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Highs and Lows on the Nature Island of Dominica

Author: soliteyah
Date of Trip: November 2009

Everything I read about Dominica before SO and I went there talked about how it’s a “nature island” with lots of waterfalls, mountains, and hiking trails — and no big resorts. All of that was right up our alley! Add to that some snorkeling opportunities and the fact that this is one of the less traveled Caribbean islands, and we were all ready to go.

We planned a trip focused around outdoor activities, mostly hiking. Unfortunately, both of us fell ill the week we were scheduled to leave; SO was bedridden with a fever for several days, and I was just starting to come down with it too the day before we flew out. But we were determined to make our trip happen, so we packed our meds, drank glass after glass of orange juice and hoped for the best!

November 12
We left home at 4:45 a.m. to catch our flight from Philadelphia to San Juan and then on to Dominica. It was a gray, rainy morning in Philly and planes seemed to be pretty backed up; we ended up waiting on the tarmac for a good 40 minutes before we finally took up. I fretted a bit about our connection in San Juan (where it was a sunny 85 degrees), but we got there in time to grab a horrendously overpriced lunch at the airport: $21.20 for two mediocre plastic-wrapped sandwiches.

We boarded the plane more or less on time but then sat for a while in what had to be an 80-degree cabin. Turns out there was some problem with a cargo door lock, and we had to deplane. We finally left over an hour after we were supposed to. It was a good thing we weren’t any later — Dominica’s Melville Hall airport isn’t equipped to handle nighttime flights, but we made it just in time.

I had the window seat for our approach over Dominica and it was so cool! The whole island is covered in mountains and rain forest, and I could see a little mist enshrouding some of the higher peaks. There were very few towns or houses that I could see.

We went through a short customs line and then stepped outside to get to the other part of the airport where the car rental counters were. Outside we found an ATM (yay!) surrounded by taxi drivers and tour guides touting their services (boo!). Luckily no one was too terribly aggressive.

The guy at the rental counter checked us in in laconic fashion, reminding us to “drive on the left, use the horn frequently, and gear down when going downhill.” With that we set off on our adventure … and promptly made a wrong turn. Oops! Between the narrow roads and the left-sided driving, SO had an interesting time finding a good place to turn around, but we did eventually get ourselves onto the right road in the right direction (north to the beach town of Calibishie).

We found our lodging for the night, the Veranda View B&B, on the first try (it’s right off the main road on the right). The location was a lovely surprise — right on the beach with a huge veranda overlooking the sea. We enjoyed a nice outdoor dinner prepared for us by the innkeeper: tuna, rice, avocado, a green salad, and bread and butter. Delicious.

There are only two rooms at the Veranda View, both on the second floor with a door opening to the single shared veranda. None of the windows had screens, though the windows overlooking the veranda had iron bars. The innkeeper told us not to open our side windows because there was an overhanging roof underneath them that an intruder could climb. However, she told us we could leave our back windows open for some airflow, which we did — which led to the worst moment of our trip.

I awakened at 4 a.m. to see a strange man climbing out the window right next to my side of the bed. I immediately started screaming, which woke SO up, and he started yelling too. The intruder made a flying leap out the window and escaped. When we turned on the lights, we discovered that he had stolen SO’s wallet out of the pocket of his shorts (which were on the floor on the other side of the bed). We lost everything we’d just withdrawn from the airport ATM, as well as some U.S. cash, a credit card and ATM card, SO’s driver’s license and Dominican driving permit, and all his other cards (health insurance, etc.).

Luckily I was wearing a money belt under my clothes, so we didn’t lose the cash or credit cards I was carrying … or our passports (I had both).

The loss of the wallet was an annoyance, but the real impact of what happened was psychological; we both felt jumpy every night for the rest of the trip, and I had a really hard time getting past the feeling of violation, knowing that someone had been in a room with us rifling through our stuff while we were sleeping. Of course, we were lucky that nothing worse happened, that we weren’t hurt and he got nothing more than a wallet. (Thank goodness he didn’t get our camera!)

