|Surrounded by a thickset forest that surely mimics the Garden of Eden, with a river that literally, "runs through it", owners Richard and Iris have, for five years, shared their passions for people, friendship and adventure with their guests. With six individually decorated rooms, each as unique as the original artwork gracing their walls (did I mention they have an art gallery onsite?) there is plenty of space for any traveller, young or old, family or single folk, seeking an oasis of calm amongst nature-defined. Finding the cottages, like most tourist stops in Dominica, requires a bit of driving expertise – not for the faint of heart. You will take the main route from Roseau through the winding, narrow roads into the village of Trafalgar. Upon arrival, you may be greeted by Iris, the proprietress whose warmth and graciousness follows her every move. She may offer you fresh-squeezed passion fruit juice or the native beer Kubuli and seat you at the colourful and inviting al fresco dining area. Minute details abound, from the locally-made bamboo cutlery holders to the freshly-picked flowers in the rooms to the colourfully-dyed burlap covering the sloping ceilings. You could spend hours exploring this little piece of paradise, examining all the knick-knacks and curio pieces collected or made by hand. Iris explained that in Dominica, it is difficult and sometimes very expensive to buy the things you need, so you have to learn make do, or do it yourself and use your imagination. At the barbeque on the stone patio, one can watch swordtail fish in swimming among lilypads while downing a glass of straight-from-the-tap water for which the country is renown. A well-worn piece of driftwood is used to hang towels in a mosaic-tiled bathroom. Sofa-style hammocks in a few rooms are a perfect tonic for winding down the day. Meals are lovingly prepared and filled with local fare, like avocadoes, bananas and papayas, topped with homemade (homemade!) yogurt. Sweetened grated coconut and guava jam are just a few options to top off the warmed wholewheat bread. Omelettes can be made to offer. With surprisingly mosquito-free evenings, outdoor night-dining in Dominica is possible and embraced. Our meal, fresh tuna, served with garlicky green beans and other healthy veggies, was divine. Iris said people come to Cocoa Cottages to find something they will not experience anywhere else. They truly offer a unique element of Dominica. Her sentiment is echoed by Richard, who operates the eco-adventure part of the business, giving the more adventure-seeking traveller the opportunity to see the island by air via his six-seater plane, or traverse relatively unexplored canyons of the nature isle through the sport of abseiling. This is an activity not unknown to followers of the CBS television show The Amazing Race, but for the uninitiated, you, Richard and his partner Jeffrey rappel down a canyon using top-of-the-line mountaineering equipment, jump into 20-foot deep pools and hike through waterfalls. They assured us that they have led everyone from age 3 to 75 through the water course, thankfully without incident. As someone with minimal swimming skills, I found myself jumping in (after a few false starts) and dangling high off the canyon floor without fear, knowing I was in the safe and capable hands of two professionals. Imagine being 45 feet below the earth’s surface surrounded by smooth, glistening rock canyon walls, waterfalls and plunging pools, glimpsing the glorious sunshine through the plant life above. Words cannot express. Simply breathtaking.
If you plan to visit Dominica and want to be a part of this unforgettable journey, try giving Iris and Richard a ring tel: (767) 448 0412 or cell: (767) 276-2920, or check out the Web site at www.cocoacottages.com. When we come up for air, we will be posting an entire webpage devoted to the experience. Until then, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more info, or would like to see pictures of our adventure. Thank you Iris, Richard and Jeffrey, we cannot wait to come back to Cocoa Cottages!