Often confused with the Dominican Republic, a little island named Dominica is the place I dream of constantly. Without a doubt, Dominica is my favorite place. The island is small in a way that is so breathtakingly dreamy; there really is no other way to describe it. So small that you can drive around the entire island in five hours, but I don’t suggest you do that. Please don’t do this, you’ll miss all the beauty I’m referring to and those winding roads will surely make you carsick – beautiful things need to be taken in strides, slowly.
I visited Dominica at the most turbulent time in my life yet I still view it through rose-colored glasses, a bittersweet love affair that is buried deep in my soul. I was here with the man I had come to love deeply but who had also recently broken my heart so severely I wasn’t sure I’d ever recover. I wanted to be alone on the island but he was there, he was everywhere even when I was trying to escape him. A part of me wanted to escape him, yet another part desperately wanted him to be mine.
I had vaguely read about the Botanical Gardens and wanted to venture there on my own for solitude. The weather peaked at being almost unbearably hot (was it hard to catch my breath or was the heat playing games with me?) but my wanderlust would never allow me to simply whine and cease exploration. I couldn’t find the Gardens, and believe me getting lost in a place so small seems silly and I remember laughing at myself often those few days. Finally, to ask for directions (there was no one on the streets which I was later told was because no one went outside in this mid-day heat, silly girl) I walked into a quiet spice and rum shop where four young men told me it was much too hot for me to be trying to walk up there. I should stay and chat they said, so they offered me a ‘shandy’ (a ginger-beer-lemonade type of hybrid that was all types of delicious) and so I did. I barely noticed how the hours went by unhurried, as we discussed my Philosophy major and what purpose (if any) religion served in people’s lives. The highlight of Dominica? Its people – so genuine, soulful, and colorful.
When I ventured back outside, I instantly remembered I was supposed to meet back with my bedmate. Suffice to say he was furious I had disappeared so many hours without a word. Suffice to say I could care less how he felt, and perkily suggested the Botanical Gardens because what else were we going to do really? We walked the ten or so blocks to the foot of the hill, and started uphill to the Gardens. Dominica is a place that can take you from a place of gloom and pick you up with its magnetic encompassing beauty. At least this is what it did for me. Here was all this majestic flora and fauna, and reaching the top of the Gardens promised a picturesque view of the town Roseau. If you squint, you can even see Martinique off in the water. When we reached the top, we had an argument – I screamed and sobbed for what seemed like forever –after all I had just found out prior to arriving here that this man had played a twisted game with my sincere love in ways that are indescribable. I didn’t want to be here on this most beautiful island with the person I loved, who I was unsure could love me. I wanted to go home, but being a broke university student I couldn’t afford a plane ticket. Embarrassingly, I pleaded with him to just buy me a ticket and I would later pay him back but no luck. There were plenty of ugly moments following this revelation atop this hill, but suddenly a part of my mind snapped and told me to look out. I looked out, saw this city of Roseau, the rest of Dominica stretching out behind and somehow the view gave me the reassurance that everything would be great.
Despite the Botanical Gardens healing abilities, there are other places too, like:
- The Morne Trois Pitois, the ‘mountains of three peaks’ that you’ll glimpse no matter where you look;
- Emerald Pool; shimmering emerald-green water supplied by the 50-foot waterfall;
- Roseau’s Saturday Morning Market; go very early,eat breakfast there, buy coconut water and watermelon; and ask people where to go, what to do, where to eat and they’ll offer up suggestions.
Broken-hearted or not, Dominica will infect you with sun, sudden bouts of rain and people who will chat with you for hours. No matter what your situation, this island will stay with you long after you leave and you too will be dreaming of how soon you can come back. I always am.
This Story was curated by Adey Farah.