Jul 172012

Landed in Dominica, and that’s where the drama started. Immigration was a snap, and soon found the small shack/hut that housed the rental car companies. Went over to the Avis “desk” (which, seriously, is an overstatement. It’s a small wooden podium, with a rather nice, but disinterested man who may or may not be behind it.) Nope, no reservation. Showed it to him. “Oh, how interesting. Can’t help you.” He had no car, and while he could get me one from another agency, no matching the rate, etc etc. Chatted with the (much more) helpful lady from the other agency, and she told me for what I was doing in Dominica, I would be much better with her “friend’s” taxi. He would take me round-trip to my resort, and make sure things were happy….all for the same price as my rental car. Since I only planned to hike and chill here, I went with it.

I’d chosen to stay at the Hotel Beau Rive – and in summary – it was an awesome choice.  I normally prefer locations much more in the middle of it all.  Places to go out to eat, walking distance to cool things to see, etc etc.  You get the idea.  Beau Rive?  Well, it was absolutely none of this.  What it was, however, was set in the middle of Dominica’s awesome natural beauty with the most amazing hosts and staff you could ask for.  This is all made very clear on their website, online reviews, etc.  If you’re not ready for an “at home” atmosphere, pets on premesis who are quite friendly, and a home away from home…this isn’t the place for you.  Yet, despite being from from my normal “style” I absolutely loved it here.  I’ll go into more details, but the pics will do much more talking here.

My taxi driver was awesome….on the approximately one hour drive to Beau Rive he told me all about his island, the people, the locations…it was like a mini guided tour.  Plus, the roads were seriously harpin and pretty tricky.  Much less stressful not to drive on them!  Got to the hotel, checked in (I was one of two rooms occupied!) and immediately took this awesome shot from my room’s balcony:

Another shot from the hotel’s veranda:

One more from my room for good measure!

There was (obviously) little going on at the hotel, and I was feeling a bit pent-up after a long day of travel, so I decided to go for a run/hike  Mind you, it was approximately 36C with 90% humidity, so this wasn’t going to be all fun and games.  I’d seen a sign for a trail about a half mile up the road, so got ready and headed out with no plan…and no water, so I knew it wouldn’t be very long.  Wasn’t out for more than five minutes on my run before I ran into this friendly guy:

Couple of minutes later it was onto the trail and into the woods.  This trail crosses Dominica from side to side and is intended to be hiked in multiple days.  I was just planning to run it for 10-20 minutes.

I mentioned above that the hotel makes well-known that if you’re not pet-friendly it’s not the place for you.  There are (I think) three very friendly dogs, and two suspicious cats.  When I headed out to run, the dogs would have none of the word no, and insisted in coming with.  I tried to send them back, but to no avail.  It was kind of nice, I have to admit, to have some running partners in the brush:

About 10 minutes into the trail, we were rewarded with an awesome view:

Turned around at this point and headed back.  I wasn’t sure how much the dogs were up for without water, so wanted to at least pass back by the hotel and give them a chance to stop.  They were having none of it, and we continued down the road in the other direction:

Back to the hotel after around 40 minutes / 3 miles, and the owner was there and we had a good chat about travel, life in Dominica, etc.  Seems he came to Dominica since it was one of the few “real” places left in the Caribbean, and decided to stay and open this place.  I have to say, he made an awesome choice…it’s a great property with great staff in an awesome and beautiful location.  Chilled out a bit before dinner, which was offered on the hotel’s veranda and was absolutely awesome outside under the stars.  While having dinner, and awesome sunset view from the table:

Got up the next morning, and turned out the other couple staying also didn’t have a car.  So, the owner offered to drive us about 20 minutes to the start of a hiking trailhead that would last about 1:20 and take us to some great views.  Wow, talk about an amazing place!  Rode in the back of the pick-up by choice (awesome) and soon we were ready to hike.  Chatted on and off with the other couple, and here’s the head of the trail, about 250 meters or so through a very small village.

Now, later, we learned we’d taken a wrong turn onto the “national trail” at this point (hey, it was well-marked and seemed the obvious choice) instead of a hike up and down roads through villages etc.  We def one on the view, but it took much longer than planned and the owner didn’t know where to pick us up.  But, in the end everything worked out fine and the hike was AWESOME!  Nearing the top of the trail hill:

View from the top out over Dominica.  Absolutely stunning!

Pic of me at the top…the reward for having really fun hiking partners!

At the bottom of the trail (where we lost it for about 15 minutes and had to backtrack) we went along a really nice river until the end.

After 30 minutes at the end of the formal trail (where it crossed a road) we got nervous.  Where was the owner?  Had we made a wrong turn?  I e-mailed the hotel, etc.  Nothing.  Finally nearly an hour later, he found us.  We learnt we’d made the mistake on which way to go…but in the end it was great.  Got to burn rubber in the back of the pickup back to the hotel, where the taxi driver was already waiting and I grabbed a very quick shower, checked out, and was on my way.

Taxi driver?  Oh, turned out to be the lady from the rental counter in one of her rental vehicles!  Guess that’s how things work on small islands.  She was wonderful, really chatty, and told me a ton about life there.  I feel like I got a free tour for the price of a rental, and would highly recommend Courtesy Rental Cars in Dominica if you go….Avis wasn’t up to the task, and these folks were absolutely phenomenal!

Checked in, and everything was in order except….”oh, your flight will be delayed.  Maybe two hours.  Maybe four.  Delayed”  Any attempt to solicit more information than that at check-in was futile.  I’d finally encountered the LIAT I’d heard about.  Never mind…I had few plans if any in Antigua so retired to the air-conditioned airport cafe for a delicious roti and a beer to recover from the hike, and wait.  Every 30 minutes I headed back to check-in to check what was up, and never any news.  Eventually, after just under two hours, they said “oh, yes, we have asked a plane flying from St Lucia to Antigua to stop and pick you up, it will be here soon, please go to security.”

Hah, so that’s how things work…and work they did.  We got out just before an ominous thunderstorm.  Plan was:

LIAT flight 364
Dominica (DOM) to Antigua (ANU)
Depart: 14:40, Arrive 15:20, Flight time 40 minutes
Dash-8, Registration ???
Seat ???


LIAT flight 754
St Lucia (SLU) to Antinua (ANU) picking us up with an unexpected stop in Dominica (DOM)
Departed: Approximately 16:30, Arrived Approximately 17:00
Dash-8, Registration V2-LFV, Manufactured 1991
Seat 1E

Boarded a plane that was already 60% full, and they surprisingly looked only mildly annoyed at the unexpected stop.  Seemed they’d been told right before takeoff, so I guess the frustration had some time to cool down.  Walking to the plane the clouds were ominous, and I especially enjoyed the large Chinese flag flying over the airport.

Landed and did immigration with no trouble, and arranging a driver to my hotel was also no trouble.  Taxis here are arranged by a central dispatch who writes the price on a receipt, so no chance of scamming/etc.  Soon, it was off to the hotel!

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