In 2009 Dan visited the Commonwealth of Dominica on business and I created an online journal so our family could read about our visit. Dominica so enchanted us that we resolved to do everything in our power to travel as often as possible from then on. Eventually my online travel journal morphed into the website you're reading now, As We Saw It. This is the second of my original posts.
We arrived in Dominica a few days before Dan's meetings in Roseau (the capital) because we wanted to see as much of the country as we could while we were there. Dragging our bags along the sidewalk at the airport, we shook our heads to all the drivers who hoped we'd take their taxis. No thanks, we told them, we had already rented a car.
There was no car rental office, just a desk that was little more than a podium … and no one to be seen. Anywhere. After 15 minutes of waiting we finally went to look for assistance. Eventually someone in the airport office found someone to help us, someone who was surprised that somebody actually needed a car today.
Aha. That explained it.
After we loaded our bags he bid us goodbye, reminding us to drive on the left-hand side of the road. That's a souvenir of the years Dominica was a British territory. Our first destination: Calibishie, conveniently only a few miles up the coast from the airport.
Calibishie is both a town and a region. It is probably the most scenic and unspoiled part of Dominica, with fishing villages, rugged mountains and secluded, sandy beaches. In the far northeast corner of the island, it is the perfect base to explore the country's Atlantic coast and visit the Carib Indian territory. You can't honestly say you've seen the country until you've been to this corner of the island.
Although we needed a bit of down time before the meetings we also wanted to see as much as we could, especially the Carib territory and some of the Pirates of the Caribbean film locations. Fortunately, our hotel's proprietor, Chris, knew where everything was.
The last of the fierce Carib headhunters were exiled to a small area midway along Dominica's Atlantic coast. No longer to be feared, they now earn much of their livelihood through tourism. We couldn't fit a full tour into our schedule and budget, but we did make sure to at least drive down into the Carib Indian territory.
A handful of Carib still can carve traditional canoes, and we were thrilled when we found one drying along the side of the road.
When our stomachs started complaining we began to look for a place to eat. We finally found a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant along the road and it was fun to see everyone's reactions when we walked in. They were really surprised to see white Americans show up and just happily order and eat whatever they had on the menu.
Local restaurants often fix two dishes for the day. Our choices were either chicken and rice or fish and boiled potatoes, pretty standard fare throughout all the Caribbean islands. We were curious to see how they were seasoned so as usual, Dan ordered one and I ordered the other so we each could try both dishes. They were flavorful but, sadly, not remarkable enough to ask for the recipes … or even to photograph.
Now this was what our movie buff son was most looking forward to: seeing one of the locations where a scene in Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. Of course all the locals knew which beach we were talking about. We were sent us on our way with vague directions that consisted of phrases such as, “Turn when you get to the post at the top of such-and-such hill.” That's the best he could do, as there were no road signs!
We were shocked when we actually found the turnoff on our first try. After driving along rutted tracks – only the most delusional could call it a road – we ended up at the striking, black sand beach that they had used in one of the Pirates movies. Our son had something to remember and brag about back home, and we got some wonderful shots. It was absolutely worth the effort.
Where we stayed: Calibishie Lodges
If you stay in Dominica you really should take a break from diving and see the country as well. Our hotel had won the island's Hotel of the Year award for a reason. Some of the lead actors had stayed in there as well, which just proves that Calibishie Lodges is one of the best hotels in the area.
My impression from the photos was that it was a tad rustic and had a small pool. Worse yet, I was dreading that our rooms had no a/c. What a surprise that we didn't need it. And truly, I prefer to float around in the pool and cool off, not swim laps, so it was fine, especially since it had lounge chairs for Dan's sunning, and a spot of shade for me to nap in.
Calibishie Lodges isn't a large establishment, and Chris really made us feel special. Every morning we had fresh fruit juice – starfruit was my favorite – and our choice of breakfasts: European, American or local-style Caribbean. Of course I tried the Caribbean plate one morning, which was salted codfish and scrambled eggs, with salad. Mmph … I guess it's an acquired taste.
The coffee, on the other hand, was delicious and we enjoyed every drop. It was full-bodied and flavorful, not like that wishy-washy grocery store stuff from the U.S. It is grown on the island. I wish it were easy to find Bello products in America, especially their coffee and hot sauces.
If we wanted to, they would prepare dinner for us at the hotel. All they requested was that we would tell them ahead of time so the cook would be waiting for us when we returned in the evening. There was nothing we could ask for that would not be provided if it was in their power. Five-star treatment in a corner of a quiet island. I could get used to being pampered like that!
Search Booking.com for your ideal Calibishie hotel.