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Rainbows from Rain
Dominica is a green island because the plants grow well. The plants grow well because the soil is rich and there is plenty of moisture. The reason that there is plenty of moisture is that there is a lot of rain, mist, fog, and clouds.
Or to put it another way, Dominica has a tropical wet climate with characteristically warm temperatures and heavy rainfall..
The moisture is brought by the trade winds.
Most of the rain falls between June and October (the Green Season). Average yearly rainfall along the windward east coast may exceeds 200 inches, and exposed mountainsides receive up to 355 inches which is among the highest accumulations in the world.
On the leeward west coast, it is much dryer - getting only about 70 inches which is about the same as the Gulf Coast of the USA. Humidity is closely tied to rainfall patterns.
What this means is that you should expect rain, especially if you go up into the RAIN forest. You may want an umbrella (the street vendors all have umbrellas over their stands and I think this is as much for protection against sun as against rain. Bob took an umbrella in the morning walking around down, but not on the tour bus.
The streets have the old fashioned open gutters to carry the rain down to the harbor.
Intermittent rain also means that you often see rainbowsRelated to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Don't wait too long to book tours
If you are visiting by cruise ship, try to book your shore excursions early otherwise you may find the best guides already fully booked. I first contacted Bumpiing Tours but he was fully booked so then I tried Reyno Tours which is who we went with.
After reading through some of the comments on the Cruise Critic boards, I wished we had opted for a different tour guide, maybe something a little smaller than didn't hit all the same sights as everyone else. One that appears to be highly recommended for smaller tours of 4-6 people is Woody. It's double the price of what we paid but from the glowing reviews it sounds like it might have been worth the extra money
Verify what the tour price includes
While not a huge deal, we were not advised that admission to Emerald Pool and Trafalgar Falls was not included in the tour price, it was an extra $5 per place per person, adding $10 to the price of the tour. One of the people on our tour was a bit upset by it, I wasn't but it still would have been nice to know. A lot of people don't think to bring along a lot of extra cash when they go out on a tour, it would be a real shame to show up and not have enough money to see what you thought you were going to see.
Bumpiing Tours, on the other hand, clearly states that site passes are provided and that they have beer, soft drinks and water on every tour which ours did not.
Not so nice little village in the Carib Territory (same spot where L'Escalier Tete Chien trail starts).
We passed through it twice and both times there were people in the middle of the road blocking us.
First time we stopped - not knowing what was wrong - and they tried to get in the car. It was the only time while on the island when we felt threatened. We had to secure the doors to the car and put up the windows. On our return, same thing happened, but this time we expected it so we were prepared - car being secure, we kept on blowing the horn and we didn't stop.
When we told the story to some locals, they said that the area is known as a trouble spot and we should avoid it.
L'Escalier Tete Chien
Be aware if you plan to hike there on your own - it's a very short hike and you might be tempted.
There have been several reports of tourists getting mugged on the trail. Two local guides (and then some locals we spoke to) warned us about it.
We decided it's not worth the hassle and gave up on it.
If you still want to do it, hire a guide to be safe.
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Roseau (pronounced Rosey-O) remains an old time colonial capitol. I think many cruise ship visitors do not know what that phrase (old colonial capitol) means. It means the compact city has covered markets, barbed wire on the top of walls, rusty metal roofs and fences, and distinctive cornerhouses - plus "ramshackle West Indian colonial houses with louvred windows, intricate fretwork, and sagging second-floor balconies held up over narrow streets by stilts." (photo 2)
Cruisers used to the sanitized Disney version of the past think the town is poor (which it is) and dirty rather than colorful and atmospheric.
So before you go to Roseau, be prepared for what you are going to see.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
When I was walking around the market, I saw this door with a sign on it stating the the use of the "Public Convenience" was $1.00
I have also heard that one should always carry toilet paper when visiting Dominica.Related to:
- Budget Travel
The island has 6 ATMs....6!! I can get to 6 ATM's from my house in 5 minutes. But...thats Dominica! When you arrive try getting to Rosseau or some bank nearby to exchange money. There is no ATM or bank by the airport. The American dollar isn't super friendly here as it is in some Caribbean islands. Exchange to the EC and it should make your trip easier. Normally, the exchange is around 2.6 EC to 1 USD.
The crazy looking guy with a machete!
Don't worry! Every carries around machetes! Remember this island's main industry is agriculture! They call them cutlasses and people who carry them are normally super friendly! it freaked me out while walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night to see a teenager yielding one approach me, but Im alive!
If you get car sick on windy roads and high altitudes, this place might be bad for you! Just prepare by taking some medicine prior. I was the only one that got sick throughout the whole time on the island, but its not uncommon for even locals to get sick.
The problems with flying...
Just know that flying in to Dominica is a bit tricky sometimes. Some planes have to turn around and go to another island if its too cloudy. So, don't be shocked. Even hotel owners say this is an issue and happens often. This happened to a large group of 19 people we met. They were flown to Barbados and stayed at a 5 star resort and got to swim in a super nice beach...so its not always SO bad! Also, its been known that luggage doesn't get there on arrival, so either don't check your bags or bring an extra outfit in your carry on. Most arrive eventually. I had no problems with my bag.
Weirdos and beggers
In one way does Dominica compare to other places I've been. But beware of some people asking more money and some weird, cracked out people walking by. You may have to worry a bit about pick pocketing in the bigger cities, but don't worry about being mugged or violent crime. One guy, he was missing one arm, starting talking to us. Really nice...then asked for money. Also, this wasn't an issue but one woman called me over and said she LOVED my water bottle. I know she wanted it...but I said I needed it and said thanks!
Mosquitos and other bugs!
Weird...the first part of our trip we stayed in an open air room on the humid part of the island and had no issues. Then we went to Salisbury, Central East part of the island...I believe. My legs were devastated by mosquitos. Ask for a net or spray before you go to bed! I also got chiggers on my feet. I loved my time here...and a few itchy bites were worth it!
The Characters of Roseau
Just to warn you about the (harmless) characters I encountered in Roseau.... There's a guy with a wheelchair (he has no legs, should be easy enough to spot) who came up to us and asked for money a few times, he's alright, just a little scary looking and hard to understand. The locals chased him away a few times and said to us don't worry about him. All in all, no worries and another compliment to the Dominicans for going out their way to give us a hand. The Second gentleman goes by the name of "Poet Pete", I met him coming out of the restaurant in the street behind the post office (the leftmost road on the front i think). He gave me a poem and then he asked for some cash. I was grateful to give him some EC dollars as he had recited a very nice poem. Much better than "Any spare change?". He said his poem was original although I had my suspicions ("Beauty begins with a D"). The only thing to watch out for with this guy is his armpits, very fragrant. I met another couple of guys when I was eating a KFC who just wanted something to eat, it wasn't very good so I was happy to help. All in all, I was never in a position where I felt in danger. I think I felt safer in Dominica than I have anywhere else. A great place to be.
Strangers will accost you for drugs, flowers, etc.
For those of you visiting the Old Market, it is very possible that you will find someone walking past you offering an opportunity for you to buy drugs or hair braiding or a taxi tour or even flowers to help with the local school.
I had three out of those four offered to me - I don’t have much hair! Be especially careful of the drug dealers. They know they won’t be seeing you again and they don’t care how much trouble you might be getting into if you happen to be tempted. Caribbean jails tend to be dark and musty I imagine.
And I saw the little kids, small girls especially, going up to the older ladies trying to sell them flowers which they said would help out school programs for them. I think the older ladies were easier targets than the more energetic, younger shopaholics.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
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