Thursday, January 20, 2011

We Believe in the Face of the Moon-Dominica

I spent the past two day on the Island of Roseau, Dominica (Dom-in-ee-ka). The night before we docked, the door to the deck of my floor was open; Karissa and I could feel the mugginess in the hall, an indication of the humidity we would be subjected to the next day. The tour I signed up for was of the Emerald Pools and the Carib Indian Territory.

I got ready for my excursion and realized this was the first time I was pretty much on my own for the first time in awhile (Karissa and our other friends had signed up for other activities). At first I felt a little lost, and then saw a familiar (someone who had been in one of my orientation groups) so I reintroduced myself and realized it’s not that hard to make friends if you’re willing to put yourself out there.

We boarded the buses that awaited the SAS group at the end of the pier and were on our way. Our guides names was Sherri and she filled us in on the history of Dominica on our way to the Emerald Pool, which by the way is named that because the area that surrounds it is so green. A few interesting facts:

1) They grow sugar cane in Dominica, but not for sugar, it’s for rum

2) They have three universities on the island. Two for medicine and one that is general studies

3) There are 365 rivers, “One for everyday of the year” where they go fishing and do their laundry every Sunday

4) They “believe in the face of the moon…for cuttin’ da yams, makin’ da babies, etc.”- I want to look further into this idea because I don’t remember everything she was saying about it, unfortunately, internet on the ship is not really worth using other than for necessities…email, facebook, school work on occasion…

We got to our first stop which is part of the rainforest so we hiked/walked through the rainforest and learned about different trees on our way to the waterfall. There was one tree that was stripped of its bark. Any idea what tree grows in Dominica that’s bark would be useful? I don’t know the name of the tree either, but, its bark is apparently like Viagra… interesting.

We got to the Emerald Pool and saw the waterfall then continued on our way through the rainforest back to where we started. As scenic as this part of the tour was, I personally did not find it much different than the waterfalls I’ve seen anywhere else. The next part of the tour was definitely the more interesting and worthwhile part. We drove up a long windy, somewhat paved road to where the native Carib Indians still reside. We got off the buses and were greeted by the man who used to be the Chief of the tribe. When he was appointed, he was only 21 which made him the youngest leader thus far. Our tour would consist of seeing a home, watching one of the natives cook a native dish, and learning about sugar cane.

We were split up into groups of three and my group went to view the home first. I found this to be the most interesting part of the tour. We were greeted by the man who owned the home and had built it with his own hands. There was an outdoor shower, the walls were made of tin, a stove with a roof over it and a shed next to it with cooking materials, a gazebo type thing where a woman was sitting making baskets, a man made pond (which the man of the house makes use of by going to the river and catching little fish, then putting them in the pond located next to his kitchen, and catching them when they are ready from there), and the main house that was up on stilts where we could see the faces of little boys peaking out the windows, running away when they saw us notice them.

The man who lived there showed us every plant in his garden and explained what they were all useful for. Some were for inflammation, some were for fever, some were good for cancer, some were good for rashes, there was literally a use for every single one. As the tour went on we were curious about the actual house, on the stilts. We weren’t sure if we were welcome inside but one of the girls decided it couldn’t hurt to ask, so she did, and after the mother went inside and perhaps scanned the room to make sure it was appropriate for other people, she welcomed us inside. We learned that she was the mother of 5 boys and they all lived in this two bedroom house that had two rooms and a living/family room kind of area with no furniture. One of the rooms was for the parents, and the other, which consisted of one bed, was for the boys. The clothes hung from the beams on the ceiling and some were thrown under the bed and sitting on the floor outside the bedroom, one of the boys was playing video games on his laptop. Next to the laptop was a shelf with an enormous set of speakers hooked up to a boom box, and on the shelf next to that, was a little Nokia cell phone (it reminded me of my very first phone) plugged into its charger. It was crazy to see these self sufficient people who live on the outskirts of a city in order to maintain that lifestyle, using these modern technologies. I suppose that says something about the world and how we determine what we spend money on these days. At this time, having access to a computer, and a cell phone to reach people is basically a necessity even in communities where you wouldn’t think that to be true. The speakers however, I can only assume those were there for fun…?

Next we went to see a young girl, about to turn 21, demonstrate making a type of bread. What was so different about this demonstration was that 1) the base of the “stove” was made of rocks, the fire was from wood, and it was outside with just a cloth covering and 2) this bread was cooked in a pan, over heat, but it was made from grains and the girl didn’t add any water to the substance. What resulted from this was what looked like pita bread with the texture of coos coos.

We then wandered over to another house where a man was demonstrating how to squeeze the sugar cane. He had a wood contraption that he put the cane on top of, and lowered a wood beam onto and it, which squeezed all the sugar juices out.

We ended the evening with some snacks from the land. There were fresh picked bananas and coconuts, cooked bananas, saltwater fish curry ( I didn’t try that. Sorry!), some kind of root which they was served cooked and uncooked (the cooked one tasted like a potato chip, the uncooked one tasted like a baked potato), and some kind of baked bread with a filling that tasted like what I would imagine Velveeta tastes like, so we determined that the filling was not fresh.

All in all, I’m glad I chose to do an excursion that was exclusive to the place I was in instead of something like hiking or river rafting that you can do anywhere.

When I get to the next port I’ll try to put pictures up and those will hopefully help you all to understand the stuff I’m talking about

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