Landscape and low clouds
Mom and Dad had booked a whale-watching excursion before we left on this vacation so they went their own way. Dan, Mike and I didn’t really have much in mind. I was up at 6 a.m. getting our tender tickets. Dominica was our only tender port THANK GOODNESS because tendering isn’t the most fun thing ever. You sit around and wait for your ticket to be called. Now, if you’re a late sleeper and a long breakfast-eater, tendering is fine. But we want to get right onto the island and the early tenders are quite crowded. Anyway, we waited and made it onto the island.
Upon clearing through security, we were suddenly mobbed by taxi drivers.
All with the same price, all with the same trip, and all claiming to be better than the others. We spoke to one of the first drivers and told him we wanted to look around here a bit, but we’d try to find him if we wanted to take a trip. We continued to walk toward the local craft and general market while repeating “No thank you, we don’t need a taxi right now”. Some passengers we talked to were really bothered at being “hassled” so much, but I didn’t find it such a hassle. They were just trying to work like the rest of us! J And they work on 100% commission, so I would want to really try and “snag” a customer too! We walked around a bit and found nothing that interested us in the duty-free shop (I often wonder why I even bother going into those.
The sun peeks through a stormy day.
It’s all the same; designer handbags (I only carry one purse and it was a gift from my Mom-In-Law), liquor (my cabinet at home is stocked full so unless it’s made in your backyard or so unique I can’t possibly get it in the states, I don’t want it.), clothing (I live in MidWest Ohio, by the time fashion gets to my town, it’s on clearance everywhere else), perfume (I have one stink I wear on special occasions I bought in France. Nothing rivals it) and leather wallets (mine from Wilson’s leather is still going). We decided to walk back and find that taxi driver. We asked around, but no one had seen him. Giving up, we found Paula Celestine. (Celestine_paula@yahoo.com). She immediately called one of her drivers, Alphonso Magloine. If you’re traveling to Dominica and want an AWESOME, customized tour for a reasonable price, I suggest calling him.
Message me if you’d like telephone numbers. We took a nicely paced tour up to a lookout over the city, into the botanical gardens where he was more than willing to stop and get out with us to point out plants and birds we found interesting. I highly recommend going through the botanical gardens, it was beautiful. We then drove up to Trafalgar falls. At this point, I was so glad we found Alphonso and we weren’t on a ship tour. Ship tours were being herded through like cattle. The ship tours were literally pushing people out of the way to snap a quick picture before being herded out. They were grumpy (and who wouldn’t be having paid over $50 USD a person and being shoved through with no freedom to explore.) Most of them restricted themselves to the tiny balcony and complained to each other about the drive up, the 10 minute “hike” (it was a nicely cleared walkway), the heat, and they people standing in the way of their precious picture before retreating to the comfort of an air-conditioned motor coach.
Dad's a fireman, so we usually seek out fire departments wherever we travel.
We were able to maneuver our way to the edge of the platform (after I had to take out two old ladies for a picture of the falls… I’m kidding) where we found a “travel at your own risk sign”. If you need to ask if we went beyond this sign, you don’t know me very well. OF COURSE we did, and WOW! The hike was a little more of a “hike” down some steep drops and some huge rocks, but it was well worth it. There was a little pull off with access to a naturally heated pool. A few people were lounging in what I referred to as “God’s hot-tub” and very comfortable in the uncrowded environment. It was like a little personal paradise. The few people we did meet (one group of 20 and 30 somethings were exploring in the big rocks) were very friendly. I’ll remember a towel and suit next time I go so I can sit in the “hot tub”, too. I can PROMISE you we got much better pictures than the platform complainers.
In the botanical gardens
After a bit, we made our way back, through the grumpy ship tours, and back to the taxi where Alphonso was waiting to take us to our next stop; boiling lake. Again, Alphonso was very patient and even helped us get around the MANY people who wanted to charge us $15 or $20 to walk us about 20 yards to the boiling pool. It really was amazing to see something that hot boiling out of the ground. However, it’s a sulphur spring with sulphur water and belching sulphur air. It didn’t smell the best (as soon as I invent a camera that captures sight AND small, I’ll let you know) so we didn’t stick around too long. I had mentioned to Paula while we were waiting for Alphonso that I wanted to buy some of the beautiful national fabric I had seen everywhere but didn’t see in the craft market (other than as table covers). Alphonso called back to Paula for the best store and took us back to town. He went into the store with me and introduced me to the girls working at the fabric counter while they all helped me pick out my fabric.
Our island transport!
I would have NEVER found this market/store on my own. I was so thankful he took us there. I got 2 yards of the most beautiful Dominican fabric and paid only $10 USD. I was even told that they would make it into something for me for about $20 USD. If I had been staying on the island, I would have gladly taken them up on this offer, but it just couldn’t be done before our “all aboard” time, but they gave me ideas of how to use the fabric to make something distinctly Dominican. J At this point, we bade Alphonso farewell and gave him $90 USD for the appx. 5 hour day. He asked for only $60, but we gave him an extra $10 each. The trip was WELL worth it.
Squished bus thanks to a 1978 hurricane.
I will call Alphonso again when I’m back in Dominica.
In the botanical gardens on the edge of town.
All I can tell you about Mom and Dad's whale watching trip was that they went an hour and a half without seeing a single whale. Then they saw 8, including a calf nursing from a mother. Both Mom and Dad agreed it was one of the most amazing things they had experienced.
By now, we were HUNGRY. I stopped into the visitor’s information center and asked about a place to eat that had the best local dish, sancoche, which Alphonso told us about.
We were referred to Pearl’s Cuisine. Pearl’s had a downstairs carry-out service and a small upstairs open-air balcony restaurant with clean restrooms, friendly service, cold beer, and great food. Dan, Mike and I all ordered sancoche and filled our tummy with Dominican beer. It was nice to sit on the balcony and watch Dominica go by. Two large meals (more than we could eat), two beers, and tip for great service was about $15 USD.
Dan walks toward a bamboo patch.
We wandered back through the markets warm, full, and happy. We picked up our few important memorabilia (I make jewelry so I try to buy beads wherever I go, we collect Christmas ornaments from our travels so we can reminisce about our travels during Christmas, and we collect nativities.
Dan fancies local paintings and I fancy local clothing when we can find something special.) We located the new fountain dedicated to Dominica’s 30th year of independence and made our way back to the ship.
Dan is in the bamboo patch.
I would certainly return to Dominica, especially if I’m guaranteed a trip with Alphonso and more sancoche.
Roseau Sights & Attractions review
Waterfalls, sancoche, and very pretty fabric
Dominica is, by far, the most naturally beautiful place I have ever been. I didn't really even get into the "heart" of the jungles, but was it ever be… read entire review