoys awesome ocean and coastal views. Take a seat indoors in the bar and restaurant, or outside on the beach, and we will be happy to serve a range of Caribbean and international dishes including ribs, mahi mahi, octopus and our very popular curry goat. Everything tastes great and is as fresh as the cooling sea breeze. Upstairs are two modern and comfortable rooms for rent. Both have en suite bathrooms; the larger one has a private veranda overlooking the sea. We are open daily from noon and we host occasional live music. Free WiFi available. Drop in and chill out at Sandbar. T: (767) 245 2526 / 265 9829 E: FB: Sandbar Calibishie

Coral Reef Shopping Centre Calibishie Located on the main street in Calibishie, Coral Reef Shopping Centre is your one-stop shop for food, drink and essential supplies when visiting and exploring the beautiful north east of Dominica. If you are holiday-making in one of Calibishie’s fabulous villas or self-catering apartments, look no further than Coral Reef for all your needs. We stock fresh and frozen meats, dairy products, fresh vegetables, household supplies, and a great selection of wines, beers, spirits, mixers and juices. We have daily fresh bread and we even have a selection of light bites, snacks, cakes and pastries. Our staff are welcoming and helpful, and our service is second to none. Drop in and see for yourself. Coral Reef Shopping Centre has everything you need. T: (767) 445 7432


Coral Reef Restaurant & Bar Calibishie One of Dominica’s least visible restaurants, yet one that is certainly worth seeking out, Coral Reef Restaurant & Bar is hidden behind the ‘one-stop shop’ Coral Reef Supermarket in the heart of the main street in the popular and scenic coastal village of Calibishie. Located right on the waterfront, with coconut palms and a sliver of powder white sand, discovering Coral Reef Restaurant & Bar is both a surprise and a delight, like finding buried treasure, and the journey is just as rewarding! Our tables are set along the open-sided deck and diners can enjoy a cooling breeze as well as great views of the Atlantic Ocean, the tranquil waters of the inshore coral reef, the volcanic islets and the dramatic Red Rocks of nearby Pointe Baptiste. Our friendly staff are happy to serve a varied daily menu of local and international dishes that suit all budgets and tastes, and our restaurant is open every day from 8am to midnight, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. No reservations are necessary – just drop in and Coral Reef will always have something fresh for you to eat and drink. It’s always great tasting and equally great value. Coral Reef also hosts occasional parties and events, and offer a very convenient take-out and catering service which is perfect if you are staying in one of Calibishie’s many self catering villas or apartments. A hidden treasure and a very pleasant surprise, you will always receive a warm welcome at Coral Reef. T: (767) 445 7432

Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


The Storm Dancers Despite being displaced by tropical storm Erika, the Dubique Cultural Group dances on. Refugees in their own country, I first met the members of the Dubique Cultural Group at the Grand Bay Community Centre where they had been living for almost a year since the passage of tropical storm Erika in August 2015. The village of Dubique is on the south coast of Dominica, nestled around a small river and tightly sandwiched between tall, steep volcanic cliffs that run to the sea.


Dressed in traditional costume, members of the group walk up the broken village road.

The Storm Dancers


A group photograph where a raging torrent tore apart the village road.


During the storm, the river became a torrent, tearing away the single village road, destroying property and ultimately forcing an evacuation. Though many homes remained standing, the government deemed the village too dangerous and its inhabitants were offered temporary shelter in and around the nearby community of Grand Bay. People seemed to fill every inch of the community centre’s upper floor. Laundry hung all around, children cried, women chatted on steps, and the smell of cooking drifted across the still afternoon. An old man sat alone on a bench, staring vacantly ahead, as if he were still watching the river burst its banks and tear down utility poles and trees. Outside the building, a tarpaulin stretched over makeshift wooden pews and a lectern. This is where the group members and I sat in the sultry heat of the afternoon, weighing each other up, talking about the group, the storm, cultural heritage, and the article I would like to write about them. Formed in 2003, the group currently has nine members, seven of whom are women. Most are related as cousins and have common ancestral ties to a cultural icon of Grand Bay, Ma Tutu. A prominent member of the community, Ma Tutu was responsible for passing down Creole traditions of music, dance and dress. These traditions find their roots in colonial Dominica and slavery. Although the British and the French had agreed in 1680 to leave Dominica to the indigenous Kalinago, a trickle of migrants from the neighbouring French island of Martinique began to arrive in the early 1700s and settlements were established, gradually nudging the Kalinago into the less accessible hinterlands. The migrants occupied the area that is now known as Grand Bay. They spread across the south west to Soufriere and up to Roseau, bringing with them enslaved Africans to work on their estates. During this period of European colonisation and slavery, the Kalinago became ever more marginalised and French and later British estates sprang up all around the island. Although Dominica was eventually ceded to the British, it was the proximity of the French islands, mixed with surviving African tribal traditions such as dance, dress, food, belief systems and language, that came together to form French Creole. This fusion of heritage The Storm Dancers


Dancing the bélé in Dubique.


and tradition dominated the cultural landscape and remains strong in the south of Dominica and particularly in the Grand Bay area. Commonly worn by women from as far back as the 1800s right up to the 1960s, the wob dwiyet is now only ever donned by cultural groups or during periods of Creole and Independence celebrations in October and November each year. It began life as a dress that was worn on Sundays or Feast Days when enslaved women were able to discard drab uniforms and wear something more colourful. Over the years the style of wob dwiyet has been modified and accessories have been added, but the basic combination of bright madras skirt over white chemise, often with lace adornments, coloured head scarf and kerchief, is in essence the same as the dress that was worn in times of slavery. The wearer of the wob dwyet is known as the matador and for more formal occasions she may also choose to wear a headpiece, or tête en l’air, made of a square piece of madras. Central to the wob dwiyet’s colour, madras was originally Indian cotton, known as injiri, made by the Kalabari people in the vicinity of Chennai (formerly Madras). French, English and Portuguese merchants were involved in its trade and are thought to have brought it to West Africa where it became popular with Igbo tribal women. During their performances, the members of the Dubique Cultural Group wear modern madras styles and variations of traditional wob dwiyet. Their repertoire includes a number of dance forms but it is for their interpretation and performance of the bélé that they are particularly noted. The bélé is a dance of African origin that is accompanied by a song that is sung in Creole. The centrepiece of the dance is the drum, known as the tambou twavail or tambou bélé. It is a traditional goat skin, or la peau cabwit, drum that provides a resonating rhythm along with strong echoes of Africa. The group’s drummer, Carlton Merrifield, known by all as Abio, tells me he remembers playing the drum with Ma Tutu when he was a child.

the dance reaches its conclusion the drum is booming loudly and the man and the woman are dancing together with quick steps and vigorous body movements, symbolising their union. After we have talked and relaxed into each other’s company, we arrange to meet again in a couple of weeks. I asked them how they would feel about returning to Dubique, to tell me about what happened during the storm, and to perform a bélé among the ruins of the abandoned village. I am excited when they eagerly agree to the idea. Two weeks later we head up the narrow village road as far as we can before it ends; severed in two by the power of water, mud and rocks. Houses still stand around us and I meet a woman carrying a container of water on her head that she has fetched from a spring higher up the valley. She stops to say hello and I learn that she comes back here to live from time to time. “Until it rains,” she says. “Then I go back to the community centre. But I don’t like it there. This is my home.” While changing into their traditional costumes, some members of the group tell me that they too have returned to Dubique on occasion since the storm, to collect belongings or to harvest produce from their yards. A couple of them have spent the night, but they tell me it had been a strange, rather unnerving experience. Looking around, it is very easy to understand why. The vertiginous cliffs and narrow river valley mean there is no easy escape. During the storm, some of the group managed to get to higher ground, away from the torrent. Some stood on flat rooftops or verandas out of reach of the water, others scrambled down the valley to the coast. All agree it was terrifying.

“It’s been a passion ever since,” he smiles.

Despite this, there is a sense of shouldershrugging and just getting on with life; something I have often seen in Dominica by a people who seem determined not to let an event like this bother them too much; or at least, if it does, not to show it outwardly. I ask them if returning to Dubique makes them emotional in any way.

The dance moves reflect a courtship between a man and a woman as they move in turn towards the drum, responding to its rhythm. By the time

‘For sure, a little,” says Nadia, the group’s lead dancer. “But I suppose we are accustomed by now.” The Storm Dancers



I remind myself that almost a year has passed and that the events of that night would surely have faded by now, but I can see on their faces as they look around and explain to me what happened, that there is still a sense of loss and bewilderment. They have homes here, many still standing, but they cannot return to them on a permanent basis. “It’s too dangerous,” some of them say in unison. The group members receive no financial assistance to do what they do and the money for the madras and the seamstress work comes out of their own pockets. When I think about this and look at these nine people before me, I realise how fragile the continuation of cultural tradition really is. Despite everything that has happened to them, and how difficult it is to make ends meet, they choose to go on dancing. Fully attired in bright madras and wob dwyet, the group assembles near the wide break in the village road. Abio positions himself on an old chair he has borrowed from a nearby building and starts to beat his drum. Miriam, Julia, Juline, Esther and Corinthia begin to sing, and a shiver runs down my spine. The song that accompanies bélé is in Creole, often a conversation between a man and a woman, either portraying the despair of enslavement, or of the joy of liberation. For slaves on estates Creole became a way of communicating in a language that the slave masters may not have easily been able to understand and the lyric describing a simple conversation disguised a deeper meaning yet further. They perform such a song now; about a woman lending a man a shirt, but instead of wearing it, he uses it to collect wawa, a type of wild yam that was commonly eaten and traded at the time. Barefooted, Nadia and Leon dance on the road in front of the drum, moving away from and then closer to each other, Nadia spreading her madras skirt and Leon raising his arms like wings. Colourful, beautiful and against an enchanting accompaniment of song, it is like watching a courtship ritual. The beat grows quicker, the voices and the drum louder, the dancers ever closer to each other, eventually almost entwined. A more incongruous scene there could never be; this display of love, music, sexuality and life against a backdrop of silence, abandonment and decay.

