Personal blog of Derek and Margaret, now living in Dominica, W.I., founders of Ozone Zone – an Independent Canadian book publisher specializing in coffee table books of architectural treasures and lush gardens. We also promote fine artistic photography. This blog contains unofficial reports and comments from our various trips, photo sessions and jobs – an unofficial scrapbook of our travels, explorations and photo-related work. See “about” for more.

Archive for the ‘tourism’ Category

Carnival Fun in Dominica (2015)

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On a typical winter day, tourists get off cruise ships in Roseau to explore narrow, sleepy old streets and lanes and take some snapshots of tiny, cute houses built here long ago.

It all changes during Carnival time. Streets are full of activities, and the town is bustling with music, performers and excited crowds. Specially the two last days of Carnival season (13th and 14th of February) are full of colour and activities covering all streets of town.
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The festivities take place day and night. Concerts and performances in Fort Young Hotel and other places go until late hours (so late it’s rather early) At some 4 in the morning a strange parade fills normally quiet streets signalling part of Carnival called J’ouvert. Under cover of darkness a mocked wedding ceremony is repeated over and over. Strangely dressed brides and grooms of all sorts create an unusual mystery like from a fantasy or dream, only to disappear in early morning hours. But one does not wait long for more fun. The colourful parades – so attractive to all tourists and locals – draw large crowds of people awaiting spectacularly dressed performers. And they come in big numbers. _DAG6351

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Different t-shirt bands, kids’ groups, amazingly dressed adults and official winners of several Carnival categories march together through Roseau forming a long, noisy stream. Dancing to Caribbean rhythms, this parade later regroups forming smaller clusters of people having fun. Two full days and nights of dance, music, food and drink, and most unusually dressed performers are certain to make strong impression on all visitors.

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We photographed for a few hours on streets of Roseau, catching the most spectacular creations. Some dresses go actually far behind typical dress as you know it. They are whole contraptions surrounding parading performers and actually being wheeled along them on little carts. Whole compositions of most unusual props, balloons, ribbons and many other colourful things are mixed into each spectacular creation.
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I am happy to show you some of awarded dresses and best performers of this Carnival in Dominica.
Perhaps you should consider enjoying them next year in person!

Cheers!
Derek

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All photos by Derek Galon, please respect copyright.

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Watching rainbows on a New Year’s day

 DSC04701-2  We’re renting an apartment high on the hills in a quaint village on Dominica island. Our apartment is small but it has a large terrace with a really stunning view of the capital town of Roseau surrounded by lush hills and Caribbean Sea. Usually, we have our breakfasts there. Sipping morning coffee we watch this awe-inspiring view in silence. It’s still a rainy season with occasional passing showers followed by periods of sunshine. DSC04094

From our vintage point, we watch a spectacular display of rainbows suddenly appearing in front of us and quickly vanishing. Very often they form a complete semicircle, an impressive arch filling the sky with colors. Sometimes, we can see fragments of the  circle or an accumulation of rainbow-colored fluffy clouds. Today, “our morning rainbow” was especially impressive: it looked double!

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There was the first semicircle arch outside which appeared to be a second one, but thinner and fainter. I was much surprised when I noticed that the second bow had color pattern inverted. What a treat to see! All the colors of the main rainbow were really intense, very saturated and easy to distinguish: even bright orange and violet which are usually blurred.

Dominica is a land of rainbows: I saw many in different locations on the sky or near waterfalls and lakes around the island – but nothing as spectacular as this one. This phenomenon was also witnessed by our frequent visitor here, the Smooth-billed Ani, a medium size bird with black plumage and parrot-like bill. He seemed to be totally unaware of the subject of our fascination.

Smooth-billed Ani (from cuckoo family) on a nearby bush.

Smooth-billed Ani (from cuckoo family) on a nearby bush.

This fleeting moment of beauty will stay forever in my memory. In two weeks we’ll move out of this apartment and “we’ll lose the view” However, I’m sure that rainbows will still be here without us- witnesses and admirers- as stunningly beautiful as always.

Wishing you all a happy New Year filled with colorful rainbows where ever you are,

Margaret
(Photographs by Derek)

Huge cruise ship docked overnight in Roseau looked from our patio like a giant Christmas ornament

Huge cruise ship docked overnight in Roseau looked from our patio like a giant Christmas ornament

Revisiting Montserrat

Revisiting places you are fascinated by or feel affinity with is a very special treat. We were lucky to had an opportunity to come back to Montserrat, British Overseas Territory nicknamed “the emerald isle of the Caribbean.”

photographing outdoor activities...

photographing outdoor activities…

Life on this beautiful island was changed forever after series of volcanic eruptions on Soufriere Hills in the mid-1990s. Two-thirds of the island was destroyed including Plymouth -the capital town buried by a 40-feet thick layer of lava and volcanic debris.

photographing Volcano from St Joseph's hill - the closest possible point, already in the dreaded  zone V.

photographing Volcano from St Joseph’s hill – the closest possible high located point, already in the dreaded zone V.

