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Experience Dominica – The Nature Island: Dominica Vacations | Exotic Vacations | Honeymoon Destination

Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.

Archive for March, 2011


If you’re an American expat, not only in Dominica, but anywhere, you might find a “comfort zone” in having access to American television programs. It turns out that there’s a way to do it, using the Internet and something called a Sling box. Here’s how it works:

The box is installed at a facility in the US, and you have (pay for) a US subscription to a cable TV service that feeds into the box.

From abroad, you have ability to access an IP audio/video stream from the box to your computer. (You can display you PC screen on your TV and hear the sound on your stereo, if you have the PC outputs, cables and know-how.)

You use software (SlingPlayer) to control your Sling box from your PC. The software essentially turns your PC into a remote and a set-top box.

You can, as with any US cable subscription, choose basic content or premium. There’s also a digital video recorder (DVR) option, which may come in handy if there’s a very significant time difference between the zone where the box is located and where you are.

This is an Internet Protocol (IP) stream, so you must have decent speed Internet service and shouldn’t expect full high-definition (HD) television – reception is sort of like color TV was up until the 1990s. That’s often all right, but a letdown when the broadcaster expects you to be watching in HD and shows things you simply don’t have the screen resolution to view them.

Premium programming always contains music streams, but you can always get those for free over the Internet anyhow.

I’ve found two companies offering Sling box service. They are HABU (Hook a Brother Up) and A to B Television. On the web, respectively, they’re at www.habu.tv and www.a2btv.com. They both offer a free tryout demo of an hour or two and/or extended for-pay demos. You must download and install the SlingPlayer software on your PC, which both companies allow you to do for free.

It’s still cable, which means you get lots of channels you don’t care about for a fixed price and scheduled programs (or you can record them). I think that having what you want when you want it and paying for nothing else using the Internet would be better, but even in the US TV/PC integration is incomplete. And you

can’t stream some content to an outside of the US location – I’ve tried that with Netflix, and even with a virtual private network (VPN) package like AnchorFree running on my PC, Netflix seems to know I’m not in the US and won’t stream a movie to me

And don’t even think about having your own satellite TV dish. (Why not is beyond the scope of this article, but, trust me, it’s not an option.)

So, for now, it’s local cable and fairly low cost or HABU or a2b at their prices (see the web sites) PLUS the US cable subscription price and any pay-per-view offered at considerably more. Your choice and your priorities.

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The Syndicate area contains many wonderful things. Like, the mountain and the visitor center, the Northern Forest Reserve and the birds. For the tourists, the Milton (Syndicate) Falls are next in line for visiting. Their other name is Syndicate Falls, they are named after the area.

The waterfall is exceptionally beautiful, and it’s not hard to get there. All the way takes about twenty minutes.

The reference position is Dublanc, the coastal village. To the north of it, there is the signposted road. Watch the right side of the road, that’s where the Milton Falls sign should appear in around ten minutes. Go along the track to the fork, where you choose the left branch. At the next bifurcation you also go left. The path leads uphill, and it’s kind of muddy.

The trail to the fall starts in the small parking area, where the second Milton Falls signpost and a large mango tree are. You’ll have to pay the fee of 2 US dollars per person to the co-operative called Banana Topia Inc. The reasons to pay are like these: You’ll be going to pass through private land and the co-operative is maintaining the trail and developing facilities. For paying, walk to the building where the vehicle track leads.

Milton (Syndicate) Falls in DominicaPhoto by Heather Bratulich

After you do, proceed. There’s going to be one more fork. That’s right: You take the trail to the left, again. Follow it along the river until you find the small tributary. Then walk along its bank, it’ll be the right side and it finishes with a dead end. Just before the end, you’ll see the trail appear on the opposite bank. Cross the tributary, so you could follow the trail over the shingly left bank. Then, you will reach the waterfall.

I don’t recommend you bathe in the falls. There is a sign at the head of the track. It informs the tourists that the Milton Falls are a water source for several settlements; so if one introduces pollutants to the falls, it will affect those who depend on the water. Polluting the falls is an offence punishable by a fine and imprisonment. The law is not mean; in fact, it is necessary. So the tourists have to content themselves with simple observing. It’s great fun, too.

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Not only is Middleham Falls a marvelous work of nature, cascading off a rainforest ridge and falling perhaps 150 to 200 feet into a tranquil blue swimmable pool, but also Dominica has done itself proud by making a nice, clean, comfortable trail-head facility and a remarkably well-made and well-maintained trail into the falls that made the hike reasonable even for this 70-year-old.

It is access, after all, that makes the nature most enjoyable, and Dominica can be justifiably proud of the job it has done with its presentation of Middleham Falls. The pathway was graveled and its steps were all in place.

There were solid bridges and railings where necessary, and we saw signs of trail markings repainted so recently that some paint drops were still on plant leaves. Great job!

middleham falls in Dominica

To get to the trail entrance we used (there are others) follow the road from Roseau to Laudat. Before reaching Laudat you’ll see a large prominent sign on your left. The trailhead facility, with rain shelter, large sign maps giving clear directions (and the trail is well signposted too, and has rest benches) is about ¼ mile down the drivable track. Go, and enjoy Middleham Falls.

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