When the dance is over, we decide to take a walk, crossing the river and broken road towards the top of the village. A half-finished church stands empty, and Leon takes me to a tumble-down shack where a faded image of Ma Tutu still hangs. She is wearing madras. Homes give way to bush, rocks and boulders. A utility pole sags, holding on but perilously close to giving up the ghost. Nadia sits on a large rock in contemplation, her wob dwyet contrasting starkly with the bleakness. Fruit is ripening on a pommerac tree in the yard of Corinthia Defoe who recalls the night of the storm. “I had nowhere to go so I just stayed in my home and watched the water rising all about,” she says. “It was big and brown, covering the road.” “Were you afraid?” “Yes, oui. But I survive, thank God.” On the walk back down through the village the group tells me how draining it has been living in the community centre for so long. “We’re on top of each other all the time,” says Julia, the group’s leader. “There’s no privacy at all. We are all looking forward to getting out of there.” They hope and expect to be moving out of the community centre soon. Their new homes will be in an area of Grand Bay where mass produced, low cost housing from Venezuela, known as ‘petro casas’, or ‘oil houses’, are being constructed in a purpose-built community. I ask what will happen to their homes and yards in Dubique once they have moved out of the community centre and resettled in new houses in Grand Bay. But no-one really knows, nor has a plan. In fact there’s a sense of embarrassment at not really having an answer. They speculate that perhaps they will come and grow vegetables in their yard but I sense that memories of the storm will always be in their minds and that they are eager for the chance to move on and make a clean and fresh start. “But we will always be from Dubique,” says Nadia resolutely. “It is our home, our heritage, and always in our hearts.” The Storm Dancers



Traveller Notes

The main road through Dubique was destroyed in the passing of storm Erika. Image by Nadia Alexanda.

The Dubique Cultural Group needs your support. To discuss and book a performance of traditional dance, contact either Julia or Miriam Bruno on (767) 616 4192. You can also get in touch with them via the Division of Culture which is based at the Old Mill Cultural Centre in Canefield. Tropical Storm Erika hit Dominica in August 2015. There was very little by way of wind but the volume of rainfall caused widespread devastation. Countless land- and mudslides fell rapidly down steep hillsides and mountain slopes; streams and rivers became raging torrents of water, mud, rocks, boulders and trees. Many roads were damaged by rivers and numerous bridges were swept away, while other routes were blocked by huge landslides. The villages of Delices and Boetica in the south east were cut off for months after the Boetica River flooded and ripped out earth and road, cutting a deep, wide gorge that could only be passed on foot and with rope and pulleys. The villages of Colihaut, Dubique and Petite Savanne were particularly badly affected. In Petite Savanne 18 people are believed to have died in the storm and only a third of the bodies have ever been recovered. Almost a year later, Bailey bridges span the gaps where roads used to be. Except for the road between Petite Savanne and Delices, all main roads are accessible though many are still being repaired. The villagers of Dubique are being re-housed in Grand Bay and a new community is about to be built in Bellevue Chopin for the former residents of Petite Savanne. The Storm Dancers


Zandoli Inn Stowe, Grand Bay Perched on a cliff side overlooking Grand Bay and the ocean, Zandoli Inn offers very comfortable, yet relaxed accommodation to independent travellers seeking an authentic Dominica experience. Intimate and artistically designed, Zandoli’s five ensuite bedrooms have private balconies with panoramic views. The restaurant serves really great food with a daily menu that is set according to what is fresh. Nestled between two fishing villages, seafood at Zandoli is always a great choice. Just 25 minutes from Roseau and dive shops, and with an in-depth knowledge of the south of the island, Zandoli is an ideal base from which to explore. Hikes and tours can be arranged for you and the coral reef at the foot of the gardens is excellent for snorkelling. Holiday-making friends can also rent out the whole inn as a private villa. T: (767) 446 3161 E: FB: Zandoli Inn Dominica

Cocoyea Bar & Grill Soufriere Located in the pretty fishing village of Soufriere, within walking distance of the volcanic Bubble Beach and the iconic 19th century Roman Catholic Church of St Mark, Cocoyea is one of the most popular eateries in the south west. You’ll find our restaurant is patronised by both locals and visitors enjoying a fresh fusion of delicious Creole and international fare – everything from burgers and fries to haute Caribbean cuisine – whatever you fancy. Seafood is always a specialty but everything tastes good here. Friendly and welcoming, Cocoyea is great value and ideally placed for lunch and dinner when exploring the natural attractions of the south. Open 12noon to 10pm Tuesday-Saturday. Closed Sunday-Monday.

T: (767) 285 7536 & 617 6129 E: FB: Cocoyea Bar & Grill 58

La Bou Cottage Soufriere Set in an acre of private gardens, La Bou Cottage is one of Dominica’s most uniquely designed and original places to stay. Truly an artistic creation, there is nothing else like it. La Bou is also extremely comfortable, peaceful and romantic. Honeymooning couples often head for the ‘birdhouse’, some prefer the delightful main cottage, and others head for a hammock in the garden pavilion. This private hideaway retreat can sleep up to 6 people and has all you need – fully equipped kitchen, indoor and outdoor dining, WiFi, restroom and shower. Located just 5 minutes from the quaint fishing village of Soufriere and 20 minutes from Roseau, La Bou Cottage is ideal for couples, honeymooners or a group of holidaymaking friends. It’s the perfect place to relax, unwind and rediscover yourself. T: (767) 265 7826 / (305) 297 2087 / (305) 901 9113 E: Find us on Facebook

Rodney’s Wellness Retreat Kanawa Brooklyn, Soufriere In the colourful setting of CarRod`s Gardens, full of fruit trees and flowering plants, hang up a hammock, pitch your tent, or rent one of ours – all facilities are available – or perhaps you’d like to overnight in one of our peaceful one bedroom cottages, surrounded by four mountain peaks. Each has private bathroom, living room, kitchenette and WiFi. We offer guests and public al fresco dining and we serve traditional dishes using our home grown chemical free produce, freshly caught fish, chicken and pork. Hiking and sightseeing tours are not a problem – anything can be arranged for you. Pick whatever fruits you fancy while staying with us, and relax in our large swimming pool, surrounded by the warm embrace of nature T: (767) 440 8222 / 612 2400 / 613 3417 E: FB: Rodneys Retreat Instagram: Wellness Dominica Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


Morne Patates Archaeological Study “Two thousand years of history is right here in Soufriere and it’s just underneath the soil.” Mark W. Hauser M.A., Ph.D., F.S.A Associate Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University


Archaeologist Khadene Harris looks for clues in a test hole.

Morne Patates Archaeological Study


In the first issue of Dominica Traveller we followed Mark Hauser and his team of archaeologists on their first field season at sites in the Soufriere region. They excavated slaves’ houses, yards and nearby provision grounds and were able to paint a picture of how the enslaved of the estate may have lived, what they perhaps grew and ate, and possibly how they communicated and traded with both runaways (Maroons) and the enslaved of other estates in the south of Dominica as well as Martinique. Significant findings included storage pits, a range of ceramics, fragments of pipes, so-called ‘gaming disks’, and evidence of crops that included maize, barley, millet and coffee. Some questions were answered, many more were raised. In the summer of 2016 Mark returned to Dominica for a second field season, this time examining new sites of interest in an area of around one hectare in size on Morne Patates – just along the road between the villages of Soufriere and Galion. Documentary evidence suggests that two families were associated with ownership of the functioning estate, that there were around 36 wooden slave houses and a total of 150 slaves, all living in a space around the size of a football field. During his field seasons, Mark and his team have been attempting to uncover some of the structures that existed here and to try to learn a little more about what life may have been like from some of the artefacts they discover. In a location dubbed ‘House Area D’, on the road to Galion a little higher up from the ruins of the main Morne Patates estate house, the team discovered post holes, nails, French ceramics and cooking vessels, and a cooking pit with remnants of charcoal and fish bone. The findings suggested wooden board houses and yards where slaves would have lived, possibly over more than one period of occupation. Anyone familiar with the paintings of Agostino Brunias, an Italian artist who lived in Dominica between 1771 and 1796, would know that his work depicts in great detail life on the estates. In his paintings of slave houses, we see that they are post and beam structures with sidings of wattle and daub with mud plaster (replaced later by nailed planking). 62

Searching for artefacts in House Area D.

A little further down the hill from House Area D, an excavation that was expected to uncover evidence of similar structures provided a surprise. Instead of post holes of wooden slave houses, the team unearthed a stone road with a retaining wall. This discovery forced the team to rethink the probable layout of the estate, and in particular the outlying buildings and slave houses. Mark speculated that such a road was likely to have been part of a loop. Based on his knowledge of other 18th century estates, it probably assisted with the flow of people, produce and traders who would have been constantly coming and going. Clearing the site of the main estate house revealed a picture of three occupations; one defined by post holes and a cooking pit, and the later two (probably 1740s onwards and then 1780s onwards) by overlapping stone foundation walls. Though it appears confusing on the ground, historically, it would probably have been quite common for settlers to begin with a simple wooden house, or ti kai, and then progress to a smaller and then larger stone structure. Slaves would have been tasked with shaping the stones by hand.

Children from Soufriere Primary School sifting earth for artefacts. A large nail is discovered.

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Blacksmith’s tongues.

Clay pipe fragments.

Saintonge pottery artefacts.


A painting by Agostino Brunias.

In the glacis, excavations uncovered ceramic fragments consistent with discoveries so far but also artefacts of Amerindian origin, in particular what is known as cayo pottery. This poses the question of how it got here during the period of European occupation. Was there some kind of interaction through trade or had it simply been purchased at some point in the past? Mark is also willing to entertain the notion that Amerindians may have been part of the enslaved though there is no documentary evidence, so far, to support such a hypothesis. The excavation of the stables area uncovered a stone floor, boundary walls and several artefacts. The team also discovered a post hole suggesting a wooden structure had been there before the later stone building was erected. “Facts are not created equal: the production of traces is always also the creation of silences.” Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Haitian academic and anthropologist. Over the period of the two field seasons in Dominica, 42 team members were involved in the work; 14 of whom were from Soufriere. A total of 11 universities and museums were involved in some way with the project and 10 national archives. Children from the neighbouring Soufriere Primary School were invited to the site where they joined in with excavations, sifting soil for artefacts, identifying, categorising and cataloguing finds.

Two types of ceramics helped to date the occupations; faience and saintonge. Saintonge is a ceramic style that dates back to the middle ages and was around until the 1760s and 70s.

Getting the local community of Soufriere involved in the field season has been an integral part of the project. In addition to local team members and school trips, Mark and his colleagues have been giving regular presentations and updates. Given this field season brings the work to a close – funding only goes so far after all – Mark’s thoughts turn to what happens next for the site he has been working on, as well as all the other areas of archaeological interest in the south west of Dominica.

Excavations in the grounds around the location of the main estate house were in the glacis (drying area, probably for coffee) and what was, in all likelihood, the stables which date from the 1760s to the 1830s.

He suggests the development of a heritage trail in the Soufriere region that would help to protect sites and be part of a community based heritage program that might employ expert guides, resource wardens and site stewards.

Excavating the stables area.

Morne Patates Archaeological Study


Traveller Notes


For the lay person it can be somewhat difficult to understand how archaeology works, how archaeologists know where to find things and, when they do, how they are able to identify and date them.

form of academic papers, databases, libraries, museums, published texts etc. Archaeologists themselves are usually specialists in particular areas, and a typical team like Mark’s will usually consist of a broad range of skill sets and expertise.

