17 February 2015
 Roseau, Dominica

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We arrived in Dominica on a Tuesday, which is two days and 522 or so years after Christopher Columbus sailed by.

The island got is name from the Latin word for Sunday (Dominica). By this time, it seems, Columbus was running out of saints for the many islands of the Caribbean.

Dominica sits midway along the Eastern Caribbean archipelago, just a few miles from the French islands of Martinique to the south and Guadeloupe to the north.

Dominica is a fairly large island with a small population: 72,000 people spread over about 290 square miles or 750 square kilometers.

Most of the population is in and around the capital city of Roseau with the remainder in tiny settlements.

It’s a volcanic island, very green, with tropical forest covering two-thirds of the land.

There are relatively few beaches, and they are not blessed with acres of pillowy white sand. There’s a lot of rain, which means many waterfalls, rivers, and lakes.

And to their credit, Dominicans have decided that much of their future lies in eco-tourism.

There are a lot of parallels to Costa Rica, and that is a meritorious comparison.

We were last here on January 23, and you can see my blog post for that date for additional information.

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Dominica has still not fully recovered from the devastation wrought by Hurricane David in 1979. At the botanical garden in Roseau, a school bus lies below a fallen tree; it was empty during the storm. 

Today,  though,  I went with a group of guests on an expedition to an unusual place on this extraordinary island: the Bois Cotlette plantation at the south end of the island.  This is the oldest remaining plantation on Dominica,  dating from the 1720s.

Dominica was never a success as a colonial plantation island and it appears that Bois Cotlette was,  in the end,  an unsuccessful real estate and agricultural project. It offers,  though,  a fascinating glimpse of the real Caribbean.

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Bois Cotlette sits at the end of a long pathway…it’s not reasonable to call it a road…at the southern end of the island.  The remains of the processing plant is framed by a huge poinsettia tree. A large stone windmill might have been used to crush cane,  although archaeologists question whether it ever was out to use. 

Bois Cotlette  (named after a species of tree,  the Cotlette,  that grows there) was purchased several years ago by an American couple who now live there with their for Cookeville and hope to restore it to a working plantation and a demonstration of old times.  The future may lie in cacao: gourmet chocolate from local trees.

All photos copyright Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.


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