I am Dominica. Are you?

As we walked along the streets of the small town of Portsmouth, everyone made us feel so welcomed.  Warm smiles and friendly greetings allowed us to feel right at home.  In other places, the cultures are more reserved and private, leaving us to feel like intruders when we step ashore.  I have learned to tread lightly and always begin any question with a simple, "Good Afternoon, how are you?" In some shops in the Bahamas, for example, I was ignored completely until I used this proper greeting.  But here in Dominica, the folks were happy to see us, no matter what we said or didn't say.

'Alexis' - our social director in Dominica
'Michael' bringing passion fruit!
Even when we pulled into the bay, a 'boat boy' radioed us a welcome and introduced himself as our guide while here in Dominica.  The 'boat boy' is common in many Windward Islands, and we hadn't seen them since our time in these islands last year.  They earn a living helping the cruising community by offering tours and services that we need.  Alexis was the one who radioed us first, so he became our 'boat boy' for our visit.  He drove his skiff out to say hello and inform us about the various tours, laundry facilities, and trash removal in the area.  He answered all of our questions, and I secretly liked having a local liaison on call.  He wasn't pushy or overbearing -  just available, which was nice.  Other locals also see the cruising community as a way to earn a living.  Men will come out by boat or even surfboards to offer fresh fruits or trash removal for a small fee.  The kids loved running out to see who was knocking on our hull and what they had to offer!  The vendors were always very generous to them, giving free mangoes and extra samples.
We could get a bag full of passion fruit for only $5 EC (about $1.50 US)!!

Denny - letting us sample some juicy mangoes
Main market in Portsmouth

We probably could have stayed aboard and gotten everything we needed delivered, but then we would have missed so much!  The outdoor produce market was an array of local foods, some we'd never seen before!  So as we walked by each stall, we'd talk to the vendor and listen carefully as they excitedly shared favorite recipes for each food.  Then we would come home and have a banquet of fresh fruit for our next meal!  The pineapples were the best we'd ever eaten!  
Trying to wheel and deal for a good price on pineapple
These two guys gave us a few very detailed Gooseberry recipes for juice and jam
Dominica boasts lush forests where fresh fruits grow in abundance.  Along the roads, mangoes hung low in the trees and bananas grew in huge bunches.  Every plant we saw seemed to offer something edible or medicinal.  I learned from the locals that in Dominica one will never go hungry, because food grows so easily here, but work is very hard to find.  Portsmouth was unlike many of the anchorages we've visited along the way in one blaring way... the waterfront was not lined with restaurants and cruiser's bars or souvenir shops and t-shirt boutiques.

Fishermen's nets at the dock
However, there was a large, cement fishing dock lined with wooden fishing skiffs and piled high with assorted nets.  A man was sitting alone, repairing a net, when we greeted him and started light conversation.  Gradually, he shared his story with us.  He had worked around the United States at various jobs, but trouble with his marriage had caused him to lose his green card and head back to Dominica.  Here, it's so expensive to buy necessities, because they all have to be shipped in, that many people struggle to survive.  Anything other than the things that nature offered freely were extremely overpriced.  He didn't have much, but his positive outlook was priceless.  He told us that the many challenges he's faced in life have only taught him and strengthened him.  "If you see failure or obstacles as defeat, then you will stay defeated.  But I am not a victim of life's hardships, I am better because of them."  Wow, Mark and I walked away in awe of the spirit of these people - full of faith, hope, and determination.

One morning, a woman came by our boat with one of the other local 'boat boys'.  Beatrice was from Brittany, France, a free-spirited traveler trying to get to Panama by boat.  She rode with us from Dominica to Carriacou to Grenada as our foreign exchange student.  The kids loved her company - doing art projects, learning a little French, and doing cannonballs off the transom steps!  I was intrigued by her "unschooling" educational philosophies, and she enjoyed watching my structured "U.S.-certified teacher-ized"  homeschooling technique.  It was a time to share - ideas, space, culture, and life - with a stranger, who became a friend after only 2 and a half weeks.

Beatrice, our French stow-away :)
Dominica stuck to us.  It amazed us and drew us into it's culture and unique personality.  If it were human, it would be wearing Birkenstocks, a broad-rimmed hat and a contagious smile, inviting you to pick a mango and stay a while.

Here are the videos from our two field trips in Dominica!


Comments

  1. Just watched...thank you for sharing:-)

    Can't wait until the next one!

    Miss you guys!
    Kellie

    ReplyDelete
  2. I watched the Rainforest video with my morning coffee. Great! Thank you for taking me there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Why so many days in between posts?

    ReplyDelete
  4. kwmINDY the reason for the delay between posts is due to internet connections. It takes a lot of bandwidth to create a blog as we have either a lot of pictures for each post and or a video. We can't do our blog updates over our satellite connection as this would be very expensive.

    We are now in a good internet spot and will have several blog entries done this week. I just added a new one today. :-)

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  5. Hi, Jo here, in Seabeck Wa. I offered to crew for you on your delivery voyage. Are you totally happy with your vessel? You must be, as you basically designed it yourself. You guys are so attuned to a sensible cruzing lifestyle.
    Your blog is so very entertaining and I thank you for all your hard work in sharing your stories, adventures, and experiences. I do vicariously enjoy the voyage. Should you get in a bind for a boatsitter or crew, just let me know. Much aloha!

    ReplyDelete

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