Time to write about Dominica. About three months ago this island was hit by a tropical storm named Erika. This caused major floods of water and massive mudslides throughout the island destroying buildings, at least 30 people lost their lives, more were missing and it left thousands of people homeless. 80% of the country was without electricity. The island has a very rugged landscape making mudslides and flash floods dangerous since almost everything is near some sort of hill. This happened around the time I started my trip plans. I felt that a visit here might do some good for the locals, at least I’ll help out the economy with my little share, which isn’t that much considering my budget. Still today there’s visible damage after the storm, some roads look very unsafe, since parts of the road have been swept away. Seen some abandoned houses. Looking at old pictures from the ‘Trafalgar falls’ shows it’s completely different now. The main airport (Douglas Charles airport) was closed off for weeks. I talked to a guy today as I was waiting for the bus pretty close to the airport. He was there with a chainsaw chopping off all the trees lying on and around the airport, and according to him it took two weeks to get rid of all debree and stones making the airstrip functional again. Read an old newspaper article saying that all equipment at the airport was damaged and unusable. This explains why the airport felt so primitive. It was measured the airport got at least 30cm (12″) of rainfall during the storm. Cost to repair infrastructare after the storm is measured to being around 50% of Dominicas annual GDP (the total GDP being around $500 million). Dominicas prime minister estimates the country has been set back 20 years in the damage inflicted by the storm.
Douglas Charles airport and my first day here
Continuing on to my short visit here. This became my quickest flight ever, because of being so tired. Sat down, shut my eyes after filling the immigration form and woke up during the landing. The flight itself isn’t long, but being so tired made it go ultra fast. As I mentioned earlier, the airport was very primitive. All luggage was taken on to a cart and pulled by hand to the terminal. Wasn’t far though. The whole arrival area was so small, that when you entered from the airstrip, you could see the exit maybe 15m away. In between there was immigration control, the luggage drop off zone and customs. Not even vending machines or anything at all unnecessary. Got into a taxi after I got through. On the way to the hotel I observed how much forest and green areas there was everywhere along the way. Very beautiful island. Came to the hotel… But little did I know, that the check in time was after 15:00. Had six hours to just do nothing. I never slept the night before because of sleeping so long the day after partying with Kenny and the guys and my flight left so early. So I got some sleep on the porch.
Finally got to check in, just lied down in the hammock with my computer doing some schoolwork and also browsing the web reading about what’s going on in the world. Always something going on back at home and Europe, especially after I left. This day was mainly for building up some energy for the day after. Did some research on what to do here on the island, the hotel owner lent me a map and a book giving me some inspiration. Found some interesting things but couldn’t really decide which things to do. Fell asleep pretty early and woke up 7.30.
My day of Dominican action!
I made some loose plans the day before, not really knowing what to do. I knew my options at least. Packed my backpack with my snorkeling equipment, a towel, my hiking/Nike shoes (which smell so terrible I can’t use them unless somewhere deep in the woods), extra batteries for the GoPro and my camera. Even brought the book of Dominica and just at the last moment I remembered to bring a plastic bag to protect my gear in case of heavy rainfall.
Ate breakfast at the hotel, still considering my options. Got a little bit messed in the head when the owners kid was watching some childrens program about learning you ABC’s.. It was so repetitive and got stuck in my head disrupting my morning peace. I’m definitely not a morning person. Got a small jug of coffee which filled up three cups but wasn’t enough to wake me up. Set of downhill towards the main road.
Didn’t have to wait long before the bus came going to Roseau (Capital). Jumped in and I got the last availible seat. The buses here were also of Toyota HiAce model like many of the buses in Antigua. Roads are turning and twisting, uphill, downhill… A couple of places during the drive to Roseau had still signs after storm. Large pieces of asphalt was missing without anything beneath, making the road a one way street. These things could be in the worst places possible like just after a steep downhill turn. I had to give my trust to the driver, hoping that he knew what he was up to. It took over an hour with the stops. The driver had installed two separate stereos in the car, one for himself and the other for the passengers. I’m so impressed by all ingenuity I come across here or elsewhere while travelling. From the back I heard “Omi – Cheerleader” and from the front came “Bob Marley – I shot the sheriff”.
