Selected entries from my journal “Here in the Rainforest” continue. . .

Oct.10, 2005

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since the last entry in my journal. So what have I been doing?On the home front, I have built a swimming pool, a proper kennel, a picnic pavilion by the river, and am about half-way finished with a small guest cottage. Concerning the dogs, Tootsie the circus dog was poisoned, Lucy the Rottweiler had another set of puppies and then plunged over a cliff to her death while chasing an Agouti, and I picked up two pathetic mutts, Karma and Wanda, by the roadside. I found a lovely female Doberman to replace Lucy, and a brindle mongrel puppy to almost replace darling Tootsie. Then I was gifted with a male Doberman who attacked me. (I gave him back.)  All toll I have eight dogs and the Doberman is supposed to be pregnant. In regard to transportation, I have sold my horse and my Land Rover. For food, I still have chickens and eggs, a vegetable garden, and plenty of other grub sprouting from the soil and falling from the trees. On the literary front, I have written the first draft of a second novel, some short stories, and am working on a documentation of women living in cross-cultural, bi-racial situations, all of which remain unpublished. In the meantime, my Dominican boyfriend I have split up and then gotten back together. I have done some artwork, restored a few antiques, healed my broken arm, and re-injured my knee.

The cottage at River Ridge

Whew! No wonder I needed a break.Hence, I have just returned from the States where I saw my sons, their women, and my two-year-old grandson, Jake. I also visited with several old friends who are as amazed that I still live in Dominica as I am amazed that they continue to believe in the American dream. Yeah, man. The States was great, but trust me; I couldn’t wait to get home.

Nov. 21, 2005

Having grown up in the precise and often melodramatic world of Accuweather as broadcast on TV, one thing I’ll never get used to in Dominica is the lack of a proper weather report. According to island mentality, it’s a waste of time to try to analyze anything that can’t be controlled by humans, the only exception being two drunks arguing in a rum shop. Beyond the occasional threat of a tropical storm or hurricane, “partly cloudy with scattered showers” is the standard forecast. Technically, I can understand the vagueness. It’s very possible that it could be cool and pouring down rain here in the mountains, yet hot, dry, and sunny on the coast. Without dividing the island into zones (Has no one ever thought of that?), it would be impossible for a meteorologist to compile an accurate forecast for the entire island. Still, I wish there was a bit of advance notice of impending natural disaster so a person could plan ahead.

Today was a perfect example. I had intended to go to town to pick up a set of baby chickens that I ordered from the feed store before the clerk sold them to someone else. But plans are one thing and Dominican weather is something else. Early morning was sunny before sheets of horizontal rain began to fall. By afternoon the dog kennel, hen house, garage and most of the downstairs were flooded.  Just as I finished mopping up, a gust of savage wind whipped down from the mountain and threw down several trees—most spectacularly the avocado tree close to the house, which landed on my jeep, and the cinnamon tree that took out the phone line and blocked the driveway.

Now there was no ride, no road, and no phone. Defeated, I decided to cook some nice, warm, nourishing food while I waited for salvation. But when I ventured into the garden during a temporary lull in the storm, the lime tree and most of the bananas were uprooted, the aubergine was drowned, and cabbage and seasoning pepper plants shredded. I waded back to the house and turned on the radio. “Today will be partly cloudy with scattered showers,” I was cheerfully informed by the weather reporter.

Dec. 17, 2005

But enough of this drippy rainforest! It’s time for a change! That’s the beauty of living on an island like Dominica—no matter how deeply cleaved into the bosom of the interior you are, the sea is never far away. As an early Christmas present to myself, I grabbed my water bottle, a half a dozen oranges, and a piece of fruitcake and headed down south to my former stomping grounds, the gorgeous Soufriere-Scott’s Head Marine Reserve to celebrate.

Though experienced in sailing and canoeing, I first discovered kayaking when I settled on the island ten years ago. For someone born and bred in Ohio, cruising along the surface of the blue Caribbean Sea was a brand new experience. l imagined I was gazing into some alternative  dimension as I stared into the aquamarine depths of the crystal-clear water. As  I studied the endless expanse of the glittering horizon,and felt like I was floating on the seam between planet earth and outer space. I took my legs out of the cockpit, and dangled my toes in the warm, transparent waves. Curious little squid came up to investigate the apparent bait while frigate birds gamboled in the clouds, and flying fish soared all around me, kissing the air. Overcome by a sense of wonder, I stowed my paddle and dipped my hands in the holy water. 

Paddling again, I passed the century-old Catholic church and felt a sense of humbleness—not so much in response to that massive stone building topped with a gleaming cross, but in reaction to the mountain range that presses down on the caldera of the bay like an all-pervading God. Imagine: Hundreds of years before Columbus “discovered” and renamed the indigenous island of Waitukubuli Dominica, Amerindians worshiped the very same volcano while gliding in their canoes. I was lost in a wave of déjà-vu and jolted awake as the kayak drifted up on the beach of “Champagne,” a mystical place where bubbles of sulfuric gas rise from the bottom of the sea. After unloading my snorkeling gear, the oranges, and the fruitcake, I dove recklessly into my next grand adventure.