Dominica’s people

We visited the Carib Territory today in the central and eastern parts of the island. The ancestors of these Kalinago people named the island Wai’toucoubouli (which means “tall is her body”) as they traveled up their sea highway in canoes thousands of years ago settling the islands of the Lesser Antilles. Unfortunately, due to Western expansion and colonization in the days of Columbus, the Kalinagos were reduced to living on Dominica because it was the least inhabitable Caribbean island. The Europeans began calling the natives “Caribs,” a corrupted version of their name, and the clash between the two groups continued for centuries, while simultaneously the Caribs retreated further and further into the interior of the island. Catholic missionaries attempted to ease the tension by forming the Carib territory. However, they neglected to take into consideration the Carib heritage of living off the sea, and to this day the Caribs have restricted access to the ocean.

Our travels for this last day brought us to their lands (see previous post for more details), and as I reflect on my experiences here the last week I am finding that the greatest thing for me here in Dominica is the people. I am by no means cultured, so this is a very new experience, but talking to the locals was fascinating. Everywhere the people are warm and welcoming, proudly saying “Welcome to my beautiful home. Enjoy your stay!” and happily wave as we drive by. The Carib territory is no exception. Even though they have been repressed for a long time, the are just as hospitable as all the rest. Walking around the church and old ruins today I met five girls from the ages of 3 to 15 standing on the steps of building nearby. They boldly said hello and asked me my name, so I went over and began talking to them.


Our conversations lasted only twenty minutes or so, but they impressed me with their intelligence, courtesy and confident, yet humble manner that I don’t think I will ever forget the encounter. They spoke four languages: their native tongue, as well as English, French, and Spanish – three of which I’m positive they could do fluently. Their favorite subject was English, and when asked what they were going to do over their two week break for Easter Holiday, they giggled and said study for exams and play cricket.

I was sad to have to go (we had a tight schedule we had to stick to), but grateful to have had the opportunity to learn something from those with a modest living but incredibly rich minds and culture.