The first thing we have to understand is that lots of similar archaeological studies have already been undertaken and recorded over the years, so there is always an existing wealth of evidence and information to look at, compare and help with identification, dating and so on. This comes in the

Before starting on the fieldwork, Mark and his team will have undertaken lots of background research that will have helped them better understand and appreciate the areas that interest them the most.

When they get to a field or rough area of land they

wish to excavate, they clear it of surface debris (rocks, branches, leaves and any other detritus) and then dig a series of small test holes that will either immediately reveal something of interest or will paint a picture of history from the different soil layers (stratification). From all of the test holes, the team then try to ‘zero in’ on an area that they feel could reveal something interesting and they carefully excavate one soil layer at a time. In the case of the slave village, the excavations reveal post holes. Though at first very difficult for the lay person to identify, post holes to an archaeologist are much more obvious. As their name suggests, these are holes where wooden posts were once driven into the ground to support a wooden building. Of course over time they become filled with soil but they are also full of the rotten, decomposed remains of the wooden posts themselves, so the earth is often darker and less compact than the surrounding soil. The team carefully excavate these holes and, when they find several in a straight line, they are usually able to identify where wooden houses once stood.

date range from the 1730s to the 1780s. This means that the archaeology of these sites is from the period of European colonisation. So if you find certain ceramics within certain soil layers, you can reasonably accurately date that layer and thus anything else of interest you may find there. Questions may then be asked. For example, if French ceramics and other artefacts are dated to the period of the British occupation of Dominica, does this suggest that there was still a healthy trade going on with France? If the same gaming disks are found in two different places, does this suggest some form of communication or connection between the enslaved? Quite often these questions will remain unanswered or unproven – suggestions, theories and problems for the next archaeologists to try to solve.

The discovery of an 18th century road.

Artefacts such as ceramics and nails will usually validate their findings and paint a better picture of the size and composition of the structure. Technology helps too. A camera drone can capture images from above the site, giving a clearer picture of layout than at ground level. When the team can identify the layout of buildings, they can then see where yards would have been and sometimes they find the remnants of charcoal burning; in other words, outside kitchens. Carefully excavate these areas and you may discover animal bones (often fish) and burned seed kernels. This helps to suggest what may have been eaten and grown or traded. Charred seed kernels are identified under a microscope and occasionally reveal something unusual or new; in the case of this Soufriere study, barley was a surprise as this crop typically does not grow well in a tropical climate. Ceramic artefacts are the best aid in putting dates to soil excavation layers. Mark’s particular passion is ceramics and from the fragments the team uncover, he is able to identify where those ceramics came from and when and where they were made. The ceramics unearthed at the site came from France and Britain and provided a Morne Patates Archaeological Study


Le Petit Paradis Wotten Waven, Roseau Valley Step into a world of traditional Dominica Creole where you will find a warm welcome, great tasting food, and comfortable and relaxing family-run accommodation. Located in the village of Wotten Waven, just a short walk from hot volcanic pools and close to Trafalgar Falls, Le Petit Paradis can comfortably accommodate 20 people in 11 private rooms and apartments. And if you are hiking the Waitukubuli National Trail, you can walk right into Le Petit Paradis from Segment 3 and either pitch your tent or rest your weary muscles in the garden Hammock Shack. Decorated in bamboo and traditional madras, the open-sided restaurant enjoys great mountain views and serves traditional Creole fare all day, every day – though please call ahead if you can. Groups and functions are also welcome with advance bookings. Le Petit Paradis has WiFi, it has a gift shop with a selection of original souvenirs, t shirts and homemade produce including Joan’s famous and sought-after Bullet Punch. Laundry, certified tour guiding and transportation are also available. Visa and Mastercard accepted. Authentic Dominican Creole, ideally located for hikers, nature-lovers and wellness seekers, either stay or enjoy traditional cuisine with Joan and her family in their beautiful little paradise.

T: (767) 440 4352 / 276 2761 / 285 7425 E:


Bluemoon Cottage & Studio Morne Prosper Located in tropical gardens above the Roseau Valley with easy access to hiking trails and hot springs, Bluemoon is private, peaceful accommodation at 300m that suits couples, families and individual travellers. The charming 2-bed Cottage has a lounge, fully-equipped kitchen, bathroom, laundry and porch. The 1-bed Studio has a fully-equipped galley kitchen, porch and laundry. AC and fans if needed. Rent either the studio, cottage or entire house. T: (767) 275 5284 E:

River Rock CafĂŠ Trafalgar Just a short distance to Trafalgar Falls, the hot volcanic spas of Wotten Waven and the main trails of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, River Rock Cafe is the ideal stopping-off point for hikers, explorers and nature lovers. Open daily for great local food, snacks and drinks, dinner by reservation, and an awesome rum punch, guests can relax on our dining deck, take in fabulous river views, or even enjoy a refreshing swim. Perfect! T: (767) 225 0815 Find us on Facebook

Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery



Going Underground Give your hiking boots the day off, don a harness and a helmet, and try canyoning. It’s not really underground, but it sure feels a lot like it. If you look up, you can see the roots of trees hanging over the sides of the canyon, vines reach down like tendrils, the sun flashes through the rainforest canopy high above, illuminating smooth walls and sparkling pools. It’s an odd feeling to be down beneath the trees, to crane your neck upwards to see the sky through a narrow window in the earth. I float in a river pool; on either side of me the canyon looms tall.

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Learning the ropes on a practice wall.


To get down here we walked a short distance downstream from Ti Tou Gorge and then rappelled with rope and harness down the side of a waterfall. It was an exhilarating experience, leaning back over the edge as white water rushed by and tumbled down below. And then descending; walking down the wall like a spider; down and down, until slipping silently into the cold, clear water of the river. And there was more to come; after all, now we were down here, there was only one way for us to get out again – to keep going, to continue down river. We had several more waterfalls and cascades to negotiate before we would surface; some of them we would rappel, others we would jump. I had been canyoning before, though not since tropical storm Erika; for the other travellers, this was their first time and I tried to read their facial expressions. Was it excitement or was it nerves? Perhaps it was a bit of both. Tropical storm Erika completely changed the dynamic of the canyon; effortlessly shifting boulders the size of cars, creating brand new cascades and slides. The water level today was a little higher than usual because of recent rains and the waterfalls and pools were full and fast flowing. Looking around at the canyon wall formations, basalt and granite shaped over the millennia by nothing but the power of this water, it was easy to imagine how this canyon would have looked during the height of the 2015 storm. We swam through a deep pool until our feet could touch the ground. Climbing out, we journeyed on over smooth rock and through shallow water, river trekking, moving gradually downstream. We walked through rapids and down gentle cascades until we reached bigger drops where we had a choice of either rappelling or jumping down into a pool below. When you stand on a narrow ledge, water rushing over your feet and around your legs, and you look down at a deep emerald pool, your mind does funny things with your whole sense of being. What on earth do I think I’m doing here? And then you make that leap, instinctively tucking your legs into a crouch; one hand on your helmet, the other covering your nose. You hit the water with force, submerge for a few seconds, and then surface. You take a breath, clear your eyes and turn around to see what you have just done. And in that fleeting moment you feel more alive than you have for days. Going Underground


It’s not a feeling of survival; though I suppose there is some of that to it. It’s more a feeling of energy and life. What you are doing is very real, it’s a rush, it connects you with nature at its most dramatic, it’s a little scary, and there is a hint of danger. Just enough to give you a buzz, to make you excited; not enough to make you panic and scream. Not yet anyway. Mastering the techniques of rappelling is not especially difficult; essentially all you have to do is hold a rope and let it feed in a controlled manner through your hand. More difficult is telling your mind to trust the technique, and, moreover, to trust the rope. At the top of a waterfall your guide hooks you to a safety line while explaining how to negotiate the rappel. The next bit is tricky and it makes your legs wobble. Once your rope and rappelling knot or device has been set, you have to stand on the edge of the drop and turn your back to it. Then you lean backwards, keeping your feet on the edge, feeding the rope slowly through your hand until you are leaning out, perpendicular to the rock wall. And then there you are, hanging horizontally at the top of a waterfall, tethered to the earth by a piece of string. Slowly you walk backwards, remaining perpendicular, feeding more rope. Soon you feel alone on the wall, the waterfall is rushing down next to you, sometimes on top of you, pounding your helmet, completely obscuring your view of everything. And you keep walking right down to the bottom where the cold water of a pool embraces you. Now free of the rope, you float backwards, looking up towards the top of the waterfall where the next canyoneer is nervously moving into position on the edge. From the pool the waterfall doesn’t seem very high, yet from the top it felt like a mountain. You smile at the trepidation of the next canyoneer; now you have done it. More rappels, more jumps, more intoxicating beauty as the canyon twists and turns like a corkscrew, leading you ever onwards. We see bats huddled in their hundreds in the shady nooks of rock crevices, and we catch an occasional glimpse of freshwater shrimp, crabs, and the fleeting blue flashes of adult gobies. Canyoning in many other places of the world often requires a long journey, perhaps even wilderness skills and experience, and the journey through 74

The hidden beauty of Dominica’s river canyons. Going Underground


the canyon itself can sometimes take days. In Dominica the canyons are very accessible and the river hikes relatively short, making them attractive to complete beginners as well as seasoned adventure travellers. Our trip down river comes to an end three hours later at Cathedral Canyon, a wide cylindrical formation with a tall waterfall and large pool. Like organ pipes, tree roots and numerous thick liana vines hang down from the forest above, and sunbeams filter through rainforest green like light on a stained glass window. Just beyond the canyon, a small tributary joins the main river and it is up this stream that we now make our way. Out of the canyon, we trek for twenty minutes or so through the forest until we emerge on the road to the Boiling Lake trailhead, just a few minutes away from where we began our adventure. Our guides tell us about their journeys through some of Dominica’s other canyons, their stories tempting us all to come back for more. 76

Practice over, it’s time to rappel down into the canyon. Going Underground


Traveller Notes

Dominica has two canyoning operators and both have been doing it for a long time. Ti Nath Kanion ( is a one-woman outfit led by Nathalie who canyons in Dominica for half the year and France for the other. Extreme Dominica ( is affiliated with Cocoa Cottages and was originally set up by canyoneer and pilot Richard Metawi. Both operators take first-timers and novices to the same stretch of canyon located below Ti Tou Gorge. Depending on group size, the trip can take between two to four hours and rather weirdly you end up not far from where you started. More experienced canyoneers could continue down the same canyon, ending with a rappel down the Father Falls at Trafalgar. Advanced canyoneers are able to take on the ultimate challenge of a tenhour trek down the Breakfast (Trois Pitons) River, negotiating over 30 waterfalls before rappelling down the Mother Falls at Trafalgar. C





