Even though it’s only been six weeks since I left Dominica, it is so good to be back. Dominica feels like a second home. Flying in was like looking down at a jungle paradise. The small airport is like stepping back in time several decades when I was a young stewardess going to some of my first Caribbean islands. To me, every island in the Caribbean has its own unique charms and experiences. For those who love lush terrain, adventure activities, farm to table food, and great hospitality, Dominica is all that and more.
The first day we walked a short distance to the town of Soufriere and then took a trail that went straight up a mountain to another village called Galion. Being an Indiana “Hoosier” where flatland is the norm, I decided to embrace the “uphill” challenges this week. What a lovely hike on a beautiful day. It was a special treat to have the owner of Jungle Bay Resort lead our hike. The resort is the vision of Dominican entrepreneur and sustainable development expert, Sam Raphael, who was inspired to adopt a life philosophy of environmental conservation and community development after a fifth-grade school trip to Sinnamon Bay in St. Croix. (See the villas in the picture below on the hilltop off in the distance where we were hiking.)
This week includes both hiking and water activities. Kayaking took our small group of women along the shore yesterday before finding a cove to snorkel. One gal said it was better than Hawaii. I just know there is nothing like the sensation of floating and experiencing an entire new world just below us. I can’t wait to scuba dive again at the end of the week as Dominica is known to be the top 10 dive sites in the world. Like the movie, Aladdin, “It’s a whole new world….”
Today is International Women’s Day so Helen Reddy’s song, “I am woman” was sung in the car after a day of hiking up to a view overlooking the capital of Roseau, visiting Trafalgar Falls, and then swimming into a gorge that felt like we were Indiana Janes in a movie. Lots of laughing, hooting, and some local rum shots were included! The gorge was actually a scene in the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean Part 2.
Every day in the early evening, we head to our own private beautiful yoga studio for an hour of practice. This week our intention for each class has been one of the seven chakras. It has been so rewarding to see these ladies have an inward journey on the mat near sunset, as well as an exhilarating journey off the mat each day.
As you can see below, yoga was not just practiced on a mat and in the studio.
Even though more adventures lie ahead, including hiking inland through the rainforest along with exploring another snorkeling area, one of the highlights for me is yet to come. The goal on my last trip in late January was to discuss with some local women the needs for girls on the island. Peace through Yoga Foundation wants to continue to expand its Girls for Success program, which has included a school we have sponsored in Costa Rica since 2005.
It was so exciting to have met three extraordinary women who have started a Girlhood Lounge where teenage girls can come. When asked what they needed, it was unanimously agreed upon that a library would be the best thing we could provide. I am so grateful to say that once the word got out, people have given beyond our expectations. Through the help of a great friend, Ceci Martinez, a huge thanks also goes to Half Price Books and Zionsville Public Library for giving boxes of books for teenagers. We were able to deliver 387 books in suitcases along with beautiful wooden signs made by my brother-in-law, Ron Wright. The library is dedicated in loving memory of a great friend and adventurer, Jean Deeds. Jean inspired and changed hundreds of lives throughout her life.
Everyone in the group as well as all the staff at Jungle Bay are excited about this upcoming Friday night when all 25 teenage girls will come for an evening of empowerment that will include small group breakouts, yoga, dancing, singing (“I am woman”, of course) and a pizza party. What a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day in Dominica.