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Enjoy some pictures of the worldrecordtour, taken in Dominica

 
 
Dominica Map

 

Map of the Caribbean

click a picture to see details

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under a blue sky - having reached Dominica - our LandCruiser
is unloaded by crane
Main Street in the capital Roseau
Thomas Gerber is filming
Liliana shopping at
the market in Roseau
 

Dominica - "The Island of Nature"

"In ten minutes, we shall make an additional stop in the commercial port of Roseau, where we have to unload a vehicle. Thank you for your understanding"! This announcement comes from the loudspeaker of the High-Speed Ferry "MV Incat K3" and makes us shivering, because it is our car, our LandCruiser! The green hills of the "Nature Island of Dominica" are already very close. We can already see the deep gorges and valleys that divide the tropical hills. With great excitement we are looking forward to explore this island, which has been recommended to us warmly and enthusiastically.

 

View from the Aerial Tram in Laudat into
a deep gorge with impenetrable jungle
Giant lady's fern in the
rainforest of Dominica
Gum tree - an impressive
sight in the rainforest
 

Up to now, each single entry to the Anglophone Caribbean Islands was an adventure itself. How will it be here, we ask ourselves. We are always a bit nervous when it comes to customs procedures and the complicated English bureaucracy taken over from the imperial times. But this time, there is one thing more we have to deal with and worry about: The unloading of our LandCruiser by crane. Despite that we experienced it already several times in different places in the world during our 20 years of traveling, each time we worry again for the safety of our "home". Therefore we keep our breath as it flies under an intensively blue sky through the air and reaches the new, 145th land safely - as the first one of us.

 

Silhouette of a Flamboyant
tree in an evening glow
Stop at the untouched beach in
Melville on the Northeast Coast
Colorful fishing boats in Salisbury
 

It is a very special Welcome, which Dominica presents to us: The Mayor of Roseau and the Directors of the Tourism Board and Port Authorities are present together with the press, TV and radio to greet us warmly with wonderful speeches. We are really touched and feel honored! It is the first time ever that we have such a beautiful reception. When the official part is over and we are alone again, the unofficial, more difficult one starts - the customs procedure for the release of our car. During the past months, we have learnt many lessons in "importing" a vehicle. This time we hope that the paper work will be easier; the more that we have been in contact since months with the Ministry of Tourism for facilitating us the car's entry. And before our arrival we phoned nearly every day to make sure that everything was in order and no bad surprises would pop up. And everything seemed to work out, but unfortunately only looked like! Already at the first Customs office, a big lady tells us with a smile that we have to pay an environmental levy of around US$ 1000, because our car is older than 1997 - that's the law! Of course, we are very disappointed and are not willing to pay such high additional fees, because we are leaving again after some weeks. Rather we would skip Dominica - even if it would be with much regret - and return the same evening with the same ferry to Guadeloupe. We have a certain understanding that this rule might apply for imported vehicles to avoid being flooded by old scrap cars, but surely not for a short, temporary stay with a touristy purpose. While we are sitting on a shady place between containers in the port, the Ministry of Tourism does everything possible to find a solution. Sometimes we have hope that it will work out; the next moment we are in doubt and see us already back in Guadeloupe.

 

Trafalgar Falls surrounded
by beautiful rainforest
Breadfruit is still an important
part of the diet in the Caribbean
Liliana admires one of the many
fascinating flowers of the tropics
 

In the meantime, two men from the Quarantine show up and begin to argue that our car is not spotlessly clean, that there is dirt on our tires, which could contaminate their island. We have a certain understanding for that too, but this is our 11th Caribbean country, and up to now nobody bothered about some dust. But here in Dominica, they make obviously a big issue out of it, probably comparable with Australia. The fact, that we have also been in Africa with this car, upsets them even more. We do not really believe that somebody thinks that we still have the same tires as we were there in 1993! Anyway, a short while later, three other men from the Ministry of Health arrive and decide that the tires have to be disinfected. "We have no problems with that", explains Emil. "They did it also in the former British Guyana - even free of charge". The result was - before we even knew if we were able to stay in Dominica or not - a man is working on it -also for free!

 

Palm trees reflecting in the
quiet waters of the river
"Club La Dominique" in Calibishie -
the hotel project of Sandra and Stephen
Also chicken like walking
on a beach at sunset
 

In the meantime, the closure of the harbor is approaching and we still do not know, what the decision will be: in or out? Suddenly, rumors spread that the acting prime minister (the real one being at a Caricom meeting in St. Kitts) waved the environmental fees. Together with Martha from the Ministry of Tourism, who stood always patiently and helpfully at our side, we still manage to finalize the paperwork, even if it is after working hours. For the immigration stamp, she escorts us to the still open airport office. For Thomas Gerber of the Swiss Television, who follows our adventure and lifestyle for a couple of days for a series to be broadcasted in Switzerland during the summer months, it is a lot of action and real life! After all the excitement, we are glad when we finally reach the Hotel Tamarind-Tree, managed by the Swiss Annette and Stephan. The timing is absolutely perfect. When we step through the door, the evening skies gloom in a deep red and the silhouettes of seven pelicans sitting on a tree give the perfect picture. Alone this beautiful view makes us forget the worries of the last hours. And later, when we are sitting at the bar and sipping a "Kubuli" - cold Dominican draft beer, life looks beautiful again. Luckily, we do not have a long way to go home. We are allowed to sleep in our car in the parking lot of the hotel. Also later, when we move up North, we always make a stop at the Tamarind-Tree on our way to the capital Roseau.

