Dominica is still on my Bucket List, even though I’ve previously lived here for more than two decades and am now a senior.
The intriguing Nature Island has a permanent hold on me. From the moment I first arrived in March 1997, up to now, I still can’t get enough of the place. Even though I relocated to Canada a few years ago, I’m always eager to come back. Here’s why.
Although my first return visit to my beloved adopted country happened a few months after Hurricane Maria, I could only admire the resilience and determination of the people to set things right. I was warmly welcomed back, and I happily helped out wherever my skills were needed.
Despite all that Dominicans have been through, there remains an openness to engage in conversation. My connections to the people and the land are strong here.
Nature is recovering well too, and I continually feast on its offerings: endless shades of green, hues of blues, rosy sunsets, flourishing flowers in bold, bright colours. It’s sheer joy to gaze at the rugged topography of Dominica offshore while searching for elusive whales. After a challenging hike to a mountain summit, I marvel at breathtaking vistas and seemingly bottomless verdant valleys, while gazing upwards makes me feel closer to heaven.
It’s truly exciting to escape from the city to the rainforest in a mere 15 minutes. To breathe deeply of pure clean air high in the mountains and drink water from an underground source, confident that it is the best one can get – probably anywhere. I’m grateful for the multitude of healing choices: to sit in a river, with its strong flow massaging me; to revive in a cool pool under a waterfall after a long hike into the interior; and after the trek, soaking sore muscles in a hot mineral ‘bath’ – far from any madding crowd.
Thanks to Dominica, I’ve become a genuine ‘foodie’. It’s a result of years of eating organic, freshly harvested, wholesome produce, dressed in a variety of local seasonings and spices. Meals just don’t taste as flavourful anywhere else!
Then there are the festivities. The Dominican culture proudly celebrates traditions that date back centuries, and they do it in style. I’ve always been enchanted by the Independence season, and all things Creole: the food; the fashion; the language; the music. Shortly after Christmas, Carnival season arrives in all its vibrant, vivacious glory. It’s filled with creative costumes, clever calypso songs and an abundance of opportunities for fun!
There is always something new to do every visit: this time, a tour of the latest hotel; a fancy French resto in the rainforest; yoga on the porch of a restored estate house; a remote trail to hike; a pretty waterfall far up a river; another hot mineral pool; making more friends.
For my next return ‘home’, I’m already adding activities and repeat pleasures to my Dominica Bucket List. I strongly urge you to add the Nature Island to yours!
Gwenith Whitford is a freelance journalist, poet, blogger and editor who has written extensively about the Nature Island for over 20 years. She currently resides in Canada and winters in Dominica.