First-timers get tuition and practice on a small wall at Extreme Dominica in Shawford. Nathalie of Ti Nath Kanion teaches you on the fly. Each operator has a slightly different rappelling technique; both are easy to pick-up. All equipment is provided (wetsuit, helmet, harness, dry bag, floatation jacket if you need it). Just bring swimwear, towel, and trainers you don’t mind getting wet (no open-toe sandals). CY



As with any adventure sport, canyoning does have its share of danger but this is mitigated as much as possible by training and the knowledge and experience of your guides. Heavy rainfall can be a factor in Dominica, occasionally causing flash flooding. Obviously this would be bad news in a canyon where there is no way out other than downstream. For this reason canyoning operators take weather forecasts and prevailing conditions very seriously and will postpone a trip if they consider conditions too risky. Other natural hazards such as strong undercurrents, hydraulics, keeper potholes, or sieves are rarely a factor in normal conditions here. There are also no narrow slots to negotiate. 78

Canyoning &

Adventure Tours

T: (767) 295 6828

COCOA COTTAGE Dominica Mind Body Adventure

“An artistic guesthouse, close to hiking trails & hot spas. A perfect place to stay for travellers seeking adventure & relaxation, for those who appreciate nature & the essence in life.� T: (767) 276 2920

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Garraway Hotel Roseau Located on the Roseau Bay Front, within the Old French Quarter and near the cruise ship jetty, Garraway is a hotel of international standards and reputation. An ideal choice for both the business and leisure traveller, its deluxe rooms and suites are well appointed and spacious; they have en suite bathrooms, AC, WiFi and fans. The modern conference room can accommodate up to 175 and is perfect for business meetings, workshops and social functions. Delicious fine Creole and international cuisine is served daily in the Balisier Restaurant and more casual drinks and dining can be enjoyed in the Ole Jetty Bar or on our open-air rooftop terrace. We pride ourselves on excellence and extend a warm welcome to all our Garraway visitors. T: (767) 449 8800 E:

Some Pairs Are Better Together Choose a financial partner that shares your goals and can help you meet them.

For over 38 years, NBD has provided solutions to local, regional and international clients. We offer a full suite of financial services and are the market leader across core business lines. NBD is a major player in the corporate banking arena, with affiliations with other indigenous banks in the Eastern Caribbean. We have the largest network of branches, ATMs and Points of Sale in the market. NBD is committed to being an ambassador of economic and social progress in Dominica.


National Bank of Dominica Ltd. | 64 Hillsborough Street | Roseau | Dominica

(767) 255-2300

Urban Garden Cafe 8 Castle Street, Roseau Healthy, organic and delicious; Urban Garden’s daily menu offers a mouth-watering choice that includes lunch specials, wraps, tacos, stuffed waffles, rotis, salads, burritos, vegan options and more. Using fine, fresh ingredients, Urban Garden’s breakfasts, lunches and daytime snacks are served at unbeatable prices. Looking for great tasting, healthy food in the Roseau area? Drop into Urban Garden Cafe in the French Quarter. Open 8am-5pm Mon-Thu, until midnight on Fri, and 10am-5pm Sat. T: (767) 317 8888 E: FB: urbangardencafe

Riverstone Bar & Grill Bells If you are en route to or from the Kalinago Territory, or have been enjoying the Emerald Pool, Spanny Falls, or the Jacko Steps Trail, drop in to Riverstone near Bells in the Heart of Dominica and relax in our lovely river pools and lush tropical gardens. Enjoy great food and drink in the covered restaurant or on the open deck; with occasional live music. Open Sundays; happy to accommodate groups by prior reservation on other days. T: (767) 449 3713 / 317 3663 FB: riverstone.dominica

Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


Crater Lake Hiking Dominica’s iconic Boiling Lake usually steals the hiking headlines, but the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has other crater lake trails that are well worth a walk.


A view from a western ridge. At the top, Boeri Lake. Below it you can see two more lakes; one tiny, the other a little bigger. A further lake is out of shot to the right. Article Title or Section Title?


The Boeri Lake

The more beaten track to Boeri Lake begins to the north of the Freshwater Lake. 84

Nestled between the Morne Micotrin and Morne Trois Pitons volcanoes, and surrounded by dense rainforest and montane thicket, is the two-hectare Boeri Lake. At an elevation of around 850m, it is Dominica’s highest lake. The name Boeri, formerly written Boery, first appeared on Thomas Jeffrey’s survey map of 1768. It referred to the Boery Quarter and the Boery River that ran down from the interior and out to sea north of Roseau in what is now Canefield. The map makes no reference to the lake, nor does a revision in 1775, or a far more detailed French map of 1778. The name, like many in Dominica, has Amerindian origins, though its meaning is unclear. Hidden within a valley to the west of Boeri are three further crater lakes, so far unnamed, that are only accessible with the aid of a sharp machete and a knowledgeable guide. I have been to this trinity of hidden lakes on two occasions; the first on a there-and-back trip from the Boeri Lake; the second via a longer track from Middleham, up and across a vertiginous mountain ridge, in all likelihood a crater rim, steeply down to the three lakes, and then on to Boeri. Both journeys are difficult as you must pass through dense montane thicket and cloud forest. When you are deep within the untouched vegetation of the interior, and on a track that has only just been cut, this small Caribbean island suddenly seems very big indeed. The more beaten track to Boeri Lake begins to the north of the Freshwater Lake. It is signposted and, these days, easy to follow. Most hikers will reach the lake within an hour. On the way to the trailhead a fresh water stream runs alongside the narrow road. Water cascading down the steep slopes of the Morne Micotrin volcano is captured here, and some of it is hot. The volume of water is striking, as are the streams that run down from the mountain and cross the Boeri Lake Trail itself, forming the Clarke’s River and meandering eastwards along the floor of a deep valley until meeting the Rosalie River and the sea. Before you meet these infant streams along the Boeri Lake Trail, the route takes you upwards Article Title or Section Title?


to a ridge that offers great views to the south; of the Freshwater Lake, Morne Anglais, Morne Watt and even a hint of the Valley of Desolation. To the east you can see down to Rosalie Bay and the village of Grand Fond. Usually the only sound you hear other than the music of the mountain streams, is the solitary call of the rufous-throated solitaire, known locally as the mountain whistler. Vegetation along the trail and around the margins of the lake is a combination of montane thicket and elfin woodland. Trees are typically low growing and dense, often covered in moss, lichen and varieties of fern. Clusia, known locally as kaklen, is also common here. It grows in a dense and tangled blanket, some 2-3m high and has thick ovate leaves, dark red, hard-skinned fruit, and small white flowers. Clusia is common at high elevations on Dominica and also in areas of fumarole vegetation where it seems to thrive. Pushing through and between the clusia are mountain palms (Prestoea montana), tree ferns, and around the margins, dense clusters of fuschia montagne (Charianthus alpinus), known locally as kwÊ kwÊ wouj. The lake itself is a flooded volcanic crater. Its level rises and falls quite dramatically with rainfall – research has suggested a fluctuation of over 12m. At its highest level, when all the surrounding boulders of the margins are submerged, the depth of the lake has been estimated to be around 40m. At the bottom you would likely find silt and rocks, and, other than around the flooded shoreline, no aquatic vegetation or fish have ever been observed. Fresh water zooplankton species were recorded in the lake during a study in 2014 but other than this, this body of water would seem to be largely bereft of life. The Boeri Lake can be rather an eerie place, especially in the rain or mist. Swim out from the shore and it is not just the temperature of the water that gives you a chill. The stillness and the silence can be unsettling. Yet this is also a beautiful place; hidden between steep forestcovered hills and mountains in a wilderness that few have ever explored.


Kwé kwé wouj around the margins of the Boeri Lake.

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The Freshwater Lake

On Thomas Jeffrey’s 1768 map the Freshwater Lake is marked simply as ‘The Pond’. On a French map of 1778 it is referred to as ‘Le Lac’ but what is more interesting is the ‘Chemin du Roseau à Rosalie’, a track running from Roseau in the west, all the way across the island to Rosalie in the East, and passing the lake. Today a paved road will aid your journey from Roseau to the Freshwater Lake, and from Rosalie another will take you as far as the village of Grand Fond. But the bit in the middle is still a trail, known today as Chemin L’Etang; the lake trail. It takes around three hours to walk the Chemin L’Etang Trail from the Freshwater Lake to Grand Fond. A less demanding hike is the circular trail around the lake itself. With an area of around four hectares, and some 760m above sea level, the Freshwater Lake receives an annual rainfall of around 900cm per year. The trail around the lake follows its margins as well as narrow ridges to the east. On a clear day there are panoramic views of the surrounding volcanoes; Morne Watt, Morne Micotrin and Morne Trois Pitons. From the ridges you can also see the route of the Chemin L’Etang Trail as it winds along the steep slopes of the river valley to Grand Fond. An unmarked spur runs away from the circular trail and along a high ridge where it splits. One route goes down to the village of Morne Jaune, the other to a high vantage point above the Boiling Lake and Valley of Desolation. Both tracks require a knowledgeable guide who is handy with a machete. Hiking the trail in a counter-clockwise direction from the visitor centre, the path crosses a dam wall and begins a gradual climb from the tangled shrubbery of the lake margins up and along the spine of a narrow ridge. With the lake down to the left, and forest-covered volcanic peaks all around, the wilds of Dominica’s interior fill your field of vision. Vegetation is dense and diverse. Montane thicket and elfin woodland provide perfect growing conditions for mosses, lichen and a myriad of epiphytes such as the impressive bird’s nest anthurium, and a variety of bromeliads. The latter are essential to the health of the forest as they Article Title or Section Title?


provide habitats for many types of arthropods (invertebrate animals with exoskeletons, segmented body and jointed appendages – such as insects and arachnids), as well as herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians). Cyclanthaceae are also common, in particular the Asplundia rigida, better known locally as z’ailes mouches. The ridge path drops down sharply towards the lake at the half-way point, opening up wide vistas of lake and volcanoes, before heading upwards again and then into the wet forest habitat of the lake’s northern margins. Rustlings in the undergrowth tell you anole lizards, amphibians, birds and perhaps agouti are around, but few are easily seen, camouflaged perfectly by tangled thickets, broad leaves and moss coated branches. A pearly-eyed thrasher or perhaps a similar-looking trembler, disturbed, flits agitatedly between contorted limbs, its tail feathers aflutter. Hewn stones and small rocks appear underfoot, and are clearly what remains of a narrow old road; the lake road, Chemin L’Etang. Hiking this final stretch it is easy to picture people walking this track laden with wares, perhaps riding horses, or leading mules or livestock; maybe even slaves, bound for a miserable existence at Rosalie or other east coast estates. As the principle east-west artery, it would have been far busier than it is these days; now altogether serene and undisturbed save for an occasional hiker, a wisp of mist or wind, and the solitary call of a mountain whistler.

