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I'm sitting on the porch overlooking a tropical garden, the hammock hung from the breadfruit trees, the garden gate opening directly onto the beach, reggae music drifting, washing blowing on the line.  Far away.  Far away from Glastonbury, far away from like-minded souls.  In the Caribbean - on the island of Dominica, between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the West Indies.

Wait'ti Kubuli is it's original name, the name given to it by the Caribs who were here before Columbus, before the present population descendants of slaves brought here to tend the sugar cane plantations.  Before the Caribs were the Arawak Indians, who, like the Caribs, are believed to have made their way here from the Orinoco River in South America in some distant past.   The Caribs, however,with their light bronze skin, straight black hair and flat faces far more resemble a Malaysian type.  The story goes that the Caribs overcame and butchered the peaceful Arawak.  Now they live peacefully in their own Carib Territory, 3,782 acres of beach, forest and mountain on the east side of the island.  Whatever it was that these early inhabitants knew and understood about the sacred nature of this island is not common knowledge today.  I am still waiting to see the Carib chief and fire him with questions.  One myth that I do know of from the Carib Indians is about the 'snake's staircase' known as L'escalier Tete du Chien.  This geological formation resembles a gigantic petrified serpent with a dog shaped head that scales the hillside from the ocean where it apparently extends some way under the water. They say Great Spirit created the serpent to watch over the people.

In the meantime, as I said, I sit in this garden and try to feel for myself what is happening here.  My sense that this is sacred territory emanates from the power and beauty of the landscape and is emphasized in the name Wai'ti Kubuli which translates as 'How tall is her body'.  This is a body of land, lapped by the gentle waters of the Caribbean on the east coast and the strong movements of the Atlantic to the West.  It's interior is a mountainous landscape, a volcanic chain with peaks of over 4000 feet forming part of the Caribbean Ring of Fire.  There are 365 rivers, a Boiling Lake approached through The Valley of Desolation, sulphur springs, fumaroles, tumbling waterfalls,volcanic craters and five different types of verdant forest.  The topography is also characterized by a large number of ridges and deep, narrow river valleys.  There are sunken volcanoes and steep drop-offs under the sea, as well as active hot springs along the sea shore in a place named Champagne Beach.  There you can swim amongst the warm bubbles floating to the surface.  In the valley behind Soufriere you can watch the bubbling mud as sulphur gasses escape from the volcanic interior.  There is little industry or development and the total population of this island of 29 miles long by 16 miles wide is 71,000 comprising principally Afro-West Indian and about 3,000 Carib Indians.



 

 

 


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