The innkeeper called the police, who showed up about two hours later. (Calibishie is a small town and only had one cop on duty, who couldn’t leave the station until he was relieved.) Turns out the intruder used a 12-foot ladder to get into our room. So much for leaving the back window open at the B&B! It sounds like this kind of thing has happened before at the Veranda View; while it’s a lovely place, I would not recommend staying there again until the owner has put bars on ALL the windows. In a concession to what happened to us, the owner didn’t charge us for dinner, just the price of the room ($75 US), and let us make a number of calls to credit card companies etc. so we could get our cards canceled.

November 13
We left Calibishie as soon as we could, eager to move on from the incident and not let it color the rest of our trip. We headed west toward Portsmouth, which turned out to be a pretty (though winding) drive, lined with banana plantations and verdant rain forest, with occasional glimpses of the sea.

The Picard Beach Cottages are right near the Ross Medical School (which apparently gets a lot of American students who didn’t get into a U.S. medical school for one reason or another). There are a lot of bars, restaurants, little shops, pharmacies, etc. in town.

The cottages are cute, set in a little garden area right near the sea. When we checked in, the first thing I asked the office was how secure they were, explaining what had happened to us at the Veranda View. The woman at the desk looked horrified and said that that would never happen here, that they have 24-hour security and all the windows have screens/locks, etc. We probably wouldn’t have felt secure in anything less than a bunker after the night before, but our cottage did seem safe enough; there were four different locks on the door, and we saw security folks walking around on a regular basis.

Perhaps in response to my sob story, we were upgraded to a superior cottage instead of the standard we’d reserved. The cottage was on the basic side but pretty cute, with wooden furniture and a small kitchenette area. In the bedroom there was an AC unit so you could cool either that room or (less efficiently) the whole place. Our front door was literally just a few steps from the beach … which is where we spent a good part of the day, chilling out in the shade of a tree, looking out onto the calm waters of the Caribbean and trying to soothe our ruffled feathers.

Neither of us were feeling that hot, so we took a nap before heading into town to take care of a few errands. First stop: what appeared to be Portsmouth’s only ATM, which was — of course — out of order! Luckily it was a weekday and the bank was open, so we waited in a long, slow line and threw ourselves on the mercy of the teller, who was able to use my debit card for a cash advance. (Talk about fees, ugh! But we were desperate; ATM’s are not particularly plentiful on Dominica, and of course we’d just lost a ton of cash.) We filled up the car at the Texaco next door and then drove a little way up the coast to the Purple Turtle Beach Club for lunch.

It was a little beach bar overlooking the sea and the Cabrits peninsula. Stunning setting, achingly slow service. (But then this is the Caribbean, after all.) We ordered the “chicken lunch,” which is a pretty standard offering in Dominica: stewed chicken, rice, beans, “provision” (which is a local root vegetable), and coleslaw. The nice thing about Dominica was that we were able to drink the water and eat salads, etc. here. The total bill came to $56 ECD (the exchange rate is fixed at about $2.70 ECD to $1 USD).

portsmouth picard beach cottages sunset beach dominica caribbeanOn our way back to the cottage we stopped at a little mini-mart and bought a large jug of water, a pack of yogurt, several oranges and a box of muesli (about $40 ECD). Then it was back to the cottage, where I took a mini-nap on our porch while mosquitoes feasted on my legs. We finally mustered enough energy to walk back to the beach and watch the sunset, which was really lovely. The resort has a wooden jetty stretching out over the water; we sat there with legs dangling and watched the sailboats go by as the sun sank into the sea.

Back in the cottage, we dealt with a lighting issue (the office sent a security person to reset a tripped circuit), ate a little yogurt with muesli, and then went to bed ridiculously early (ie 7:30) in hopes of catching up on sleep and shaking off the last of our lingering fevers. It took both of us a very long time to fall asleep — I was certainly keeping a keen eye on the window at the foot of the bed! We locked every possible door and had all of our valuables on us: I wore the money belt and had our camera strapped across my chest (made for comfortable sleeping, let me tell you!), while SO had his wallet in the pocket of the shorts he was wearing, and a few other valuables (copies of passports/credit cards, etc.) were in a backpack under our pillows.