 

Thomas Gerber, Emil and
Liliana - a happy Trio
Coast in Calibishie in the Northeast
School children in Salibia in the Carib-Territory pose for a picture
 

Luckily, we did not have to skip Dominica, because this 751-km2 big/small Caribbean island is really like a paradise. Compared with the others, life is much more authentic: Children walk through the narrow and windy streets to school, we see men with machetes on the way to their fields, some people still carry their load on the head, chicken and goats roam the roads - memories of Africa come back. The vegetation is extreme tropically und palm trees are everywhere; the island is very hilly, rugged and wild, untouched and nearly (still) no buildings. 365 rivers rush through deep jungle - for each day of the year one! The locals are very nice, friendly and warm-hearted and their interest in our epic journey is big. Whenever we stop, they are attracted by our LandCruiser and study the names of our visited countries, ask us questions or show us their admiration. We enjoy talking to all those people and their warm and honest "Welcome to Dominica".

 

Picturesque stone
church in Castle Bruce
Curious children spotted us
Emerald Pool - one of the main
attractions of Dominica
 

We have driven the entire roads of the island, and around each corner our admiration for the beauty of this tropical paradise rises. It is difficult to say, what we liked the best. It is beautiful everywhere: On the shores of the calm Caribbean Sea, where the water is often like a mirror and the sunsets are deep red and gorgeous; or on the wild and rugged Atlantic Coast with its tiny beaches of black volcano sand; or in the interior with its abundance of tropical vegetation and exotic, colorful flowers; or passing through the many banana and coconut palm plantations; or admiring virgin rivers and hidden waterfalls like Emerald Pool and Trafalgar Falls. Often, the road climbs straight up the hill on one side and descends straight to the valley on the other side, which always opens beautiful panoramas. Especially interesting is also the territory of the Carib- Indians on the steep Northeast Coast, where still nowadays around 3000 descendents of the first islanders live. In ancient times, the steep coastal terrain and narrow gorges protected them against European intruders. Already on entering the reservation we note that the people are different: Their skin is less dark than that of the African descendents, their faces show Asian influence, they are short and thin. Even their houses seem different - simpler than elsewhere on the island. It is now the second time that we have the chance to meet descendents of the Caribs - the first time was in St. Vincent.

 

View of Roseau from Morne Bruce
A tropical picture-book sight
Scotts Head on the South Coast
 

Our camping spot up North is in Calibishie, at the place of Sandra and Stephen. Our hosts - she is Canadian, he is New Zealander - live together with their two Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs Kariba and Zuma and two cats in an old trailer on a cliff with a superb view, just a few steps from their project, the Hotel Club Dominique. Sadly they had to stop the construction work due to the death of a partner and are looking now for new investors. We may park our "mobile home" in their back yard and use their facilities. Each evenings, we sit together for a couple of beers and enjoy the splendid view and the relaxed atmosphere.

 

Picnic at a beautiful lonely
spot near Pointe Mulâtre
View of the small hamlet
Soufrière from Tête Morne
Lonely coast near Melville
 

There is nothing we did not like in Dominica. The only thing, which at present could be better, is the road along the Western coast. We feel very positively that there are not yet traffic lights, parking meters, barriers and all the other modern traffic stuff. But this might change when the Chinese, who replace the Taiwanese, are starting to build a new road from Roseau to Portsmouth. The Taiwanese have been working for more than 30 years on different projects with much benefit to locals, and now, as we heard, they are replaced by the financially more involved Chinese and have to leave within four days. Not everybody seems to be happy about the decision, as the Chinese are known to import everything - from the construction material to the workers. Thus, apart from the new road, there is not much that the locals can benefit. Politics aside: We like this island, how it is und wish that it will remain so for a long, long time: Untouched, exotic, not overbuild and a little sleepy - just beautiful like a paradise in nature!

 

Traditional house surrounded by lush green
Lonely coast near Thibaud
Emil enjoying his lunch at Thibaud
 

The horizon behind the palm trees changes in a splendid gold and red, as we are leaving on April 25 "The Caribbean Island of Nature" on the huckster boat "MV Pride la Dominique" from Portsmouth. Between banana boxes and vegetables, we are sailing towards the next destination - St. Kitts & Nevis, called "the best place in the world". We already know it: Should we come back to any of the Caribbean Islands, it will be Dominica. The desire to return has already taken possession of us.

 

Cow watching the schooners
in Portsmouth
The skies turn into gold and red
on our departure from Dominica
On the Banana-Boat "M.V. Pride
la Dominique" to St. Kitts
 
Articles in newspapers about us in Dominica:
Press Release: "Swiss Record-Breaking Car Driver to visit Dominica", March 23, 2004
Article: "Guinness record holders visit Dominica", April 2, 2004
Article: "AT&T answered NDC call", April 16, 2004
Article: "Dominica Rated # 1", May 5, 2004