Although I am not a birder or a botanist, I continue to learn so much about the more than one hundred winged creatures and thousands of thriving plants that are found here. I have a friend nicknamed ‘Birdy’ who is a Forestry Officer and a leading authority on the island’s flora and fauna. He is also a great and patient teacher. Year after year, he instructs me over and over about nature at its finest on this precious island. He also has a great sense of humor, so a backcountry outing under his tutelage is not only meaningful but is filled with bountiful laughter!
There are also some unbelievably beautiful places a little further from my Roseau-area home. The southeast coast is a special draw for me because of its stunning scenery, great little hikes; turtle watching opportunities and friendly people in my favourite villages: Rosalie; Grand Fond; Riviere Cyrique; Laplaine; Boetica; and Delices. The homey feel is exemplified when I linger over lunch at Rosalie Bay Resort at Rosalie or Jungle Bay Resort near Delices. The owners and staff of these establishments know how to present the essence of the Nature Island in complete ecological style. I always look forward to return day-visits as soon as I’ve left!
One of the most pleasant surprises about life on the Nature Island is the richness of the culture. Its Creole origin is an incredible blend of African, European and Kalinago traditions, including the music. I have reveled many times over at the annual World Creole Music Festival and dressed up in beautiful traditional wear every year on Creole Day. I’ve really appreciated the diversity of festivities such as Carnival, the pre-Lenten celebration, which is a load of fun too. There certainly are immeasurable ways to “free up,” that is, relax, unwind and have a great time in these amazing surroundings.
Another unforeseen gift that I have received in my adopted country is the evolution of some very rich and rewarding friendships – with Dominicans and expatriates alike. I’ve improved my French too, thanks to dedicated and enthusiastic teachers and my fascinating classmates at the Alliance Française de la Dominique. And my vocal and instrumental colleagues are real treasures. I can’t believe that I have been able to sing with musicians of a very high caliber in this tiny little place.
Overall, blessings have abounded for me on the Nature Isle. That is not to say that it has been entirely easy: living in a different culture in a developing nation has numerous challenges – none of which are mentioned here. An expatriate life on Dominica certainly might not suit everyone. However, I would urge you to make the trip to this wonderful paradise and decide for yourself! For me, Dominica’s abundant healthful benefits have definitely made my life here completely worthwhile.