Paranoid? Ridiculously so. But it made us feel safer after what had happened the night before.

November 14
After about 12 hours of fitful sleep, neither of us felt all that much better the next day. We stopped in a nearby pharmacy to get some pain relievers/decongestants and then headed south to the Syndiate Nature Trail in Morne Diablotins National Park. We were determined to do something fun and active instead of sitting around feeling sick. When we reached the turn-off for the park, there was a sign saying that we had to continue on the main road to a certain shop in Dublanc (the next town south) to purchase a site pass. We found the shop easily enough, though as with many things in the Caribbean, getting the actual passes was a slooooow process. (The lady behind the counter was having issues with her stamp or something, I don’t know.) But eventually we were on our way.

After the turn-off to the park, the road got very narrow, winding and hilly. It took a lot longer to get to the trail than I expected. Luckily there weren’t many other cars on the road, as passing was nearly impossible. We finally reached the visitor center and discovered a really nicely groomed trail that took us on a relatively flat loop through the rain forest. In theory this is a good place to spot several endangered species of parrots, though I’m not sure we actually did (some sort of bird went winging by the lookout point but we have no idea what it was!). We enjoyed the peace and quiet of the hike, though — it took only an hour and was exactly the type of laid-back, scenic activity we needed on a day when we weren’t feeling our best.

We drove back to the cottage to spend the late afternoon on the beach, where we also caught another sunset. It was a Saturday, so there were a lot more people around than the day before (though I still wouldn’t call it crowded) — and lots of dogs too! Wonder whether these folks were from the medical school; I can’t imagine that our fellow tourists at the cottages would have brought their pets.

We had more issues back at the cottage when we tried to make a can of soup for dinner; first we had no can opener, so SO took a knife to the can, and then the stove wouldn’t light. Sigh. Security to the rescue again!

November 15
We checked out of the Picard Beach Cottages and drove down the western coast of Dominica to Roseau, the capital and largest city on the island. I had expected the road between the island’s two main towns (Portsmouth and Roseau) to be pretty good, but honestly it had just as many potholes and twists/turns as the rest of the loop road around the island; you really can’t drive fast here, especially not in a Toyota Corolla.

Once we got to Roseau, we wandered aimlessly around the one-way streets until we finally decided to just park on the street wherever we could find a space — the place isn’t big, so walking is certainly easier than driving. There was a cruise ship in town, Holland America’s Noordam, and so there were all sorts of vendors and touts along the main waterfront drag. We hit an ATM there in the lovely air-conditioned lobby of the Royal Bank of Canada, and then walked around to see what there was to see.

The answer: not a ton, really. Roseau does have a small, slightly run-down French Quarter, as well as a few duty-free shops, the Dominica Museum (closed Sundays, alas), and a botanical garden that seemed to consist of an open lawn (where locals were playing soccer), a few random plots of flowers and an enormous tree that fell in 1979 during Hurricane David on top of a school bus. (Fortunately the bus was empty at the time.)

It began to rain while we were in the gardens, so we made our way back to the waterfront to look for a restaurant for lunch. We ended up at the Garraway Hotel for a lunch of chicken stuffed with plantains (me) and a chef salad (SO). The bill came to $93 ECD.

After lunch we headed out of town to Laudat, which a sign told us was six miles away. Well. I knew it would be a long, rough six miles, and it was. The roads ranged from passable to absolutely dreadful (potholes/craters, little gullies running across the way, gravel, mud, etc.) and weren’t clearly marked with signs. (At one point a sign said “Road closed: Laudat” — and that was the road we were supposed to take. It was not closed.) But we did finally reach Roxy’s Mountain Lodge, a sturdy wood and stone place with a spectacular view of the nearby mountains and rain forest.

