Ponce and his Wrong Turn

In what has been  almost three months in the West Indies, we have visited 11 diffferent islands[1]. Each has its particular charms to offer, and there are those to which we will return and those where once is enough. Of these, though, none has captivated us in quite the manner as has Dominica. It is green, serene and placid yet filled with wonders. Volcanic black soil beaches are bountiful,  isolated and unsullied, lapped by  cerulean waters.
Fresh water is abundant, which is almost miraculous in the Caribbean.
The air smells of nutmeg. Blooming Birds of Paradise are everywhere, and the parrot, which  appears on the national flag, soars majestically.  There are no mosquitoes to speak of. The island is free of predatory animals including snakes. Waterfalls are everywhere, pouring from the mountains, which are almost always mired in rain clouds while the rest of the island bathes in sun.

Disney chose this island to film many  of the scenes in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, clearly because it offered vistas that even the best CG artists  couldn’t replicate.
Look familiar? Watch Pirates of the Caribbean II
As I write this it is mid February. We arrived at the end of January and each time we think to pull anchor, we awake to the incredible sights and  sounds of this paradise, and ask ourselves, “why?”.  Where could we possibly go next that would present a more glorious setting in which to  experience our retirement? Forgive me, then, if many of the posts to follow are about Dominica.
We hired several  locals on the advice of sailors we met along the way. The first of these, Martin, introduced us to some of the treasures that comprise this magical place.
Martin Carrietere, botanist and guide and now, dear friend

Martin, a native Dominican , obtained a botany degree in Trinidad and returned to his home to become a guide and share his knowledge of  the miraculous curative bounty that is the flora and fauna on this island. As he took us on mountain hikes, he would pull plants and describe for us the manner in which they are used: for healing  wounds, stopping fevers, reducing arthritic conditions, soothing burns, curing migraines and incidentally, providing  longevity.  The longest living human being on record, Dominican Elizabeth “Ma Pampo” Israel, died at 128.  During our stay, we have repeatedly run into people who proudly tell us their age, and we are aghast at their state of preservation and vitality. The lifespan in Dominica is in fact, longer than in the United States, and they have more centenarians than anywhere in the western hemisphere. (see: http://www.avirtualdominica.com/project/dominica-centenarians/) It is clear to us that  Ponce De Leon landed on the wrong shore. His fountain was here, within these shores.  
Atop Red Rocks (800 feet above the bay below)

[1] St Thomas, Tortola, Norman Island, Peter Island, Cooper Island, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Marina Cay, Antigua, Dominica