Asplundia rigida, better known locally as z’ailes mouches.


The ridge path drops down sharply towards the lake at the half-way point, opening up wide vistas of lake and volcanoes.

Crater Lake Hiking


A bromeliad grows on a moss-covered branch in the montane forest


Traveller Notes Hiking footwear should be rugged, able to stand up to tough terrain, get muddy and wet, keep you upright, and then be able to do it all over again the next day, without fail, and without falling apart. Because of the diversity of terrain, Dominica is very tough on footwear and this should be an important part of your preparation. Unless you are throughhiking the National Trail, all of Dominica’s trails are day hikes – so you don’t need heavy duty trekking boots. Good quality all terrain, low cut hiking shoes work very well. Clothing should be lightweight. T-shirts are fine, though don’t wear your best ones; purpose-made hiking shirts with UV and mosquito protection are great, though more expensive, options. Lightweight shorts that you can swim in and that dry out quickly are good. If you plan on climbing some of Dominica’s peaks then you should also bring long hiking trousers to protect you from razor grass near the summits. Long-sleeve shirts are also good for this and have the added benefit of giving you more protection from mosquitoes or biting ants. A hat to protect you from both rain and the hot sun is advisable, as is a pair of sunglasses. And bring a rain jacket – you will almost certainly need it at some point! A waterproof rucksack or day pack is a good idea but failing that bring along a waterproof bag that you can carry inside a regular pack to protect valuables and sensitive items such as cameras, phones and other handheld devices. A water bottle or a wearable hydration system is a must-have. Some modern day packs and rucksacks have hydration systems built in, and some water bottles have filters that enable you to use tap water (which is usually safe to drink in Dominica) rather than buy bottled spring water each time you go out. If you are trying to minimise your environmental impact, and keep your costs down, then reusable solutions such as these are ideal.

Ferns covering a tree trunk in the wet forest of the lake’s northern margins.

Walking poles do help. Telescopic poles also allow you to stash them when they are not needed. They are a great aid to your legs on long forest trails, they provide support and stabilisation on steep descents, and they are also really useful on river crossings, especially if you are not quite sure how deep the water is. Crater Lake Hiking


Anchorage Hotel, Whale Watch & Dive Centre Castle Comfort, Roseau An ideal location for divers, hikers, whale watchers, adventure seekers, families, friends or yachties. Located just five minutes south of Roseau, we have 32 en suite rooms and suites, swimming pool, poolside bar and lounge, terrace restaurant and PADI dive shop. Recognised as Dominica’s Dive & Whale Watch Pioneers, our award-winning Founder, Directors and dedicated Team personally invite you to come‌ spend some time at home with us. T: (767) 448 2638 E:

Picard Beach Cottages Picard, Portsmouth Strip away the stress at our award-winning hardwood beach cottages nestled among fruits and flowers with the beach at your doorstep. Watch for birds, wildlife and turtles nesting and hatching. Treat yourself to scrumptious fusion food at Le Flambeau restaurant & beach bar between excursions by kayak or rowboat to Secret Beach & Indian River. Hike the nearby trails or snorkel off the reef; gear is provided. End your day with a cocktail & a sunset. Simply perfect. T: (767) 445 5131 | FB: Picard Beach Cottages E:

Harmony Villa Layou Road, Pont Casse Tucked within forested gardens in the Heart of Dominica, near Segments 4 & 5 of the Waitukubuli Trail and many hikes & waterfalls, Harmony Villa is the perfect blend of comfort, artistry and convenience. Refuel & relax in your private Villa or a B&B stop-over. Our four en suite bedrooms, kitchen and open living spaces including a large wrap around veranda offers a real taste of Caribbean living with a touch of luxury. T: (+44) 74 7046 6502 / (767) 245 4166 E: | FB: Harmony Villa Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


Orange cup coral.


The Anatomy of Our Reefs With marine biologist, Arun Madisetti A reef is a biologically produced structure that is composed of millions of organisms called coral. A colony of one type of coral is called a coral head, and an accumulation of coral heads is called a reef. A reef can be made up of one species of coral head or many different ones. The longest reef on earth is the Great Barrier Reef off Australia at 2,013 km long. The second longest is Turneffe Reef off Belize at just over 322 km.

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Soft corals on a sloping reef


Hard and soft corals, barrel sponges.

Longlure frogfish

A coral is a marine invertebrate that lives in colonies. Collectively corals create some of the largest colonial structures and harbour the richest biodiversity on the planet. In order to survive, and thrive, conditions must be just right – similar to what astronomers call the goldilocks zone when studying the universe for planets that may harbour life. The water cannot be too hot or they die, too cold, and they simply won’t grow. Natural light has to be optimum for coral growth and photosynthesis to take place (a process that converts light energy to chemical energy – often associated with plants, and in this case, algae); water clarity has to be good too or they choke on sediment. Most coral reefs are within a zone from the surface down to 30m, although some coral reefs have been found as deep as 60m. And some corals have even been found by remote controlled submarines in extremely deep water, well beyond diving depths. But these examples are extreme; most of the world’s reefs are found much closer to the surface. Because they live in shallow water, coral reefs are fairly vulnerable to violent storms. As they are predominantly found in the tropics due to their need for warm water and sunlight, they are often affected by hurricanes or cyclones. This isn’t necessarily all bad as storms can also assist in maintaining biodiversity between species. Just like trees competing for light in our rainforests, our corals compete with each other, and with other life forms such as sponges and algae, for space, light, and nutrients in the water column. The coral polyp is an animal, usually just a few millimetres in size, and it is able to obtain food from the water column using a set of tentacles that surround a mouth opening. Usually extended at night, the tentacles are loaded with stinging cells to catch plankton. Within the tissues of each coral polyp, they harbour microscopic algae called zooxanthellae. These algae are the basic building blocks of all coral reefs. They use the waste products of corals as the fertilizer they need for photosynthesis, while the corals in turn use the by-products of the photosynthetic process for their own nourishment and to enhance their ability to secrete calcium, thereby creating a limestone The Anatomy of Our Reefs


Volcanic pinnacle - a sponge dominated community.


skeleton that provides the structure for reef growth. The system is so efficient that reefs can actually live in nutrient poor waters because everything is recycled. This symbiotic relationship between the algae and the coral polyp is the most important relationship between any two organisms in tropical reef communities all around the world.

Biodiversity Anyone snorkelling or scuba diving on Dominica’s coral reefs will encounter a myriad of species, all competing for food, shelter or a mate. Reefs harbour the richest biodiversity of life on the planet. It is easy to see this as one big picture, but in reality it is many smaller pictures comprising the whole. A reef is not simply composed of hard and soft corals; also living there are sponges (multicellular organisms with bodies full of pores), ascidians (invertebrate filter feeders), and other motile (able to move) creatures, mostly invertebrate and tiny, all camouflaged to avoid predation. Some of these inhabitants live in symbiosis with coral or sponge, but many derive both food and shelter from the reef as a whole. Some sponges actively bore into the corals and gain protection from the hard exterior as they grow. Fish of course are the most often seen, swimming around coral reef structures. Most species of reef fish are filter feeders, living on planktonic organisms, but some of them have a taste for each other. Groupers, snappers and eels are very efficient reef predators, hunting and eating smaller fish and crustaceans like crabs, shrimp and krill. Shrimp, crabs and worms make their home on the reef formation, usually emerging at night to feed in the relative safety of darkness. Longlure frogfish are often seen on our reefs. Voracious ambush predators, they use camouflage to mimic the reef habitat, often looking rather like a small sponge or hard coral, and use the highly modified first spine of their dorsal fin like a fishing rod. In a movement said to be one of the fastest of all animals, it extends its mouth and sucks in its prey. There are some creatures that feed on the corals themselves. Parrotfish are globally the The Anatomy of Our Reefs


Montastraea cavernosa, the great star coral, being visited by Gobiosoma evelynae, the sharknose goby.


The Anatomy of Our Reefs


most efficient converters of living reef into pure white sand. The crown of thorns starfish is a venomous predator that can bleach areas of reef in a swarm; but fortunately they are not found in our region. Most coral reef systems act as nursery areas for many species of important open ocean food fish that are caught and sold. Groupers and snappers in particular spend their juvenile years among the corals before moving off into open water when they mature.

Dominica’s main reef habitats In promoting our scuba diving product we often state that Dominica has three distinct types of habitat. As our reef systems are relatively young compared to other islands in the region, they are predominantly a rock base upon which coral and sponges have taken hold. Unlike many other islands, our reefs are dominated by sponges which grow faster than corals. In the north the habitat consists of fringing reef and reef slope, where the reef extends from the shore and gradually slopes into deep water; the gradient increasing with depth. These reefs are particularly noted for their impressive elephant ear and iridescent vase sponges. The central region of Dominica’s west coast has the only diveable section of continental shelf. Extending from the shore for about a kilometre, it is a very gently sloping shelf of mostly soft corals, sea rods, plumes and sea-fans. Along its outer rim, the shelf drops steeply into deep water. As the shelf descends the corals change from soft to hard, then to sea whips and sponges. As it is a shelf that extends seawards, the passing currents have enabled the soft coral communities to flourish. This area also has the only true spur and groove (finger reef) along Dominica’s coastline. In the south, Soufriere Bay is a volcanic crater that is thought to have been formed in one of the most explosive eruptions in the region in the last 200,000 years. The reef system here is more dramatic than in the central and northern areas, as it is mostly plunging walls with very little reef shelf. Most sites are located 104

Meandrina meandrites polyps, commonly known as maze coral. Above closed and below extended.

around the rim of the abyss; and crater wall and volcanic pinnacle diving is the norm. Along the shoreline there are several areas of volcanic venting, where hot water or gas seeps may be seen and felt as the heat rises from deep in the magma chamber below. Champagne Reef is the best known. Hard boulder corals tend to dominate the reef top, while plate corals give way to whip corals as the depth increases. Sponges, including large barrel varieties, are found from the crater top down to the depths.