Speaking of views, though … the owner initially put us in room 16, which had a veranda overlooking a scenic pile of garbage (complete with a broken-down car and a toilet seat). Given that we seemed to be the only guests here, we asked if we could be moved to one of the (many) rooms with a view of the mountains, so the owner bumped us across the hall to 15, which had two single beds instead of a double but also an infinitely nicer view: mountains to the left, the lodge’s pretty flower garden below, and a green tropical view all the way down to the sea in the distance.

It was about 2:30 when we arrived, so we asked if there was a short hike we could squeeze in before sunset. Turned out that Ti Tou Gorge was only about a 15-minute walk away from the lodge, though the directions sounded a little complicated — pass the pool, follow the drainage ditch to the hydroelectric plant, etc etc. But we set off and didn’t have any problems, following a muddy path through a field, crossing balance-beam style along water gutters and then making a right at the power plant to reach the gorge. We saw a few other people en route but largely had the gorge to ourselves. It started as a rushing stream surrounded by lovely tropical ferns, flowers and large green leaves dripping with rain. We crossed over a bridge and walked upstream a bit, where we could see the main waterfall tumbling powerfully into a narrow rock gorge. The area had lots of smaller waterfalls too, all incredibly lush and beautiful.

We returned to the lodge to watch the sunset from our veranda. I couldn’t stop drinking in the view — it was absolutely spectacular. Then in the evening the lodge prepared dinner for us: christophine soup, followed by what we’d come to recognize as a standard chicken meal (chicken leg, rice, beans, provision, platains, salad) and a dessert of bananas in some sort of honey sauce. It was delicious, though far too much food for us since we were still sick. We did our best!

We went to bed pretty early again, hoping for a long night of sleep, but once again we were thwarted. The owner had the large TV in the lounge on, and the way the lodge is designed makes the sound carry very effectively from the lounge up to the rooms. He seemed to be watching some sort of historical movie, and the noise of the fight scenes and the swelling music of the dramatic moments were so loud they may as well have been coming from the room next door. Ugh.

I tried putting in SO’s earbuds to block the sound, but those have never fit me well and weren’t particularly effective. After over an hour, I knew I’d never get to sleep like this, so I headed downstairs to throw myself on the guy’s mercy — only to discover that he was passed out on the sofa, not even watching the movie! I should have just smacked the off button and had done with it, but instead I coughed a little to wake him up and asked him to turn down the volume. He did so — only a tiny bit — but luckily he turned the TV off altogether about 20 minutes later, and I finally drifted off.

November 16
The folks at the lodge made us continental breakfast this morning (pineapple slices, fresh orange juice, toast with butter and jam, tea) and sold us a weeklong site pass to get us into all of the national parks for the rest of the trip. They also packed us a couple of tuna sandwiches for lunch since we were planning to hike most of the day.

We headed first to the Freshwater Lake, which our guidebook said could be circumnavigated on foot in about an hour. There was a visitor center there but not a soul around; ours was the only vehicle in the parking lot. The lake itself was a crater lake, surrounded by green hills. You could snap a quick picture of it right from the parking lot, but we decided to give the hike a try.

It was very, very muddy (apparently this lake is one of the wettest places on earth). The trail was clear though, marked by a series of wooden logs and steps that went up and down along the ridges around the lake. In many parts we were walking through pretty thick forest, which helped protect us from the light rain that fell most of the way. But in various places there were breaks in the trees where we could enjoy the views — not only of the lake, which definitely looked more impressive from above, but also of the surrounding peaks and valleys — and even, at one point, all the way to the Atlantic coast.

It was a reasonably strenuous hike — lots of steep ups and painstakingly slippery downs — and it took us a good hour and a half, with stops for photo ops and water breaks. At one point much of the trail had been taken out by a landslide, leaving a teeny narrow trail overlooking a very steep drop. I am scared of heights and did not like this part of the hike at all, but luckily it was very brief and we made it out alive!