“I shot the sheriff, myself a cheerleader, shoot the deputy, she’s always…”. Mixing those two might not be the easiest thing to do even for a professional. Imagine how horrible it sounded. Making it more fun was that the drivers seat back was a little bit out of order. When he braked, the back followed him forward. It was loose, maybe not going backwards but every time he braked coming down a steep hill, it would follow his movements. Didn’t notice it at first, but he was grabbing for something and that’s when it happened big time. Came to Roseau and I made up my mind during the drive. Told the driver to drop me off at the bus going to “Trafalgar falls”.
Jumped off and saw the text on the windshield saying “BigMama”. I noticed how almost all buses and many cars got some sort of text on the windshield. Wrote some of them down not to forget them. “Patience, Donkey, Serious Times, ’til death do us apart, Hustler Ambition, Dog Cat Dog”… Lots more, some had put up a long message which was impossible to read whilst driving or being on the move.
Finally came to my first stop. The government takes admission fees for many places worth to see. Costs $5 or you could get a weekly pass for something inbetween $11-$14. Trafalgar falls is a twin fall. They are named as the father (65m) and the mother (35m). It was difficult getting the greatness of the falls in a picture although trying to photograph from many different angles. On my way to the falls I came across a large crab. Didn’t expect that fella being around there. He came running towards me, and as the real tourist I am, strolling around with flip-flops in the jungle I was 100% sure he would attack my toes and chop them off, bringing dinner to his family. Got him on video running towards me. But the crabby creature just wanted to go back to his shelter which was under one of the man made wooden steps. I left him there, scarred for life.
Didn’t spend too much time here, since the storm had filled up the hot pools around the area and we weren’t allowed going down to swim by the waterfalls anymore. Started walking back along the way where the bus would come and pick me up. Got a couple of good photos. Came back to Roseau and found the bus going to “Champagne Beach”.
Bought two beers and the admission ticket ($5). Needed the two beers to get myself ready for snorkeling. I’m a bit afraid of water and the open sea. That would be one of my few fears in life and the biggest reason I haven’t got to do real diving yet. A couple of beers tend to loosen me up a little bit. Although I gotta say, the Kubuli bottles are small, talking Redbull 25cl small… Came out to the beach all alone, took my time preparing and finishing the beer. Went in trying to find the “champagne”. Volcanic activity below the sea bed creates bubbles making it look like your in a champagne glass swimming. Swam around trying to find the bubbles without any result at all. Went back and forth, checked the recording time on my GoPro saying 25min. Luckily I didn’t feel exhausted at all so went on searching. Saw some cool fish, like the bumphead parrotfish. It’s an ugly looking fella, and what I just found out was the it uses the head to ram other bumpheads for territorial purposes. The picture wasn’t the best and it went hiding too quickly for me to get a better shot. Otherwise there was lots of barracudas, fishes in many many different colors, black, white, yellow, turquoise, blue or a mix of those. I’m so bad at knowing what kind of species it is, doesn’t matter if we’re talking about birds, lizards, snakes, fishes, flowers, trees… Pictures will have to do. Continued swimming for over 1h before I saw two people snorkeling aswell. Went over there and asked about the whereabouts of champagne reef in English. It was just underneath us but the woman hadn’t seen it yet so she yelled to her husband in Swedish, “Det är ju för fan inte alls här (it’s not fucking here)”.. What are the odds of meeting so many Swedish people everywhere on these islands. The husband was right. Champagne was so close the beach, and my search expanded very far away in all directions. Must’ve been that the champagne activity wasn’t the strongest at the moment. Tried taking some photos of the phenomena before returning to the beach. 1h 13min on the timer. But still not too exhausted.
Headed back to the road to catch the bus. Back to Roseau listening to Reggae in the bus at high volume. Had a meal at KFC and went on the search for a pharmacy to buy some sun blocker and something to get my scratched mosquito bites dealt with. Never seen a pharmacy like this one. Selling radio equipment, a thick TV, batteries, rum!! Found my stuff and got out trying to find buses going to Emerald Pool.
