Dominica Island: Living like a local in Giraudel Village, the Flower Town.
January 1, 1970
by Daniela Valera Ramírez
I have always dreamed of finding the ultimate natural place to live in, a place where I could be surrounded by trees and flowers and where the sun shone all the time. It seemed just a dream, but in 2008 I met the person who is now my husband and then he invited me to visit his homeland Dominica … I was planning to stay only three months , and now I have more than eight years living in the place of my dreams.
OK, I went a little too poetic at the end, but this island REALLY is my dreamland!
So, where is Dominica Island?
Dominica … Dominica … You might be wondering in which part of the world this country is located… I did, too.
Before I met my husband (who is a local singer and farmer here), I had no idea of the existence of this place. I have never heard of this hidden paradise with so much rich cultural history and traditions to share and learn from.
People get confused all the time between Dominica and the Dominican Republic, but they are actually quite different … Some of the differences that I think are more obvious are that Dominica is a smaller island compared to the Dominican Republic and that people here don´t speak Spanish, but they speak English and Creole (a mix between English, French, German and African). Also, the Dominican Republic is more advanced than Dominica in terms of infrastructure and entertainment facilities like malls, movie teathers, parks and so on.
Although Dominica is located in the Caribbean and it is a part of the Windward Islands, it is unique and stands out from its neighbor islands: It is much more quiet and peaceful (everything closes at 8 P.M. sharp), there are not luxury re-known hotels like the Hilton or the Eurobuilding, but instead there are small 5 stars hotels and villages that have nothing to envy from them, the air is fresher, and it is like you went 10 years back in time in comparison with other islands like Guadalupe, Barbados or Trinidad.
Dominica is considered the “natural island of the Caribbean,” and for a good reason: the land is full of green spaces to visit, you can still find spring water streams, the wildlife is very diverse, the sun shines most of the time, there are original black sand beaches, magnificent waterfalls, more than 360 rivers and it even has active volcanoes!
The island also offers one of the best diving places in the world! Diving in the coral reefs of Dominica is a one in a lifetime experience you cannot miss. There is a mystical connection between the landscape above the island and the one below the water. Divers can see the continuation from the mountains to the underwater cliffs … It is just magical!
If you are a lover of fish, sea creatures and sailing; whale and dolphin watching are there for you, and turtle watching too!
I could keep telling you about all the great activities you can do here on the island for hours, but for now I am going to focus in Giraudel village, where I have been living in for eight years.
Living natural in Giraudel.
Being a city girl (born in Venezuela capital city, Caracas) it has been quite a change for me to live in this relaxed, amazing island. I went from living in an enclosed house to a spacious farm surrounded by nature and from waiting hours in traffic to enjoy the fast and peaceful bus rides in Dominica, and I love it!
I live in the so-called “flower village” of Giraudel, which gained its reputation because of its inmense variety of exotic flowers that grow all over the streets and around the houses as a result of the frequent rains and the fertile soil of the rainforest.
This village is surrounded by mountains so the weather is very cool, almost cold sometimes and it rains often. The view from these hills is a million dollar one! Being able to watch the sun setting on the beach every day is one of the things I love of living up here in this exotic town.
Giraudel is about 20 minutes in a bus from the capital city of Roseau. The roads are curved and narrow (one thing I believe they should improve on), so it takes a little time to get used to, but it is all worthy to reach up and see the sun shining through the huge trees that welcome everybody.
Another thing that I really like about Giraudel is that it is a very colorful and bright town. The villagers used to build their houses with wood and even
today there are still wooden houses painted in green, orange, pink and all kinds of vivid shades of colors you can imagine.
A big part of the villagers also plant their vegetables and fruits for them to eat and also to sell to the supermarkets, so you can still find fresh mostly organic foods even in there. The elders of the village have done a great job passing the example of farming to the newer generations which also raise chickens, rabbits, cows and goats, and have a very natural way of living in general.
This “natural” way of living has given longevity to many of the citizens here, some of them reaching to the age of 110 years old! I have seen some elders around the age of 80 that work as farmers during the day and then go for a drink in the night!
Local Celebrations and Events
This is one of the tallest mountains in Dominica with almost 4000 feet high. It is a difficutl hike but it is worth the try with a certified guide. The road to get to the top is full with orchid fields and once you reach you will get one of the most spectacular view of the island!
Every year there is a national festival celebrating the floriculture industry and highlighting the art of large-
scale cut flower arrangement, called “the Flower Show”. There are around 94 types of flowers here in this place. It is always crowded with people from all over the island and I personally enjoy the smell of all the beautiful flowers and also the smell of the delicious local food the local people cook for this traditional events. If you ever comer to Dominica, having a taste of the stuffed bakes is a must!
They also celebrate here, which is an event where they remember and honor their history.
Another touristic attraction in Giraudel is the Waitu Kubuki National Trail, which is a long and elaborated trail made for
mountain hiking enthusiasts who want to get a different perspective of Dominica.
The trail passes through the island from beginning to end, giving the hiker a chance to enjoy and experience the breathtaking views from the mountain top, get to know a little more of the culture and history of the island and taste the delicious local food and drinks (you have to try the waitu kubuli beer!) and if you get lucky you can see the famous Dominican rainbows (I have actually seen more than 100 of them and counting!)
I really like it here. I believe everybody with a love for nature and Eco tourism will enjoy a visit to Dominica.