We ate our tuna sandwiches back in the parking lot and then headed down to Middleham Falls, another popular hike in the area. With the sun now out, we set off for what was supposed to be about a 45-minute hike to the falls. We hiked pretty much straight uphill for 15 minutes or so, and though we were both sweating and breathing pretty hard in the humidity, we seemed to be doing okay … until SO had to stop and lean over, sucking wind and sweating profusely. He definitely didn’t look good — dehydration, we suspected, along with the lingering effects of his illness the week before.

We stopped for a bit so he could rest, but it seemed clear that we didn’t have enough water to keep both of us hydrated for the rest of the hike, so we decided to turn around and head back to the lodge for the day, and try the Middleham hike again in the morning. It was disappointing to waste such a beautiful afternoon, but we simply had to accept our bodies’ limitations.

We had a lazy few hours back at Roxy’s, checking our email on the lodge’s computer, and enjoying another sunset and delicious dinner. And we got a better night’s sleep too — no movie on TV!

November 17
We woke up early this morning, checked out of Roxy’s, and set forth for our second attempt at Middleham Falls. In keeping with the “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” nature of our trip thus far, however, our car wouldn’t start. Sigh.

We walked back into the lodge with our tails between our legs and called the car rental company, who said they’d send someone out from Roseau with another vehicle and a spare battery. So we hung out for another hour and a half or so until the Courtesy Car Rental guy arrived and determined that the car was indeed deader than a doornail. He gave us the replacement car and we were on our way. Time check: about 11 a.m.

We went to Middleham Falls again and discovered that the hike really was worth the trouble — it was a pretty good uphill trek at first, but then there was a nice flat stretch in the middle and the vast majority of it was shaded. (The nice thing about the rain forest is that even when it’s raining, you rarely get all that wet — so much of the moisture gets caught in the thick canopy above.) The very end of the trail was a little bit precarious, with a few spots where we had to scramble carefully over mossy, slippery rocks.

But then … we saw the falls. Wow. It’s by far the highest waterfall I’ve ever seen — I had to crane my neck to see the top, where it almost looked like Mother Nature was tipping over a huge bucket from a very high window. By the time the water reached the bottom it was crashing with considerable force. Wouldn’t want to be standing right under that! (Apparently you can swim in some of the lower cascade pools, but we didn’t.)

Back at the main parking area, we chilled out under the little rain shelter and chatted with the park ranger as well as a number of other travelers (some were with a British walking tour group, while others were from the day’s cruise ship). The park ranger in particular was really friendly and chatty, clucking his tongue over what happened to us in Calibishie. It was a nice interlude; we’d spent so much time on uncrowded trails and in relatively empty guesthouses/lodges that we were thrilled to get a chance to talk with someone other than each other!

Our drive back to Roseau was surprisingly uneventful. We took zero wrong turns (!), and it took us less than 40 minutes. We parked behind the Garraway Hotel and checked into what was a pretty standard hotel (of the Super 8 or Holiday Inn variety), with a nondescript bedspread and curtains (but the bed was a king, yay!), air conditioning, fan, desk and fridge. The windows overlooked the cruise ship port and were absolutely huge. It was hardly luxurious, but it was clean and climate-controlled, and felt relatively safe. (We were on the third floor.)

After cleaning up a bit, we headed out in search of dinner. There are a lot of little bars and snackettes in Roseau, but we ended up at La Robe Creole, a pretty little place right behind our hotel. It was very early (maybe 5:30 or so) and we were the only ones there, but they agreed to accommodate us. The service, from a clearly bored teenager, was pretty terrible; instead of reciting the specials she flapped her hand at a board that we couldn’t see from where we were sitting, and after we ordered she took SO’s menu but left mine behind, where it stayed for the remainder of the meal. But the food was good — chicken for me, red snapper for SO, with sides of rice, spinach, carrots and provision. We shared a dish of homemade banana ice cream for dessert. Total price for all that plus a rum punch for SO: $130 ECD.