Threats to reef habitats Mostly man made, the threats to global marine ecosystems are many. Pollution from hotels, golf courses, and industry all adversely affect the region’s reef systems. Overfishing is also a factor. Locally the biggest threat to our reefs is ignorance. Illegal dumping of waste materials and garbage over cliffs or into ravines severely impacts the health of our marine environment. Siltation is also a major threat. When the water becomes silted up, filter feeders such as sponges choke to death slowly, as do corals. As the ecotourism capital of the region, we have to take a lead. Grassroots education is happening. It will take time, but adults and the younger generation of Dominicans are becoming more environmentally aware. The first and easiest thing for everyone to do is to dispose of garbage properly. Campaigners also want Dominica to become the first country in the region to completely ban styrofoam products in favour of biodegradable replacements. There are several stores selling alternatives already. Hopefully one day plastic bags and bottles will also be a thing of the past. One of the world’s most published underwater photographers stated in his last visit here that he always loves coming back to Dominica because we have ‘blue water on our reefs’. In many other places he visits in the region, the water is green with pollution from golf courses, pesticides and large hotels. So we still have hope. The Anatomy of Our Reefs


Traveller Notes If you are interested in learning more about Dominica’s marine environment, one of the best ways to do so is to learn to scuba dive and explore our coral reef habitats first hand. Dive operators along the west coast offer training courses for complete beginners to the more advanced. As a young Dominican, learning to dive can also lead to a career in the tourism sector (divemaster or instructor) or be a stepping stone to something else, such as professional photography and film, research, or even marine biology.

An underwater photographer on a sponge dominated crater wall. 106

For visitors to the island, most dive operators offer daily two-tank boat diving. Dominica has gained a reputation for world class scuba diving. Conditions are usually unchallenging, with little or no current on most of the sheltered west coast sites, and visibility is generally excellent.

Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


East Carib Dive Salisbury Beach With over 15 years of Dominica diving experience and the only French/German dive centre on the island, we offer daily two-tank boat dives to the awesome reefs of the west coast. No crowds, just intimate and personalised diving; we regularly see frogfish, grouper, sea horses, rays, barracuda and much more. PADI instruction is available. Our small beachside restaurant and bar serves tasty Creole lunches daily, and we also offer budget accommodation to independent dive travellers. T: (767) 449 6575 / 612 0028 E:

Roots Jungle Retreat Pagua Hills, Northern Forest Reserve Roots Jungle Retreat offers a real jungle experience. Located deep within the Northern Forest Reserve, discover an amazing place of unspoiled rainforest surrounded by Dominica’s mountains. Stay in one of five comfortable cabins and enjoy the sounds of the night-time jungle from your private terrace. Ranked number one specialty lodge in the area by Trip Advisor, the hotel also features a natural pool, jungle trails and a restaurant where delicious meals are prepared by the owner herself. T: (767) 276 1473 / 295 6602 E:


Iguana Café Glanvillea, Portsmouth Iguana is a seafood restaurant with a difference. Rasta couple Jennifer and Cartouche offer high class cooking in rustic and original surroundings, enjoying views of Prince Rupert Bay and the Cabrits. Catch of the day, shrimp, conch – served with fresh vegetables, couscous, rice, grated pawpaw - are just some of the delicious, healthy offerings. Intimate and friendly, Iguana is unmissable. Open daily; turn up for lunch, call ahead for dinner. T: (767) 315 0471

Natural Livity 2 Harbour Lane, Portsmouth Great tasting vegan food is served at Natural Livity where Jamie encourages you to eat healthy and live happy. A musician, foodie and writer, Natural Livity is a further expression of Jamie’s creative side. Open daily, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7am to 11pm, healthy eaters can enjoy a wide selection; from herbal teas to salads, soups and veggie breads and delicious patties. Weight management consultations, herbal supplements and catering are also offered. T: (767) 613 4860 / 295 0513 E: FB: Natural Livity Health Cafe

Sea Breeze Inn Castle Bruce Located on the beach and Waitukubuli National Trail Segment 5 in the east coast village of Castle Bruce, family-run Sea Breeze Inn offers 8 comfortable rooms and great tasting cuisine. Rooms are modern and have private bathroom, fans, TV, WiFi and balcony. Hearty Creole cooking is served daily; don’t miss the popular ‘fully loaded’ breakfast. Warm and friendly, Sea Breeze Inn is ideally placed for WNT hikers and travellers exploring the east. T: (767) 446 0269 • FB: Sea Breeze Inn E: Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


The Private Lives of Hummingbirds Hummingbirds feeding on flowers in forests and gardens is a common sight in Dominica, but is there something else going on, something more intriguing and complex than a simple search for nectar?


Antillean crested hummingbird.

The Private Lives of Hummingbirds


Naturalist Charles Darwin suggested that one of the reasons for differences in appearance, such as size, colour and shape, between males and females of the same animal species (known as sexual dimorphism) may have evolved through the ecology of feeding. This idea was an extension of his observation of finches on the Galapagos Islands in the early 1800s where feeding ecology, as we would describe it today, gave rise to differences in the shapes of birds’ bills between species. He wondered if similar differences could occur between sexes of the same species for the same reasons. The theory of sexual dimorphism that has evolved through the ecology of feeding is one of the main reasons that, almost two hundred years after Darwin, a man by the name of Ethan J. Temeles has spent well over a decade studying hummingbirds on the island of Dominica. Dominica has four species of hummingbird; the green-throated carib (Sericotes holosericeus), the Antillean crested hummingbird (Orythorhyncus


The curved bill of the female purplethroated carib.

cristatus), the blue-headed hummingbird (Cyanophaia bicolour), and the purple-throated carib (Eulampis jugularis). All four are distinct and beautiful, but it is the purple-throated carib that is of particular interest to Ethan. Professor of Biology and Chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at Amherst College in Massachusetts, as well as a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of Natural History, Ethan studied the purplethroated carib first in St Lucia and then from 2001 in Dominica. Antillean crested chicks in a nest.

He has since demonstrated that the purplethroated carib appears to be the sole pollinator of two species of heliconia; Heliconia bihai, which has long curved flowers hidden within its colourful bracts, and Heliconia caribaea, which has short straight flowers. In terms of sexual dimorphism between males and female purple-throats, he has noted that males are about 25% larger than females (the purple-throated carib is actually one of the largest hummingbird species in the world), but that the bills of the females are 30% longer than The Private Lives of Hummingbirds


Inserting test flowers into bracts of a Heliconia bihai. 114

those of males. Not only that, the larger female bill is also far more curved than the short male bill.

Heliconia caribaea is not present. Is this evidence of evolutionary coadaptation?

According to Ethan, bill shape and size and flower shape and size are exactly matched to each other, which means that each sex of the purple-throated carib prefers and feeds most efficiently from the heliconia species whose flowers correspond to its bill size and shape. It should be noted here that purple-throats do not feed exclusively from heliconia, but this is most definitely the plant they prefer because their flowers produce copious amounts of nectar. Many other forest birds also try to feed from heliconia because of this; you will see the other hummingbird species feeding from them as well as bananaquits and Lesser Antillean bullfinches. But they do not pollinate them – in fact the bananaquit and the bullfinch tend to rip open or even eat the flowers in order to get nectar. Pollinating seems to be the sole responsibility of the purple-throat.

For Ethan puzzles like this are what get him out of bed in the mornings, and talking to him it is obvious that there are so many other questions his work raises and that he would love to be able to answer, but which will inevitably become challenges for his successors. He suggests the sands of time are inevitably running out for him on this work – he has, after all, been at it for a very long time. I meet up with him and two of the next generation of research students in a dry forest habitat on the Warner plateau.

Heliconia can grow very tall, reaching heights of over 10m and can have broad leaves that are up to 3-4m in length. The colourful inflorescence (the flower stalk) is what defines the plants and makes them attractive to gardeners and flower growers. Each inflorescence will have up to 24 bracts (modified leaves) that may each hold up to 50 flowers. A single species of heliconia may have a number of colour varieties (known as colour morphs). Hummingbirds are territorial – you may have witnessed them fighting and chasing each other very aggressively – and large males will defend their patch of heliconia in order to be more attractive to females. A male purple-throat with a large number of nectar-laden heliconias in his territory will allow a female or two in to mate and to feed. This is particularly beneficial to a female on a nest, who is rearing and feeding her brood, and therefore unable to guard and get nectar from a patch of her own. Ethan has also noted something even more interesting; this time with the heliconia itself. In areas where Heliconia caribaea is rare, the Heliconia bihai has developed a second morph that has shorter, straighter flowers. In other words, the Heliconia bihai seems to have evolved to produce a second type of flower that the male purple-throat can both feed from and in turn pollinate when

The team have erected a mesh-sided tent. Inside is a female purple-throated carib that they had caught in a net before I arrived. The tent has been placed over a young sapling so the bird has a perch. Also inside are a couple of long sticks with heliconia bihai attached to them. Every few seconds or so the hummingbird leaves the sapling, flies to the heliconias to feed, and then heads back to her perch. I watch, quite mesmerised, for the action seems as regular as clockwork and I hadn’t realised quite how often hummingbirds feed. As soon as the team is satisfied that the bird has visited all of the flowers, they enter the tent and remove them. It seems these are no ordinary Heliconia bihai. The plants and bracts are real enough but the flowers have been extracted, photographed, measured and then reinserted along with some sugar syrup to make up for the lost nectar. This is just one of many different experiments that the team have been undertaking. In this instance they are interested in measuring how much pollen the bird picks up from one flower and transfers to another. Everything is meticulously noted, measured and recorded. Ethan speculates that the coadaptation between the female purple-throat and the Heliconia bihai may have come about as a result of the male’s feeding habits. He suggests that perhaps thousands of years ago when the birds arrived in the islands the much bigger males dominated the Heliconia caribaea to such an extent that the females were left with the much harder to extract nectar of the Heliconia bihai. With time their bills evolved to match the shape of the flowers. And in areas where Heliconia caribaea were scarce, the The Private Lives of Hummingbirds


Adding artificial nectar to the bihai flower.

Heliconia bihai evolved a second morph in order to attract the voracious nectar eating male as a second pollinator. I watch the scientists at work for a while and then notice that the mist net they have set up to catch a male purple-throat has captured a bird. But it is not a purple-throat; it is a gloriously colourful Antillean crested hummingbird. After we have released it, Ethan tells me the female Antillean has a nest in a nearby tree and we walk over to take a peek. The nest is ornate and miniscule. Curled up inside are two tiny chicks. Several days later, I watch a female purple-throat attempting to access the nectar of banana flowers in my garden and notice how its curved bill is poorly suited for the job. The flowers are long and straight. I don’t have any Heliconia bihai in my garden so I make a mental note to get some as I watch the bird straining at an awkward angle, trying to get its bill inside the flower. If Ethan is right then not only has he shown that Darwin’s theory of evolution of sexual dimorphism through the ecology of feeding within the same species may be true in purple-throated hummingbirds, he may also have successfully demonstrated an amazing coadaptative evolution between bird and plant; all happening right under our noses, in our gardens and in our forests. And then as I stand there watching the bird, the full impact of Ethan’s sands of time hits me; for there is still so much to learn. 116

Preparing a bihai flower for the experiment.

Pollen is collected and transferred via the forehead of the purple-throat.

Traveller Notes

The purple-throated carib has a more difficult time feeding on a banana flower.

