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


Have you ever wondered about what you should wear when you’ll come to Dominica? It’s not as easy question to answer as it may look to some of the newcomers.

Apparently, Dominica is a tropical island… So we got to grab our swimsuits and beach outfits, right? Not exactly. Won’t be enough. Think about it: An island is never all the coastline. Dominica does have beautiful and fine beaches of volcanic and white sand, but it also has mountains, towns, waterfalls, hiking tracks… This affects the choice of clothes.

Do pack active wear. It’ll surely come in handy, because Dominica is the right place for ecotourism and activities. The latter include diving and swimming, too, but these are not the only ones which you would go to Dominica for. Of course, you don’t have to miss them, but take them as additional fun.

What many people go to Dominica for is the hiking. There are good tracks and beautiful landscapes to explore. Imagine: Three hundred miles on feet… That is the common length of the tracks. So pay attention to your footgear, even if you’re not a big fan of hiking. Hiking boots will do the trick; they are good both on dirt and rocks.

scottshead, DominicaPhoto by Seth Sawyers via flickr

Tracks and landscapes… Is there anything else important? It wouldn’t be honest of me to omit the challenges. Such things as rainfalls, the sun radiation and the possible cold weather are all worth of consideration.

If you happen to be in the mountains during the rains, you are definitely going to discover what tropical heavy rainfall is. I don’t suppose you want to take forced baths, so you better have a slicker or a raincoat. An umbrella is a little bit worse, because helps less and you’ll have to hold it all the time. Plus, a tourist with an umbrella looks strange in the tropical forest.

The sun is another challenge. Beware. Its delusive tenderness may cause lots of problems, if you don’t take steps. Doesn’t matter where exactly you are, as long as you are exposed to its rays, so be careful. Sunglasses and hats have to become your best friends.

As for the cold weather, it might make a real problem. An average tourist thinks the tropical climate means eternal warm weather and most comfortable temperatures. The truth is this just can’t last. Pack your jackets, sweaters and long pants, if you do not intend to chatter every night.

Clothing is an important part of any country’s culture. There is some kind of public dress code in Dominica, and it says no beach clothes in when public (except for beaches and pools). It’s not like those people have something against that kind of clothing, they don’t just consider it enough. You shouldn’t wear outstandingly revealing clothes in restaurants, shops and on the streets; these are not beaches. And take into account there are no beaches for naturists.

That’s it. Active wear, beach clothing, warm clothing, casual wear, some protection of the sun and rain–that’ll do it. These make the necessary baggage, but you may take anything else if you want to.

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I read the other day that Disney Corporation is buying Marvel Comics for something over US$4 billion. This has caused me to think about what’s wrong with America today. It’s that the American economy is phony; style and not substance, sizzle and not steak.

It seems to me that “producers” in an economy can choose to output real goods or services (that is, products or services that take on their own economic life and/or have high usefulness), that only kill and destroy (weapons and other outputs of the military-industrial conflict), or simply project image but add no value to anything (such as designer logos). The USA has decided to become a producer in the latter two categories, disdainfully leaving most industrial goods production to what it terms the “developing economies”.

Now Disney will reap enormous profits by licensing Marvel images to be woven into, stamped onto, painted on (presumably some with lead-based paint), etc. all sorts of everyday goods like children’s pajamas, mugs, sneakers and the like by Asian sweatshops and sold to Americans in WalMart and other big-box (i.e.; low-wage/no employee benefit) stores.

It’s been going on for about a generation now. Ralph Lauren licenses its name/logo to just about anything, adding no value but jacking up the price but – and this is important – adding no tangible value whatsoever. I’ve seen Ralph Lauren paintbrushes and color selections at a big-box store and Ralph Lauren eyeglass frames at an optical shop.

An even more egregious example is Donna Karan of New York, whoever she is. Is there a Donna Karan? There never was a Betty Crocker, after all. All that company puts out are baseball caps, t-shirts and sweatshirts and handbags emblazoned with “DKNY” in simple block letters. For that, people pay a premium price! In the process they give DKNY free advertising. The jobs and the money flow from the pockets of Americans (mostly the poor) into corporate coffers and out of the USA through the trade imbalance.

America pays heretofore unimaginable riches to entertainment and sports figures while failing to properly reward those who work and even more shamefully, those who first educate themselves. It compounds the error by providing the wrong example to American children, who then abandon education.

A bit over 30 years ago my wife and I met an Australian living very, very well in the USA. His business: He would follow American buyers around in Asia and after working hours, ply them with liquor to learn at which sweatshops they’d made arrangements to have millions of “label” blue jeans produced. Then he’s go to that producer and arrange for about 10 percent more production of the same thing to secretly be made and sold to him. He’s then import to the US and Europe and sell what was the identical product for a substantial discount (but still a very nice profit, thanks to the huge “designer label” markups normally applied).

Take it from me substance matters more than style. Fashion exists to allow us to laugh at ourselves in 30-year-old photos. Who won last year’s sports championships are the answers to trivia questions. Yes, art and entertainment have aesthetic worth, but the worth must be kept in proper perspective. The USA has failed to do so. I hope Dominica learns from the example.

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