November 18
We started the day with the continental breakfast buffet at the Garraway — fresh juice, cereal, banana bread, regular bread with butter/jam, pineapple chunks and some slightly sketchy-looking cheese. We watched Ruby Princess pull into port as we ate, then set out for the local supermarket, AC Shillingford, to pick up some breakfast foods and snacks.

The heat in Roseau was absolutely oppressive — we were sweating as soon as we stepped out the door at 9 a.m. — but our destination was much cooler: Emerald Pool, up in the mountains. We knew it was one of the island’s most visited attractions, but we still weren’t prepared for the huge parking lot filled with tourist vans and lined with trinket stalls. It’s so popular because the hike down to the waterfall is incredibly easy, and of course because the waterfall itself is lovely — nowhere near as high as Middleham, but nicely situated in a little glade with a pool for swimming. (Quite a few of our fellow tourists were doing so.)

On the loop path back to the parking lot were several viewpoints, one over the rain forest canopy, the other all the way down to the Atlantic Coast.

Back in Roseau, we ate lunch at Cocorico’s, a cute little restaurant near the waterfront that seemed popular with both locals and visitors. SO got a chef salad and I got pasta primavera (YUM), and the fresh passionfruit juice we shared was really delicious. The waitress was friendly too, and the bill came to just $70 ECD.

Afterward we toured the teeny little Dominica Museum (don’t go in there hoping for air conditioning — you will be disappointed), which had a few interesting exhibits about the geological and cultural history of Dominica.

And then it was back to the botanical gardens to climb to the top of Morne Bruce, where there used to be some sort of garrison. The climb only took 15-20 minutes or so and the trail was mostly shaded, but it was about 90 degrees out and incredibly humid, and the trail was all uphill. SO and I were drenched in sweat about five minutes in. There were a ton of lizards of various sizes (some as long as a foot!) along the trail, skittering up and down the hills and across the path.

The sweaty walk was worth it for the views from the top of the hill. There was a large cross/monument there as well as a cannon (the remains of the garrison), overlooking some spectacular views of the city and the Caribbean Sea. There was a bit of a breeze stirring up there too, which helped the cause.

Going back down was infinitely easier, and it wasn’t long before we were back at the Garraway. We did a quick (and free!) internet check in the hotel’s business center, with has a computer for guest use Monday through Friday.

We ate dinner that night next door at the Fort Young Hotel, on the lovely second-floor veranda overlooking the water. It was one of our best meals: crabback appetizer (a spicy Creole crab mix stuffed in a crab shell), pasta primavera for SO (creamy and delicious), mahi mahi for me (with rice and veggies), and passionfruit creme brulee for dessert (sadly not quite as good as it sounded). It was pricey but not too ridiculous, especially for the lovely setting.

November 19
We got up early this morning to call around to various dive shops; we were hoping to take a snorkeling trip down around Scotts Head in the southwestern part of the island. We ended up going from the Fort Young Hotel with Dive Dominica, which left around 8:30 a.m. and cost $35 US for each of us (it was a half-day tour). Most of the folks on the boat were divers, but there was one other guy who snorkeled with us. The two dive masters onboard chose two diving sites based on the clarity of the water and the quality of the site for both divers AND snorkelers. (We “kiddie poolers” appreciated the consideration!)

Our first stop was the Scotts Head Drop-Off (according to my guidebook), which was pretty cool — several types of coral plus a decent selection of fish. We had about 45 minutes there, then went around the corner to Scotts Head Point, which was even better — tons of sea fans, healthier-looking and more colorful coral, more varieties of fish, etc. We could also get a lot closer to the coral and fish at this site, and the drop-off to the deeper sea was quite dramatic. We had an hour there.

Back in Roseau, we ate lunch at Cocorico’s again and then wandered around the waterfront in search of souvenirs. No dice … everything was tacky and touristy, and nothing seemed to actually be made in Dominica! Sad.

We had dinner that night at the restaurant in the Garraway. We were pleasantly surprised by how good our main dish was (tuna with tropical fruit salsa, accompanied by a corn cake that tasted like a hash brown and a bunch of grilled veggies). And the coconut ice cream for dessert was divine.

