Dominica is an island in the Caribbean; the people are extremely friendly and respectful. I carried on conversations with many locals who were all more than willing to give me an insight into their life and beliefs. The first day I was there I went to Trafalga Falls and hiked about an hour to take a dip in the beautiful waterfalls. I visited the Botanical Gardens with trees up to 200 years old and a significance of their independence (a tree that fell on a school bus in a tornado in 1979, one year after they gained their independence from Britain.) I then visited Titou Gorge, caves with water; it was actually the location of filming for Pirates of the Caribbean 2. The view was gorgeous, actually Johnny Depp said if he were to spend his time anywhere in the world it would be there, so you can only imagine. We then climbed the small waterfall inside the cave which led us to a larger waterfall and great view. Getting down wasn't easy but we managed : ) We became good friends with our tour guide and he took us to his daughter's birthday party, there they served us different types of rum (which is the alcohol they drink most often and make on the island themselves), I was given cow skin, possum (yes, the ones that hang from trees haha) and a sausage looking thing that had cow intestine and rice. Oddly enough they most often eat fish and chicken but that is what they served us and as respect we accepted the offerings and ate their local food. Everyone on the island is friendlier than anyone in the United States; we met our tour guide, Curtis' whole family and were taken around to see a panoramic view of the city. We also went to pick guavas off trees and ate them. You often see the locals around trees at this time of year eating the fruit they grow and talking about their day. The population of the island is about 77,000 and they have about seven women to every man on the island! So guys you know where your next destination should be haha. It kind of sounds like DU.
The next day we went into town, drank their local punch, sorrell, which tasted amazing and had a codfish sandwich. We then tried to find our way to the local tourist office to go zip lining. Considering the streets don't have any signs we were a bit lost, I proceeded to ask a local for directions, he then mentioned he was going that way and so he walked with us. Dexter was his name and we quickly found out he was our age, attending the local college and was majoring in tourism. We convinced him to go zip lining with us since he had never been and he ditched work and spent the day with us. We had fun on what we later found was not just zip lining but what the locals call the "Caribbean Challenge" that included 16 rope courses, very challenging but completely worth it when we realized it led to the most beautiful view of the jungle and one of the 365 rivers on the island.
I spoke to many about the poverty in the country, one man explaining that with the attitude of all the people and how kind hearted and warm everyone is, the poverty is not felt as much. There is poverty but everyone survives. The crime rate is 4.5%, accidents are scarce and there were only a handful of homeless on the island. The vibrancy of the natives of Dominica is unmatched with anyone I have come in contact with. Although words can't quite express how I felt and I didn’t want to write a novel, I hope you can imagine the immense culture difference and how beautiful the understanding of happiness is for these people; with minimal they are more satisfied than the most wealthy person in the United States. They may not always agree with the government or the party in power--- in this case it's the Labor party [thank you Gigi, Dean and Alison for making more aware of everyone's political standing] but they are willing to devote themselves to their government because it is their home, something you don't often see in the U.S. I'm excited to see what I find in Brazil as I will be reaching the Amazon tomorrow.
Hope this was insightful! I'll update again when I have time,
Kristal Sajasi Class of 2012, (Political Science major)