Around 200 species of bird have been recorded on Dominica, including migratory species, endemics and regional endemics. Dominica’s endemic birds include the imperial Amazon parrot (Amazona imperialis), commonly known as the sisserou. The large and colourful yet extremely elusive sisserou is a highly endangered species and is seen mostly in the elevated mature rainforest of the island’s highest mountain, Morne Diablotin. Dominica’s second endemic parrot is the jaco (Amazona arausiaca), which is smaller than the sisserou, greater in number, and usually found at slightly lower elevations throughout the island’s rainforest interior. Regionally endemic bird species include: the Lesser Antillean swift (Chaetura martinica), the Lesser Antillean flycatcher (Myiarchus oberi), the Lesser Antillean peewee (Contopus latirostris), the forest thrush (Cichlerminia lherminieri), the scalybreasted thrasher (Margarops fuscus), the trembler (Cinclocerthia ruficauda), the plumbeous warbler (Dendroica plumbea), and the Lesser Antillean bullfinch (Loxigilla noctis). The Private Lives of Hummingbirds


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Nestor’s Best Products believe in healthy living. Our Dried Tropical Fruit Snacks are 100% natural, as well as very tasty! We also produce healthy snacks and food items, including organic nuts, seeds, wild rice and agave syrup. You can order fresh pure vegetable and fruit juices with nothing added. Vegetarian, Vegan and Raw Vegan foods can be made to order.

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T: (767) 449 9006 or 617 1665 / 4 E:


Romance Café Beach Bar & Boutique Mero Enjoy the Mero Beach vibe to its fullest at Romance Café where French & West Indian cuisine is created from the natural land and sea gardens of Dominica, using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients available. With a relaxed and friendly ambiance, Romance Café is a cool and convivial escape from the Caribbean sun. Our large, covered beach deck is accessibility friendly and regular cultural events include the annual Easter Sunday Reggae on the Beach Festival; L’Originale! With a sensitivity to love and respect for the environment, our mini boutique sells personally selected Dominican art, craft, t-shirts, natural products and literature. We are open from 10am daily (Nov-Apr); contact us for opening times in the low season. French and German spoken.

T: (767) 449 7922 FB: Romance Dominica

The Tamarind Tree Hotel & Restaurant Salisbury Centrally located on the Caribbean coast, The Tamarind Tree has 15 double rooms with en suite bathrooms, ceiling fans and porch. Superior rooms also have AC. Perched high on a cliff, our guests enjoy fabulous sea views while relaxing in the gardens, pool and Jacuzzi. Three new 2 bedroom self-catering cottages are ideal for independent travellers and families. Each is bright and airy with en suite bathrooms, living area, kitchen and veranda deck. Hotel and cottage guests, as well as the public, enjoy a cooling breeze in our open-sided restaurant while dining on excellent local Creole and international fare. The local Kubuli beer is available on draft! The Tamarind Tree is welcoming, family-friendly with German and French also spoken. We are a proud member of Eco Tropical Resorts. T: (767) 449 7395 E: Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


The invasive anolis cristatellus.

A native zandoli at the Freshwater Lake.

Space Invaders In 1998 a survey recorded only one species of anole lizard on Dominica; the endemic zandoli. Two years later a second species was recorded; an invasive anole from Puerto Rico that spread quickly around the island. So how much do we know about this visitor, and should we be concerned? In 2000, an invasive species of anole lizard (Anolis cristatellus) was recorded near the Woodford Bay Port (Deep Water Harbour), Roseau. It had probably been an inadvertent stowaway on one of the many container ships that ply the Caribbean basin. In 2007 a survey suggested that this introduced species had travelled at least 6km north and 8km south of the port as well as a distance inland (it was recorded at an elevation of approximately 180m). By 2016, the Anolis cristatellus species had made it all the way around to the east coast and seemed to have completely displaced the native zandoli (Anolis oculatus), in much of the south west coastal area. For scientific researchers examining the adaptive behaviour and spread of colonising species, as well as genetic variation and divergence from single introduction events, Anolis cristatellus is an interesting subject for study. And it is through

this kind of research that we may also better understand what is happening to the native zandoli in the face of the accelerating spread of this invasive population. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the invader is attacking and killing the native. This may be true, though we also have to bear in mind that the anole is inherently a territorial creature and will attempt to expel any intruder from its domain, regardless of species. The successful colonisation of Dominica by Anolis cristatellus may also be down to other factors such as reproductive mechanisms, genetics, morphological and behavioural traits, as well as natural selection. It is also worth bearing in mind that back on Puerto Rico there are 13 recorded species of anole inhabiting the island, so Anolis cristatellus has probably evolved to become more competitively robust. Dominica’s zandoli, being the only species, has had the run of the place, until now. Space Invaders


Jeanel holding an invasive anole.


Jeanel and students taking measurements at Castle Bruce.

An expert on the subject is Dr Jacqualine Eales who has visited Dominica to study both the invasive and the native anoles. In the summer of 2016 she was here with Operation Wallacea (Opwall), an organisation that runs a series of biological and conservation management research programmes in remote locations across the globe. These expeditions are available for school and university students to join in. Due to its uniqueness in the Caribbean, Opwall has recently added Dominica to its list of country sites. Jacqui’s previous work on the anole has employed genetics and paternity studies to try to better understand the successful population expansion and colonisation by the invasive species. Her research is rather too detailed and complex for most lay readers to easily understand, including this writer, but in essence she suggests that genetic variability, the ability to adapt, multiple paternity, natural selection, and sperm storage (a female anole can store sperm in specialised vaginal tubes for up to 10 months) are some of the many possible explanations. The invasive anoles are likely to move around the

island via modern transportation networks; they hitch a ride in your car, they bury their eggs in sand that is then transported in trucks to building sites and so on. Once in a new location, they are very quickly able to colonise it. Because they have been dependent on people to move them around, they tend to occupy areas close to roads or human habitation. When you travel deeper into the more remote interior of the island, however, the only anole you find – so far - is the native zandoli. It is also worth noting that the topographical nature of Puerto Rico is not as diverse or extreme as Dominica, so it could also be that the invasive species has evolved to thrive in drier, lower elevation habitats; hence its domination in the south west. Also working with Opwal is Jeanel Georges, a Ph.D. student who grew up in Dominica. She has been supervising field trips with students to capture, record and then release anoles in both dry coastal and high, wet forest habitats. On the sun-scorched slopes of Castle Bruce, Jeanel and a group of students search for anoles in trees and try to snag them with a long stick and Space Invaders


The invasive anole on a tree fern.


A native zandoli at the Freshwater Lake.

a monofilament snare. It feels rather rudimentary, not to mention difficult, but it seems to work and the anole, though undoubtedly rather shaken, seems none the worse for it. Once captured, the anoles are measured for temperature and size, then bagged for further studies at the lab (this is a designated ‘laboratory’ space wherever the group happens to be staying). The visiting scientists are also interested in how the anolis responds to variation in temperature, their ‘bite force’, and even sprint speed. These are tests that are carried out at the ‘lab’. When the measurements are completed, the anoles are carefully returned to the same habitat where they were captured. In Castle Bruce, the students and their supervisors catch a fairly even number of native and invasive species. Curiously, some of them are found occupying the same tree. Does this mean they are sharing a territory, does it mean one species lives at the bottom, the other at the top, or does it mean that the invader simply hasn’t muscled out the native yet? We simply don’t know and can only speculate. Such questions can only be properly answered with further observation and study. The following day the group moves to a much cooler and wetter environment at the Freshwater Lake. This time, however, the only species that is captured and measured is the native zandoli. So far, the invasive anolis cristatellus has not been observed here or anywhere else in Dominica’s elevated interior. Following the original appearance of the invasive anole in 2000, it is believed that there have been no subsequent ‘introduction events’. Jacqui’s genetic research in 2007 and 2010 suggests that there were at least seven females in the initial transport, possibly containing multiple genotypes. If true then this single event has resulted in a rapid proliferation of an adaptive, invasive population that has begun colonising large parts of the island in a very short space of time. It seems likely that this is ultimately bad news for the native zandoli, an anole that is unaccustomed to invading alien species and competition for space. Time will tell. For more information about Operation Wallacea go to Space Invaders


An invasive anole about to be snared.

Do you know your anoles? Telling the two anole species apart is not as straightforward as some would have you believe, as all anoles have variation of colour and markings within their species. But the following observations should help you. The invasive anolis cristatellus is usually a rather drab colour; often grey, sometimes brown, occasionally even black. It may have a crest running along its spine and it will usually have a pale underbelly. If you get close enough, it has black eyes, rather a snub nose, and a greenish tinge along a pale dewlap (the skin beneath its jaw that it inflates during both territorial and courtship displays). The native zandoli (anolis oculatus) is rather brighter in colour variation; often yellow, orange or green. It also tends to have bright spots, and a more vibrant underbelly and dewlap. Its eyes, though they may appear black, actually have a blueish hue, and it has a pointed rather than a snub nose. There is also rather a large variation in size between the male and female of both species with the male being significantly larger. 126

The native zandoli tends to have bright spots and a pointed, rather than a snub nose.

Traveller Notes

Invasive species are a threat to any habitat. They colonise, they impact endemics and, if left unchecked, they can have an alarming effect on the natural balance and inter species relationships that have evolved over thousands of years. Like all islands in the chain, Dominica has a serious problem with invasive lionfish (Pterois). Native to the Indo-pacific, the very beautiful but deadly lionfish is a venomous marine fish that has invaded the west Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Mediterranean Sea. It is commonly believed this invasion is due to amateur enthusiasts discarding lionfish that they once kept as aquarium pets.

A venomous lionfish. Image by Raymond Bosma.

Female lionfish release egg clusters that can contain as many as 15,000 eggs. Both males and females are skilled hunters and they prey on huge volumes of unsuspecting small fish, marine invertebrates and molluscs. Largely because of their venomous spines, lionfish have very few natural predators. One is the grouper which is, unfortunately, overfished in US coastal waters due to its popularity in restaurants. There have been occasional sightings of large groupers along the mid west coast of Dominica and their arrival could signal good news. But until populations of predatory groupers do turn up here, we are reliant on a small number of local spear fishermen to catch lionfish for our own dining tables. Space Invaders


Aywasi Kalinago Retreat Thundering Bay, Kalinago Territory





Enjoy the sounds of nature in our luxurious eco cottages or garden ajoupas, reflecting the best of traditional Kalinago craftsmanship. Located in the heart of the world’s only Kalinago Reservation, the Aywasi Retreat beckons writers, hikers, artists, families, romantic couples, independent travellers and anthropologists in search of a truly authentic indigenous Caribbean experience. Feel the energy, activate your inner warrior and rejuvenate your spirit in our enchanting retreat. T: (767) 235 4455 | E: FB: Aywasi Kalinago Retreat




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Calibishie Cove is nestled 80 feet above the pristine Hodges Bay Beach. A private relaxed beach eco-hideaway, our luxurious amenities and personal service fuse seamlessly to give our guests the ultimate Dominica island experience. We have a large yoga pavilion and we can accommodate weddings and special events. or call us on (+1767) 295 9172 or 245 5231.