November 20

We visited another popular tourist site this morning: Trafalgar Falls. The parking lot was just as crammed as the one at Emerald Pool, and the little visitor center was bursting at the seams with people. Ugh. The trail to the viewing platform was very easy, but the view — of the “mother” and “father” waterfalls — was excellent; these were probably the prettiest falls we saw.

We escaped the bulk of the crowd by scrambling out onto the large boulders near the foot of the mother falls. The climb was a little precipitous over slick rocks, but the views and fresh air were worht it … at least until one of the guides motioned all of us off the rocks. Apparently there’s danger of flash flooding there, so we withdrew as directed.

It was only 11 when we finished up at the falls, so we drove a minute or two downhill to the Papillote Wilderness Retreat, a lovely little eco resort with lush gardens and a restaurant. We took a guided tour of the gardens, which was a relaxing way to spend an hour. Our guide, Evelyn, pointed out dozens of flowers and plants and herbs — bromeliads, ginger flowers, heliconias, tree ferns, calabash, papaya, cinnamon trees, cacao, coriander, verbene, etc etc. It was nice to get more of an appreciation for all the flora we’d seen already on the trip. The resort also had great hot spring baths, which looked like a relaxing place for a dip!

The tour was followed by a really tasty lunch. We both ordered the “local lunch special,” which was baked chicken, macaroni and cheese, beans, and salad. Possibly the best part was the fresh passionfruit juice, so delicious! We were the only ones in the restaurant (which was outdoors and overlooked the beautiful green surroundings), even though van after van passed by en route to/from Trafalgar Falls.

We headed back to Roseau via Wotten Waven, which is supposedly a “wellness” village. (There are hot springs and sulfur spas here that are supposedly good for health.) It looked pretty but we passed quickly on through, neither of us being much interested in spas.

We decided to drive down to Scotts Head for the afternoon. The ride down the coast from Roseau was the usual mess of potholes, twists and turns, one-lane stretches, and towns full of chickens, dogs, parked cars and people in the road. But the views when we finally reached the southern tip of the island were worth the drive. We drove through Scotts Head village (which was very colorful, with lots of fishing boats tied up in the sea) and out onto the thin strip of land separating the Caribbean from the Atlantic. There we parked the car on the rocky beach and followed a short path up the hill to Cachacrou, where we got some really nice views of the village, the sea, and all the way up the coast to the cruise ship in Roseau.

We sat on the Caribbean side for 20 minutes or so, perched on a rock with our feet dangling in the calm water. SO enjoyed checking out the little snails and crabs on the mossy rocks, while I just sat and enjoyed the view, the shade and the warm water.

We had our final dinner at the Fort Young Hotel again. I ordered the vegetarian special (stuffed christophine with a side order of spinach and broccoli), while SO went big with a shrimp dish that came out steaming and sizzling on an iron skillet. Both were yummy, as was the tall dish of coconut ice cream for dessert.

November 21
We checked out of the Garraway and drove across the island to the east coast and the Kalinago Barana Aute, a traditional native village by the sea. The scenery as we drove along the Atlantic coast was spectacular. The Kalinago village wasn’t large, but it had a lovely setting and the traditional buildings were very cool to see. We were shown around the grounds by a Kalinago tour guide. (Don’t call them Caribs — that’s what Columbus called them, from the word for cannibal. Apparently the Kalinago worshiped their ancestors; when they died, their bones were put out into the sun, then brought back to their houses to worship. Columbus saw the bones and thought the Kalinago ate people. Oops!)

After the tour, we wound up among a few craft stalls where several Kalinago women were weaving baskets. They had a number of crafts for sale, not just the baskets but also wooden mugs, carved/painted coconut shells, etc. I finally got my souvenirs!

We had an inexpensive chicken lunch at the village’s little snackette before pulling out and heading north to the airport, where we dropped off our rental car and sadly prepared to return home. Despite the rough patches, this was an absolutely gorgeous place to spend a little over a week. Maybe someday we will go back!

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