23 January 2015
 Roseau, Dominica: A Hot Spot in a Hot Place

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant

We are arrived in Dominica, a place whose name often gets confused with the much larger country of the Dominican Republic which occupies about half of the island of Hispaniola near Jamaica and Cuba.

Roseau Dominica 23Jan2015-9448

Silver Cloud  at the dock in Roseau, Dominica

Dominica got its name from the Latin/Spanish words for Sunday (Dominica) or the Italian equivalent (Domenica).

Here in the Caribbean, it is pronounced DOH-men-EEKA, in a not-often-successful attempt to distinguish the place from the much larger and unrelated Dominican Republic.

DOMINICA (c) Sandler-3

Roseau Dominica 23Jan2015-9432

At the market in Roseau, a small port town that retains much of the flavor of the Caribbean before many islands were invaded by massive cruise ships and relentless armies of tourists.  We are the only ship in port today. 

The bestower of the name was Christopher Columbus, who must have been running out of saints on November 3, 1493; he named the island after the day of the week on which he spotted it, Sunday.

Dominica sits midway along the Eastern Caribbean archipelago, just a few miles from the French islands of Martinique to the south and Guadeloupe to the north.

DOMINICA (c) Sandler-2

The island was not considered a high priority for the Europeans and they mostly left it alone in the first century of colonization.

The Arawaks and the Kalinago/Carib tribes were already hiding when European settlers got around to paying attention to Dominica. They did not fully escape; there is a waterway on Dominica called the Massacre River. It is said the river ran red with blood for days after incursions by French and British settlers.

Nevertheless, Dominica has one of the few remaining groups of Carib or Kalinago people. About three thousand self-identified Caribs live on Dominica; some have intermarried with other races or cultural groups.

Today the descendants of the Caribs have a six-square mile (15-square-kilometer) territory on the east coast of the island.

The island is perhaps the youngest of the Lesser Antilles; it is still being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity. If you’re truly interested in things like that, on Dominica you can visit the world’s second-largest boiling lake, about 7 miles or 11 kilometers east of Roseau.

What we have is a flooded fumarole, an opening in a planet’s crust usually found near volcanoes, which emits steam and carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen sulfide and other gases. Superheated water turns to steam as it emerges from the ground and its pressure suddenly drops.

On Domenica, Boiling Lake is about 200 feet or 60 meters across; it is filled with bubbling greyish-blue water that is usually enveloped in a cloud of vapor.

DOMINICA (c) Sandler-1

All photos copyright by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution copy of any image please contact me.