Three flights, two “random” security checks, and a long bus ride later and we’re here. At 2 PM Wednesday (5/20) we landed in St. Maarten, beginning our journey in the islands.
Four of us ran through the airport, almost missed our flight, and met up with our fifth teammate minutes before departure. He had a different route, while us four had been together all day. Our stewardess welcomed us by seating us all for even weight distribution. If she hadn’t, our small plane would have been unbalanced in one direction. I could hear Harrison Ford saying, “It’s an island, babe.”
On the approach to Dominica, we learned why it’s called the “Nature Island of the Caribbean”. Our descent had us parallel to mountains of lush forest with coconut trees peeking through like needles. Every so often we would see small farms and waves breaking over the rocks. We had no idea what was in store for us next.
After customs, Eardly introduced himself to us. He will be our liason for the time we are here, he also works for the National Youth Council. He’s been welcoming, friendly and relatable – he’s 30 and down to earth. We quickly got to know each other over an hour and a half ride through the windy forest.
As we drove from the North to the South end of the island we jerked from side-to-side. A left turn up the mountain would quickly become a u-turn right back down. We were journeying into the “heart” of Dominica with a blanket of forestry above us and small roads hugging us tight.
Traditional locals on our left were digging out canoes. Schoolchildren on our right were running up the hill in uniform. Quickly our surroundings changed as we entered and left each “community” for a completely unique one.
An hour in we started going downhill. The weather began to warm up as we got out of the forest, and time began to slow down. After all the preparations, and all the hectic traveling, I finally felt like it didn’t matter what time it was. The feeling has lasted since that moment.
I’m typing this in our small, but comfortable home. Our host, Shirley, has been very gracious to us. We live on the top floor of her home, while her older daughters live downstairs. The view of the water and hills is breathtaking.
It’s hard to find time to write here and in my journal. Our days have been starting early, filled with meetings, and ending with us out of steam. It’s been a two-day, overwhelming, Dominica crash course. But it has been two of the most interesting days of my life.
Three of us are now working on coconut cheese this summer, it’s like fudge. The two others are focusing on the oil. We had our first meeting with the producers of it today, and everyone seems on board.
But, that story is for another blog post.