We Bought Our First House - Migrating to The Nature Isle of the Caribbean
Posted Jun 06 2014 10:07pm
Yes, you read it correctly. We are moving – again! Originally from a small town in Northern Ontario, Canada, I started my journey and moved to Venezuela. Then my husband Stephan and I came to Trinidad and Tobago. We added our little Skyla to our ship, and now we are off to The Nature Isle of the Caribbean, known as Dominica! (Not the Dominican Republic…the Commonwealth of Dominica, which is in the heart of the Caribbean.)
We are so excited to announce that Beyond Vitality Nature Retreat is in the making. We bought our first house! A traditional cob house. Cob is arguably the most environmentally-friendly, natural, non-toxic building material there is. Our peaceful property, which is on top a mountain with cool elevations and sea views, is surrounded by virgin rainforest, a botanical garden and landscaped lawns with flowers. It has a small cottage, and we will eventually be building more to transform it into our retreat.
These structures are on a beautiful 6 acres of land filled with all kinds of organic fruit trees - cocoa, breadfruit, banana, plaintain, calabash, grapefruit, papaya, lemon, avocado, mango, coconut, noni, pineapple, vanilla and apricot just to name a few! And a perfect area for a vegetable and herb garden.
To add, we have a small river that bounds with the land and a little waterfall and natural pool - perfect for cooling off! The house water comes from an unlimited fresh water spring, and electricity is generated by sustainable solar power. Plus the house has an open air spring water shower to clean and purify ourselves every day!
Now all we need are a few chickens, a permaculture course and our first guests! :) We have our homestead ready to go. And if we're in need of more adventure, nearby is the beautiful Castle Bruce Beach and huge river, Spanny's Waterfall , Rainforest Mushrooms Organic Farm , the famous Jacko Falls and Emerald Pool , Kalinago Territory (indigenous people of Dominica), Morne Trois Pitons National Park , Sultan Falls, and segment 5 of The Waitukubuli National Trail .
We are looking forward to building a little holistic health and sustainable living community. And we can’t forget the kids! We want to include lots of child friendly activities as we have a little jungle princess that will be roaming around the grounds taking care of the chickens, picking mangos and swimming in the river. She will have so much fun!
We fell in love with Dominica when we visited. It’s the perfect mix of eco tourism, nature, wellness, culture and friendly people. Of course, we will miss all our family and friends in Trinidad (+OAW running club, pool-barbeque family limes, Skyla's playgroup, Knightsbridge community, San Antonio Green Market farmers, and everyone who has made it so welcoming for us), but we are focusing on the positives and know that this opportunity will be for our young growing family’s best interest. We are ready to move forward and start our new adventure with an open mind. We are ready to tackle any challenges that come our way and are moving one step closer to achieveing our dreams, and even greater happiness.
We are presently working on Beyond Vitality’s new website, where all the retreat information will be found. You will be kept updated on these exciting changes and growth!
About The Nature Island of Dominica
Courtesy Discover Dominica Authority
Uniquely Natural. Naturally Unique. A rich tapestry of lush rainforests, rivers and waterfalls, with volcanic wonders on land and under the sea. The people of Dominica welcome you to share the beauty and tranquility of “Nature’s Island.” To discover the rich culture of the people. An enriching eco tourism experience. The physical challenge of extreme adventure. Or the serenity of a secluded spa retreat. When you discover Dominica, you discover yourself – and a Caribbean experience like no other.
Where is Dominica?
Dominica’s location is 15 degrees North latitude and 61 degrees West longitude. The island sits midway along the Eastern Caribbean archipelago, just a few miles from Martinique to the south and Guadeloupe to the north. Its official name is the Commonwealth of Dominica, which is mostly referenced in official communiqués and to distinguish the island from its northerly Caribbean sister, the Dominican Republic.
Known as “The Nature Island,” Dominica’s tropical rainforests cover two thirds of the island, and are home to 1,200 plant species. Rivers, lakes, streams, and waterfalls abound, fed by the island’s high annual rainfall. Its volcanic physique points to extensive geothermal activity – even underwater. The Morne Trois Pitons National Park was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Caribbean.
The island is sparsely populated with 70,000 people inhabiting its 289 square miles. A significant portion of the population lives in and around the capital city of Roseau. About 80% of the population is Roman Catholic. English is the official language, spoken with a melodic French lilt, but a large portion of the population speaks Kwèyòl (Creole), and a few northern villages speak Kokoy.
The history of Dominica
Geologically speaking, Dominica is one of the youngest islands in the Caribbean chain. It is a spry 26 million years old, still actively evolving with continuous geothermal activity.
Dominica’s first inhabitants, the Ortoroids, arrived from South America around 3100 B.C., and lasted on the island until around 400 B.C. Next came the Arawaks, who settled in about 400 A.D. By 1400, the Kalinago or “Caribs,” moved aggressively up the Caribbean from South America, eliminating the Arawak from the region, including Dominica. When Columbus ushered in the era of colonization to Dominica in 1493, the same fate that befell the Arawaks would threaten the Caribs.
Ignoring the Kalinago name of “Waitukubuli,” Columbus renamed the island Dominica as he first made landfall on a Sunday. The Caribs successfully resisted efforts of Spanish colonization, but the British and French followed from the 1600s on, battling each other, and the Caribs, to claim the Island. Through the many battles and ravaged by disease, the Caribs gradually lost control of the island, fleeing back to South America. However, today approximately 2,000 Caribs remain on the island, most living in the Carib Territory in northeast Dominica. You many note that many of village names in and around Dominica are a mix of Carib, French and English, reflecting the power struggles of the last 500 years.
On November 3rd 1978, the island was finally granted its independence from Britain. The new era of freedom and independence brought increased challenges, and economic and political struggles. By the mid-1980s though, Dominica had settled down as a stable and peaceful country. The success of the banana trade, the island’s major export, brought economic buoyancy to the island. By 1992 however, Dominica saw sharp declines in banana exports with the loss of its preferential access on the UK market.
Today, the Government of Dominica is investing heavily in tourism to drive economic development, focusing on the island’s unsurpassed natural beauty, and the popularity of diving, hiking and eco tours.
People + Culture
Dominica is a vibrant tapestry of European and African cultures, with the Caribbean’s only remaining population of pre-Columbian Carib Indians. Properly known as the Kalinago, Dominica’s indigenous people inhabit a 3,700 acres territory or reserve on the eastern coast of the island. Migrating in waves from South America from as early as the 3,000BC, various tribes made Dominica their home and by 1,000AD were well settled, calling the island “Wai’tukubuli” meaning ‘Tall is her body’ in the Kalinago language.
Despite fiercely resisting European colonisation for centuries, the Kalinagos eventually succumbed to the disease, greed, and tyranny unleashed by the Spanish, English and French colonising forces. Their grip on the island slowly slipped away with each major European offensive. In 1903, the British Administrator of the time, Heskith Bell, agreed to allocate 3,700 acres to the Caribs, and also officially recognized the Carib Chief with ceremonial adornments and a financial allowance.
Today, approximately 2,200 Caribs inhabit this enclave now known as the Carib Territory. Potential visitors should shred any delusion of finding a primitive people in grass skirts practicing primordial rituals. There is little to differentiate them for the rest of the population. However it is still possible to acquire a glimpse of their ancestral roots, especially from their craft, canoe building and physical attributes. Certainly, it is common to find outhouses in original tribal design teeming with traditional culinary activity.