Over the past week I’ve found myself obsessively reading up on Dominica, an island nation in the Caribbean. I don’t know why, exactly, but I have been fantasizing about visiting or even moving there, and the more I learn the more attractive it seems.


photo by stevenhouse

I’m not alone. Yesterday, USA Today ran a story on Dominica. Coincidence or telepathic conspiracy?

For a small island in the Caribbean, Dominica sure seems to have a lot of web content, which has fueled my curiosity. Here’s what I’ve learned so far, which I’m reproducing to the best of my ability without double-checking.

Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) is the least developed of the Caribbean islands. In fact, it’s called the Nature Island. Since the loss of a preferential trade agreement with the United Kingdom, the banana business has been declining. Now there’s a push to develop their tourist economy while preserving their greatest asset: the pristine natural environment. Thus there’s quite a bit of interest in eco-tourism. One place that caught my attention is 3 Rivers Eco Lodge.

It’s a poor country, with a third of the people living in poverty. But crime is surprisingly low, and people are surprisingly healthy. Dominica has one of the highest percentages of centenarians in the world.

The official language is English, but lots of people speak French creole.

The island has one of the few remaining populations of Carib Indians. However, most Dominicans are descendants of African slaves.

Some of those popular pirate movies with J. Depp were shot there, and also some pirate-themed reality show.

Dominica has some volcanic activity, with one of the world’s largest boiling lakes.

It rains there a lot.

Jean Rhys was born there. She wrote The Wide Sargasso Sea.

The biggest city in Dominica is Roseau, which is nicely written up by some Finnish dude in Naturalistic and existential realms of place in Roseau, Dominica. It vaguely reminds me of some neighborhoods in New Orleans. They even have a French Quarter.

Of course, one of the best ways to get down-to-earth perspective on day-to-day life is through the blogosphere. Here are some Dominica-related blogs:

Now if only I had a couple hundred grand lying around… I know just what to do with it.

It’s tempting to attribute this obsession to the stresses of living in a disaster zone, but the truth is I’ve been fascinated by tropical islands ever since I moved to New Orleans. Perhaps it’s because New Orleans is a Caribbean port city that just happens to be on the mainland. Every few months I get the bug and start researching and that’s how I learned about Dominica. I’m fairly certain that life on a small island would drive me crazy very quickly, but it’s fun to dream, and maybe to visit, and who knows what that could lead to?

  1. I’m pretty sure Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 were filmed there. I only think this because I just watched #2 and in the special features – they talk about it…..

    Most interesting was listening to the director talk about how “untouched” the island was and how important that was.

    Then they used their big machinery to put roads down so the trucks and trailers could navigate the terrain.

    I had a real problem with this.

    Anyway, it was beautiful…. and interesting that you mentioned it.

  2. When presented with the possibility of moving to Manoa, Hawaii, I asked someone who had lived there previously what it was like.

    One told me that when he got back to the “mainland”, he rented a car and drove through the desert, so he could go for a long time in a straight line. He said that where ever you were on the island, you could drive for 2 hours, and be back there. That drove him crazy.

  3. Perhaps it is because you live on a cultural island, and pratically a geographical one. I think the kinship is natural, and perhaps we should look South by South West.for examples of how to to live-+without our rampant crime, for example.

  4. I have this fantasy about living in a small cold, rainy city. It’s very pleasant. I don’t know where it came from. I’ve never seen it in a movie, but some Scandinavian films come close.

  5. I have been obsessive about getting info on moving to the islands lately as well

    …I also live in New Orleans….

    It’s funny that most of the complaints I see from Americans about living conditions in any of the Caribbean islands (not necessarily Dominica, but any Caribbean islands which they perceive to be “3rd world countries”- -don’t care for the term, by the way- – (copious insect life, bad roads filled with potholes, heat, police problems, frequent power surges and outages, political corruption, no garbage pick up, waiting to get anything done, insufficient hospital care, more expensive groceries etc, etc) are no different from living here.

    So those of us used to N.O. would not have much adapting in those regards if we were to make the move to what is otherwise paradise!!

    Take care

  6. I’ve always fancied living on a boat – sailing about little islands. Wind power, tightening the sails, kleeting the ropes, manning the tiller, as the boat keels and smashes through waves – time – and space.

  7. I think you’ve just had some kind of mushroom and your mind is moving low.

    It’s a Netflix conspiracy, subliminal messages in the dvds: “the week approaching 7-7-07 you will be drawn to Dominica.” Turns out you’re not a marketing tool, you’re a pawn being marketed to. Resistance is futile. Move there immediately. How’s my kitty?

  8. Dominica is a truly beautiful island, I was born there so I may be a bit biased :-). I moved back here from UK 2 years ago and really feel I am at last living the kind of life I want to live. It’s a country that really makes you feel alive, the good and the bad of being alive. It’s certainly not an easy island to live on, especially if you have to earn a living here, but it all depends on what your priorities are in life. Certainly worth a visit if you like nature, hiking, diving and outdoor activities

  9. I just read one of the blogs you linked. They speak of building materials disappearing, never being considered a local, getting robbed, etc. Sounds a lot like home.

  10. Funny. I think we’ve been reading the same article. I’ve been saying the same things on my blog (I’ve been looking into Honduras and Belize, also). After Sicko, though, I’m wondering if a move to a place without universal healthcare is really going to help me in my old age. If I move to Canada, the real estate is even higher than here. I don’t know if the difference will be offset by lower healthcare. If only I had a crystal ball and a winning Powerball ticket…

  11. To add to that last post–just pray you don’t get cancer or need heart surgery. In 2005, only 42% got care within one month.

  12. There is no paradise. Just weigh all the factors wherever you decide to visit and/or move. Unfortunately, crime is one factor and frankly alot of people don’t think to check-up on this one. After all its paradise–rainforest, sandy beaches, sunshine, warm tempertaures, etc. No place in the world is crime free but have a heads-up before you visit. Be safe and have a good trip to Dominica. Follow your heart…and head!

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