The pool was halfway back home. Bus was so crammed with people, It was full before three more people wanted in. There is a big difference in sizes and shapes of people here and back home. On average, there goes one European butt per Caribbean butt cheek. I’ve seen some real big mommas around here with butts larger than Swedish girls. Well back to the bus and why I got into that topic. This shit was like playing tetris, put the fat white guy but with a normal ass between two not too fat but heavy duty ass Dominicans and just squeeze him in. Then we sat like that for at least 15min, the heat was killing us, couldn’t move a millimeter and the driver kept trying to overtake but going uphill slowed the bus down. He probably had to put in first gear on some of the hills. When some guys jumped off I tried to pry myself out of the human tetris block we built in the back seat. Got some help and could sit down two rows ahead. Got to the drop off zone at 17.20. No one there. It was completely dead. Normally you’d have to pay the admisson fee, but I snuck in knowing my time almost was out before darkness. The second I set my foot on the path in the rainforest, it started pouring down. Took the plastic bag and put it around all my water sensitive things and wrapped it around before putting it in my backpack using my towel as a shield. Raised the tempo a notch, got to the pool after 10min. Took some photos and a quick swim. Loved the refreshing water, being colder than the sea atleast but not cold enough in my opinion.
Took another way back, because I heard there were splendid viewing points along the route. I’m happy I chose the other path, got some nice pictures. Went quickly back to the parking area and main road to catch a bus. Lucky as always, bus came in a couple of minutes. 5min later it was dark. Got back to the hotel exhausted.
Conclusion of the day
Happy that I did so much for so little money. The hotel wanted $18 for dinner the day before and that made me sick. (All prices here are in American dollars except if anything else is mentioned). But getting the seven buses and in total maybe 3-4 hours in a bus to get everywhere, 5 beers, a big meal at KFC + the admission fees in total $10 (no one there to collect at Emerald pool) for below $30 is a bargain. A trip organised by someone would be at least $50 per place, Emerald pool being over $100. That is insane money. Sure you get a guide talking but no, not for that kind of money. It’s just not worth it. That is Tripadvisor prices, might be cheaper if you call around.
This is something I really wanted to do, a 6-7h long hike to one of the largest boiling lakes in the world. Sadly due to lots of rain recently, the tour isn’t considered to be safe.
My chill day
Yesterday was a calm day. Just stayed in the hotel most of the day. At 16.00 it was time to get some food. Went down to the main road taking the bus to a small restaurant. Ate some rice and chicken. I could feel my cravings for chocolate and potato chips.Wanted 2 twix and 2 kit kats at least. But there was nothing around. All places that seem to sell stuff have lots of empty shelves. Must be because of the storm earlier and that food is prioritized. This wasn’t in a town or anything. But the day before when I walked around the capital, seemed pretty empty there aswell but didn’t pay too much attention.
Throughout the evening my cravings got worse, I’m used to always being able to take my car to a 24/7, buy anything I crave and be a happy man again. Guess it’s a little bit different when travelling. You gotta plan want you’re going to crave. It’s difficult when it comes to chocolate since it melts by the heat.
Didn’t do too much. I planned on doing school work but never got around doing it. So got some catching up to do today and the rest of the week.
Travelling and chill days
Being on the road is exhausting. I’m always more exhausted coming back from a 1-2 week vacation than before I left. Small amount of time and lots of things to do and see. No exception here, but you got to find a sweet spot. How much can you do and see without becoming too tired affecting school work and other things around? Trying to keep everything at a good level will keep my well being higher in the long run. Sure I might miss out on a thing or two, but I can live with that. Living on the road must be considered like being at home. You always have days when you’re not too effective. Knowing that I got a beach around the corner at all times takes away the urge to be there all the time.
Departing to Barbados in a couple of hours. I’ll be living close to the southern coast for ten days, having two amazing beaches nearby. I’m hoping Barbados will deliver some more city life for me again. Both Antigua and Dominica has less than 100.000 inhabitants. Barbados is close to 300.000 people. Going there with an open mind.