Banana Lama Eco Villa & Cottages Newfoundland Estate, Rosalie Set within three acres of riverside, organic farm and forested land, and completely off-grid, Banana Lama is a fully self-sustainable, peaceful and private accommodation option for independent travellers. The self-contained, spacious cottages are just a few footsteps from the lovely Cacao River. They have a fully equipped kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living area and large covered veranda overlooking the gardens and the river. There is also WiFi throughout. Owners and hosts, Melissa and Andy, have sailed around the globe on super yachts and the diverse world cuisine that can be prepared and served for you in the luxurious and stylish villa is a reflection of their voyages. Banana Lama is located close to the turtle nesting sites at Rosalie and the waterfalls of the southeast. T: (767) 446 1183 E: FB: Banana Lama Eco Villa

Citrus Creek Plantation Riverside CafĂŠ & Lodge La Plaine Nestled alongside the Taberi River, within a 20 acre protected valley and within easy reach of natural attractions such as Sari Sari Falls, Wavine Cyrique, and Bout Sable Beach, Citrus Creek is ideally situated for exploring the east. There are no pretensions here and a relaxed and comfortable ambiance make you feel right at home. Eight wood and stone cottages and villas, part of a rental pool program, fit perfectly into the forest, garden and river environment and suit all budgets and tastes. Fresh breakfast ingredients are delivered daily to your door and airport transfers, tours and excursions can all be arranged for you. The Riverside CafĂŠ is open daily to guests and visitors, serving lunches and snacks. Creole with a touch of France - the food is always fresh and delicious. T: (767) 446 1234 E: FB: citruscreekplantation Conscious Travel, Adventure & Discovery


Cone gingers and anthuriums.

Tropical Gardens This whole island is a garden, most of it wild and untamed. But if you are not a hiker or a wilderness explorer, there are other ways for you to enjoy tropical plants and flowers at a far less demanding pace.


The Flower Growers of Eggleston & Giraudel A single main road runs through Giraudel and Eggleston, two neighbouring villages that are nestled on the steep western slopes and ridges of the Morne Anglais volcano. Each year, usually around May or June, this road becomes a hive of activity. Grass verges and wild bush are neatly trimmed, creatively designed stalls and bars are constructed from bamboo stems and coconut fronds, used vehicle tyres are painted in bright colours and filled with plants, and members of the Flower Growers Group, together with local horticulturalists and green-fingered enthusiasts, spend days and nights creating tropical garden and original cut flower displays.

Though peripheral events and activities take place in both villages over the course of five days and nights, the Giraudel Flower House and Gardens are the main focus of the show. In 2016 the theme for the event, dreamed up by the children of Giraudel Primary School, was ‘flowers in a changing environment’ and cut flower displays within the house were floral portrayals of climate change and the direct impact of events such as tropical storm Erika in August 2015. The vibrancy of colour and life was in stark contrast to some of the messages conveyed, yet there was also a note of optimism and resilience as well as hope that younger Tropical Gardens



generations of Dominicans – many of whom visited on school outings - would recognise and protect the natural beauty of their island. Beyond the cut flower displays of the Flower House, the rolling hillside gardens were also colourful and creative. One of Dominica’s most popular landscape gardeners, Desmond Augustin of Eggleston, designed and built his imaginative Manikin Garden in just five days. A tribute to the diversity of Dominica, his display contained gardens within a garden, replete with sun and water-loving specimens, forest plants and even agricultural produce. The annual show and the development of the house and gardens is a journey of dedication and passion for the group members, mostly women of the two villages, and all of the cut flowers on display at the show come from their own very beautiful private gardens. The Alfreds’ family name has become synonymous with both Giraudel and cut flower arrangements. Their mature west-facing garden has a steep gradient, and thoughtful landscaping incorporates steps and multiple levels, pathways and hidden nooks, concealing and then revealing both endemic and exotic flowering plant species. Now part of a cruise ship shore excursion, green-fingered visitors are drawn to the fragile flowers of the cleome, pink chrysanthemums against a backdrop of walking iris and ixora, and seemingly endless beds of Mexican cigar plants. Huge soursop and breadfruit hang pendulously from trees, ready to be picked, and carpets of painted-leaf begonia and purple heart spill over rockeries and elevated beds. As they have a commercial cut flower business, the Alfreds’ garden also contains dedicated beds crowded with heliconias, agapanthus and lilies, as well as large netted compounds of anthuriums. Victoria Giraudel’s little brick house sits right in the middle of a one-acre eclectic Caribbean cottage garden. Every inch, it seems, is crowded with wild flowers, trees and shrubs. Even gaps in the low stone walls host myriad succulents, alongside dazzling pink and white periwinkles, daisies and trailing honeysuckle vines. Colourful beds of pentas, azalea, amaryllis and aster complement shady corners of begonia and Tropical Gardens


caladium, and salmon pink mussaenda blossoms, Chinese hats, snow-on –the-mountain, pandanus and song of India add to a stunning backdrop of mountain peaks and Caribbean Sea.

Agapanthus. (And above right) Flower show preparations.

Stephanie “Fanny” Royer has been president of the group for over ten years. Her garden is a steep and elongated two-acre strip of land just above the village’s main road. Her house sits in the middle; below it she grows a variety of flowers for arrangements and above it she has vegetable beds. The garden is also a memorial to her late husband, Andrew, who was a pioneer of organic gardening and permaculture. He composted, he kept livestock whose manure supplied piped cooking gas to the house, he produced compost tea and he grew fruits, vegetables and ground provisions for market. Sipping her homemade sorrel cordial and enjoying the view from an old sofa she has placed on her porch between countless pots of cacti, verbena and aloe, Fanny reflects on the weeds that are growing in her garden because she has had to neglect it to organise the flower show. It’s a huge effort and sacrifice by all of the people involved; dedicated enthusiasts who give up their time and often their own plants and flowers to make it all happen. “I used to climb to the tops of all those trees to pick fruits,” she sighs, pointing to governor plum, guava, golden apple and avocado. “But I’m over seventy now so I can’t get all the way up any more. I get a bit dizzy,” she smiles.


Torch ginger.

Papillote Gardens at Trafalgar The mature and immaculate ten acre tropical gardens at Papillote Wilderness Retreat are the creation of owner and horticulturalist Anne Jno Baptiste. Work on the gardens first started in 1967 but in 1979 the destruction wrought

by Hurricane David meant that they had to be replanted from scratch. On a steep slope just a short distance below the Trafalgar Falls, Papillote Gardens is an oasis of native, rare and exotic rainforest plants and flowers. Tropical Gardens



Presented in an extremely natural way, the gardens have been designed and created to reflect Dominica’s rainforest micro-habitats. Plant specimens are presented in clusters but without artificial structure or rigid formality. Streams meander down through the gardens, some of them heated by the volcanic activity in this area and directed into hot pools where visitors can enjoy a mineral rich soak amid the lush greenery, vibrant flowers, and a moss covered sculpture of an iguana. Benches in secluded nooks offer a peaceful repose, and at the bottom of the gardens there are more pools, a river and a powerful waterfall. Papillote Gardens is noted for its collection of aroids, begonias, bromeliads, gingers, heliconias and orchids. It is also home to exotic species such as the leguminous perennial jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys), a native of the Phillipines, and the elephant foot yam (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius) with its curious and somewhat smelly inflorescence. The most recent exotic addition to the gardens is a real coup for both Papillote and for Dominica. The titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. A native of the equatorial rainforests of Sumatra, this plant flowers rarely, but when it does, it produces an inflorescence of around 3m in height. Also known as the corpse flower, this inflorescence too is rather smelly, emitting an odour similar to rotting carrion that attracts flies and other insects that act as pollinators. It is generally thought that in cultivation, the titan arum requires somewhere between seven and ten years of growth before flowering for the first time. Given they may not bloom again for as long as another seven years (though much more frequent blooming frequencies are known), be sure not to miss it when it happens. Wandering the footpaths of Papillote Gardens once is simply not enough. Walk it several times and you will always be surprised by something new and interesting, be it a plant, a flower, a butterfly, a hummingbird, a walking stick insect or even a resident peacock. A guided tour will help you to enjoy many of the features of this very special place. Tropical Gardens


Bwa Kwaib.

Tropical Gardens Traveller Notes Rather ironically, the national flower of Dominica is not a rainforest species at all. The bwa kwaib (Sabinea carinalis) is an arboreal blossom that is endemic to Dominica and usually found growing in dry coastal areas. Good specimens can be seen in the Botanic Gardens in Roseau, Fort Shirley Garrison in the Cabrits National Park, or, if you fancy a steep walk, near the summit of Morne Espagnol, south of Picard, where they grow in dense clusters. The planting of the Botanic Gardens in Roseau began in 1890 with the original aim, by the colonial government, being to propagate crop seedlings for farmers. This programme continues today. The ornamental gardens were started in 1892 and were the lifelong work of Joseph Jones. Botanists from Kew Gardens in England supplied many exotic species and the gardens were slowly transformed into a landscape of tropical trees, flowers and shrubs. Just as it did with Papillote Gardens in 1979, Hurricane David wrought havoc and many of the original species were lost. Today, however, the Botanic Gardens are still a haven of colour and tranquillity on the eastern outskirts of the capital. 138

Papillote Wilderness Retreat Trafalgar Immaculate and mature tropical gardens with waterfalls and mineral rich hot volcanic pools are the setting for Papillote Wilderness Retreat, Dominica’s most renowned and respected nature resort. Located at the top of the gardens, surrounded by lush tropical flowers and plants, are two comfortable self-catering apartments and suites. Each is spacious with two bedrooms, private bathroom, fully equipped kitchen, fans, mosquito nets and a large porch with garden views. There is free WiFi and the whole building can be rented out as a villa. Our large Rainforest Restaurant is within the gardens and surrounded by bird life. From dawn until dusk, we serve a fusion of high quality local and international food with a focus on fresh local ingredients. Papillote offers a number of attractive packages and is a popular location for small weddings and meetings. For nature lovers, our Interlude Package includes a fascinating garden tour, relaxation time in one of our hot volcanic pools, and then a delicious lunch. Other services include massage and yoga. Located at the head of the Roseau Valley, just a short walk to the Trafalgar Falls and a 15 minute drive from Roseau, Papillote Wilderness Retreat is one of Dominica’s greatest treasures and a must see in the Caribbean. T: (767) 448 2287 E: FB: PapilloteTropicalGardens

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Parting Shot

A rare orange clingfish under a rock in the Castle Bruce River. Photo by Kevin Conway.

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