I just got back from my ‘Walkabout’ – if you missed where and why I suggest you read my post Holy Hell I’m In A Funk. Basically my life had beat me down to the point of no return. In order to regain my sanity I undertook a solo trip to the Nature Isle of Dominica (no it’s not the Dominican Republic) in the Caribbean. I set my sights on hiking to the Boiling Lake, the second largest of it’s kind in the world, located on top of the 5th highest mountain in the Caribbean. Technically the Boiling Lake is a fumarole, an opening in or near a volcano, through which hot sulfurous gases emerge. I am all things overachieving.
Upon arrival in Dominica I was greeted with my luggage missing. Since I had actually gone to Dominica with my son in February to scuba dive (you can read about that here) and had my luggage lost then (yes I was 0-2 on bag arrival), I was prepared this time with a few things in my carry-on. The only issue was, that unlike last time, my luggage did NOT come in on the next plane. This meant I had to find a way back to the airport (an hour and a half away) to pickup my bag the next day. Please note – in a 3rd world country they DO NOT deliver your luggage to you like they do in America.
I left the airport slightly (read very) annoyed and negotiated a cab to take me to my cozy home away from home. After some back and forth we agreed on the price of $60 US vs the $100 US he wanted to charge. He was a lovely man who chatted me up for the hour plus ride, and then shit got real when we were about 10 minutes from my dwelling. The van coasted through a stop sign before settling on the side of the road. Apparently a spark plug had come loose, or some other WTF thing happened (I swear this shit only happens to me). He assured me all was fine and placed a call to his son to come help us out. We waited for over forty minutes while the kind group of gentleman about 30 feet away repeatedly came over, with beers in hand, to slur out their offer of assistance. I momentarily felt some relief when I noticed a police officer on his motorcycle pull up to the group of men – figuring he would eventually come over and offer some aid to my chauffeur whose vehicle was smoking just a few feet away. I was wrong. The cop didn’t even glance our way, but he did allow the gentlemen to sit in his side car with their beers and chatted them up a bit before speeding off past us with nary an offer of assistance. Eventually the man’s son arrived and I moved my luggage to his trunk praying he didn’t kill me instead of delivering me to my abode. However, once I saw the neighborhood my dwelling was in I might have taken the detour to the killing fields instead.
In an effort to not spend a fortune on this experience I arranged to stay in a small apartment in the tiny village of Layou. The apartment was only $45/night and was located beach front! I read the reviews on Trip Advisor and they were all glowing, the owner was an American who owns two houses on the island and would be there while I was visiting. She assured me the neighbors would be kind (they were), and informed me I was the 8th single woman to stay at the apartment in the last year. I felt pretty good about my accommodations – but I shoulda known.
The apartment was small, but it was only me, so I wasn’t too concerned – yet. However, the balcony was only accessible via an outside doorway. This meant the idea of me sneaking up there with my morning coffee in my jammies was quickly dashed. My hostess introduced me to the neighbors, all were nice or at least nodded in my direction. I was hopeful since there was a small store on one side of my place and a tiny bar on the other.
Here’s a feel for where I was living. I didn’t realize I was one of the few homes with water until I sat on my stoop Sunday morning sipping my coffee and watched the locals walk back and forth to collect water for their homes. I was surprised, but now I very much appreciate the concept of turning on a faucet to get water. Talk about some perspective.
What else I didn’t realize with my locale was that there were roosters. Very fucking loud roosters that woke me up at 4:30 am, this coupled with the bar next door not shutting down till after 11 pm I was one tired lady. Then there was the added joy of my A/C unit leaking all over the floor, requiring me to set up a few pots and towels to catch the overflow. Pfft…no big deal I was in the Caribbean and only paying $45/night! Then there was the unnerving comments I received every time I left my house.
“Hey, you’re pretty.”
“Wow, that black dress looks really good on you.” (please note this was my beach coverup, not a nice dress…)
“Hi, you here all week?”
“Anyone else with you?”
I love a nice compliment when I am out and about, however to be ogled at when I am hanging up my swim suit on the laundry line is not really the most appropriate time to hit on me. This made me less than enthused to leave my apartment to visit my balcony even more, and so I became a prisoner in my own place. The final straw was when I was washing dishes, picked up the soap, and out scattered a roach. Yup – fork in me done. I texted my hostess and informed her I would be relocating to a hotel, I thanked her, cleaned the place up, and headed the hell out of dodge.
I needed to find a place to stay stat, which is not the easiest on an island with limited hotels and availability. I contacted Ft. Young where my son and I had stayed and begged them to find me anything, I offered to move every night if I had to – which I did, sorta. They found me a deluxe room for two nights, no room for one night (holy shit where was I gonna sleep!), and then back to a different deluxe room for the remaining nights. I wasn’t too excited about paying deluxe room prices, but it was all they had and was a huge improvement on my current digs. However, I was very concerned about the lack of room for Wednesday.
My deluxe room was wonderful, there was a bed, air conditioning, and no roaches! YAY me! I checked in daily with the front desk for options the one night I had nothing and was continuously told, “No, sorry there have been no cancellations yet.” On Wednesday morning, the day I needed to check out, I called the front desk at 7:30 am reiterating how I would even sleep in a broom closet. My flexibility shook a ‘basic room’ from the rafters. I had a place to put my head, and luggage. The only issue was that, “the hot water was not as hot as you are use to.” This sounded questionable, but I really had no choice. The front desk personnel were very nice and did offer to send me a fruit plate to make up for the “not as hot water”, but I declined – in retrospect I shoulda taken the fruit plate. The fruit wouldn’t have made it any better, but it wouldn’t have made it worse either.
Do you know what “not as hot as you are use to” really means in the Caribbean? It means no hot water. I should say there was some if I allowed the shower to trickle out at the speed maybe Tinkerbelle would use to wash her body. However my body is nothing close to the size of Tink’s and my hair alone was close to Medussa’s, thanks to the heat and humidity. Bathing in my new home proved to be almost as challenging as my hike.
But…the room wasn’t the shit hole I started in so I made it work.
I’ll leave you with a picture off my balcony, the neighborhood roosters, and the beautiful Layou river. My short stay in Layou taught me a few things though. The lack of water and air conditioning meant the neighborhood was alive early and interacted with each other, something that does not happen in my neighborhood in America. Most people spent their time outside, due to the heat, and did pickup games of soccer in the evening. The people were content with what they had, which is very different than America where it seems everyone accumulates so much stuff – and yet is never happy. American’s could learn a lot from spending a few days in a developing country.
I can not even come close to describing this trip in one post. I will share the week’s activities in my next installment, trust me you don’t want to miss that either. Think Shitastrophy – at an epic level.