Mark Stratton, four days after burying his sister, found solace in what he considers to be the “The Caribbean’s Most Uplifting Island”, Dominica.
When not dabbling in treatises, Hippocrates found time to write: ‘Nature itself is the best physician’. This was a prescription I desperately sought. Four days before arriving in Dominica – the East Caribbean’s self-styled ‘Nature Island’ – my sister was buried after a Sisyphean struggle against cancer. I arrived in the Caribbean, grief-stricken and emotionally drained.
To contextualize Dominica’s restorative qualities, it’s necessary to point out it is unlike any other Caribbean island. I wasn’t seeking recuperation by parking myself on a dreamy beach on a drip-feed of rum-punch, but instead craved the soul-rejoicing uplift nature can offer.
With few serviceable beaches, Dominica’s currency is the outdoors – hiking, diving, whale-watching, and wellness. Its gravity-defying tropical forests fall away from a central mountainous spine where sulphurous hot springs bubble away despite the island’s waning volcanicity with the Alka-Seltzer of time. Its volcanoes and deep forests remind me of Costa Rica, without the rampant biodiversity – although the islanders talk fondly of their endemic ‘mountain chicken’, which is actually a frog and apparently quite tasty.
Playing to its strengths Dominica recently launched its ‘Safe in Nature’ program that not only allows outdoors activities to be pursued within a quarantine bubble but also offers a robust defense against visitors importing the virus to an island that has carefully shielded its citizens. To date, Dominica has recorded 88 cases, and no deaths.
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