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Purely Dominica

Purely Dominica

Caribbean timePhoto by Joe Shlabotnik

I’m not a complainer. Really, I’m not. But having lived my first 68 years in the USA, I find that things being different take me some getting used to. Understand, please, I’m not asserting that “different” is wrong. It’s probably right for here; only I’m unused to it.

So, I’m sucking it up and learning to accept those different things. Still, I think it may amuse Dominicans reading this and help inform and prepare Americans, and Europeans and other “1st-worlders” wishing to settle here as well.

I’ll write about those differences – big and small – from time to time, and will preface it with this paragraph so that you know I’m not complaining.

The Dominican Difference #5:”Dominican Time” and Schedules

Schedules. I don’t mind “Caribbean Time” at all; not after years of catching a commuter train to and from the office. What the heck, I’m retired and can do pretty much what I want when I want to. And I understand that in Dominica where there are no trains or tightly scheduled buses things must naturally proceed in their own good time. That’s especially the case where many people don’t own their own transportation and often can scarcely afford the available transportation.

All this did not take me much getting used to even though I was raised by an adoptive father from Switzerland, where punctuality and schedule-keeping are virtually national obsessions.

TV Scheduling in Dominica

But there is one concession to scheduling I’d like to see Dominica adopt – TV scheduling. We used to have cable TV in the US and it came with a thing called a “set-top box”. One could use the remote control to query the box to display a schedule of programs and the times and which channel they’d be on. Here, whether one has Marpin or SAT, there’s no box; one simply must channel-surf and uses at what’s on. With our time available, it would be nice to be able to plan to watch a movie or event on TV from the beginning, or at least set a recorder to capture it.

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window view of Calibishie in Dominica

Once you’ve selected Dominica (or any other country) as your place of residence, you must decide where in it you wish to live. Do you like the city or the countryside? We prefer the latter and were willing to forego ability to pop in quickly and easily to shop, attend an event, etc. But we also noticed that people who had nicer houses and things living near a city had to fence their yard; have guard dogs, etc. That’s not for us.

You also have to choose between the interior (mountains, possibly cooler and wetter if in the east, or hotter and dry on the west side), or the coast. And if it’s to be the coast, Atlantic or Caribbean (you can have both in Scott’s Head or Capuchin). We prefer the views of waves against rocks, so we chose Calibishie in Dominica’s northeast Atlantic coast.

The first thing you must do when shopping for land in a village is let it be known that you won’t even speak with anyone who can’t show you the title document for the land. That’s because any deal for non-titled land will probably break down once the caveat is published and people come out of the woodwork to lay claim to the land or its prospective sale proceeds.

Then you have other decision points:

  • How good will your view be? Remember to consider how it will be if anyone builds nearby.
  • What is the lay of the land? Is it too steep? (Think about landslides, erosion and strenuous walking about.) Is it too low by the sea? (Think about storm surge danger.) Is it in a river valley? (Think about flash flooding.)
  • What is the soil like? Is it sand, clay, or rocky?
  • Is it on a road?
  • Is it on or near electrical power? (You’ll want an emergency power source anyhow. I could – and later may – write an article about electricity issues.) Note that if it’s not on or near power, land-line telephone, cable TV, and high-speed Internet access won’t be available either. Or, are you prepared to go with solar or wind, or hydro power of your own, and cell-phone Internet?
  • Is it on the “pipe water” line? (You should have an alternate water source. A rain cistern is a must. Proper planning will provide water pressure at least at some taps in the house, or you must have an electric pump – see the point above.) Or, are you prepared to live with only cistern or river water?
  • Will you live among other expats, or become a villager? There are huge social consequences.
  • Will you have the requisite personal and building security?
  • Can your building have the right layout? At 15.5 degrees north latitude the sun passes north of vertical from May through August, and south of vertical the rest of the year, and the trade wind normally blows in from an easterly direction; and controls the slant of driving rain.

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 cable and wireless cheap talk ad

Photo via

People don’t realize it, but monthly subscriptions cost way more that you think, and I’m not talking about those monthly utility bills – I’m referring to the media subscriptions. Take a look.

Businesses like Cable and Wireless used to sell single products, until they realized they could make much more money by selling a subscription. It doesn’t seem like that much when you’re only paying $24/month for your telephone line. Here’s a breakdown of what you might be spending just on media subscriptions:

  • $87/month for Internet (depending on Internet plan)
  • $55/month for cell phone – If you have a post paid account
  • $50/ average monthly cost for cable TV
  • $24/month for telephone line


EC$2592 per year

If you go ahead add in other subscriptions like your gym and you’ll be stunned. I wonder if this is one reasons why a lot of “Young Adults” are still living at home with their parents… I know of a number of 20 somethings that have to have all of the latest gadgets and 15-25K reconditioned cars, cell phone with a million minutes. 😥

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