Nineteen people lost their lives, eight thousand were forced to leave the island. Today, the volcanic activity is closely monitored by the Montserrat Volcanic Observatory with state of art facilities. Life is concentrated in the “safe zone” up north, where a new capital town is been constructed, and a new airport and marina recently opened.

Mutual attraction - Margaret photographing wild donkeys wondering over destructed old airport area...

Mutual attraction – Margaret photographing wild donkeys wandering over destructed old airport area…

Government’s renewed focus is on bringing new visitors to the island, and we were part of a creative international team working on a new promotion of the island, photographing it’s top attractions.

preparing our drone in the dreaded Volcano Exclusion Zone V

preparing our drone in the dreaded Volcano Exclusion Zone V

photographing volcano from a boat

photographing volcano from a boat

Along with the crew from London and Barbados, we were travelling island up and down, day and sometimes night, photographing and filming many different places. We are not at liberty to show you “official” photos, because they soon will be used in a major international promotion. However, we can share with you some photos showing us in action. We hope these will also give you a glimpse of this fascinating place….

photographing iguana gave me a chance of resting flat for a few minutes - a rare treat during busy schedule ;-)

photographing iguana gave me a chance of resting flat for a few minutes – a rare treat during busy schedule 😉

The island had changed a lot since our first visit 2 years ago. Perhaps the most striking difference for me was its lushness: some parts of the island which I remember as covered in ash are now filled with new vegetation. Boat tour around the island was a highlight of this trip for me: watching an awe inspiring, breathtaking scenery. As usually, we all worked long hours and hard …
We were able to get permission to enter the exclusion zone to photograph Plymouth, this time also using our drone which proved to be very helpful. You can read about previous our experience and see more photos in our earlier posts:

https://ozonezonebooks.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/montserrat-another-photo-shoot-trip-to-the-caribbean/

https://ozonezonebooks.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/new-pompeii-montserrats-old-capital-destroyed-by-volcano/

https://ozonezonebooks.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/plymouth-the-new-pompeii-margarets-notes/

leaving the zone V for a safer ground...

leaving the zone V for a safer ground…

We hope to be back in Montserrat for some more work, and would like to thank MDC, the Tourism Director, our amazing hosts and Montserrat Government, for having us in this brilliant international team. Not only it was a fascinating work, but we all became good friends.

We also thank you for stopping by at this post. Until next time – and Happy New Year to you!
If you like this post, Share and Like it, or Follow to be updated on further stories. Cheers!

Margaret and Derek

Margaret with our boatman after boat tour, along with Patrick and Mark from our creative team.

Margaret with our boatman after boat tour, along with Patrick and Mark from our creative team.

Written by Margaret Gajek, photographs by Derek Galon and Margaret Gajek. Please respect the copyright.

Independence Day – part II Dominica Creole Fest

Beautifully dressed children going with mom to join parade

Beautifully dressed children going with mom to join parade

During the Independence Day celebrations in Dominica, all restaurants and hotels are serving festive Creole food. Street food stands are dressed up in national colours, and people proudly wear traditional dresses.CreoleParadeAndFYH2014small-0293

We went to our favorite Fort Young Hotel to try some of the traditional dishes. As we’re vegetarians, we skipped traditional “goat water” – a kind of a broth/stew, and concentrated our interest on roasted veggies with breadfruit and plantains, cassava bread, callaloo soup and colorful salads – all very delicious!CreoleParadeAndFYH2014small-0428

Walking through the streets of Roseau feels like taking part in a fashion show: almost everyone is wearing some version of national costume made of colorful madras cotton. The history of this fabric is fascinating. Produced in Southeastern India, it made its way to all corners of British colonies including Caribbean in the 18th century. It is believed that its criss-crossed pattern was influenced by tartan worn by the Scottish regiments in India. CreoleParadeAndFYH2014small-0286However, unlike tartan with particular patterns representing one clan, Caribbean madras is used by everyone in endless variations of colors and patterns. The only limit is one’s creativity, although some rules may apply as Adrianna Henderson explains in her article about national dress of Dominica:
http://ciad.org.uk/2012/05/07/adrianna-henderson-on-the-national-dress-of-dominica

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The best costumes are awarded in a special ceremony called Wob Dwiyet. Next day, the winners take part in a street parade; a dazzling display of vibrancy and color. My favorite part of the whole costume was a headdress, a creative combination of a hat and a head wrap worn in a fantastic number of shapes; each one a unique showpiece creation.
Check the link to this interesting article, if you wish to know more.

CreoleParadeAndFYH2014small-0277We end this story with a bunch of colorful photos from the streets of Roseau and from Fort Young Hotel, where during lunch time we also enjoyed watching a dance group performing to traditional Jing Ping music.

Stay tuned, if you like it – share, and FOLLOW to be notified about next posts! Thank you!

Margaret

All photos copyright Derek Galon. Story by Margaret Gajek. Please respect our copyright. No usage without authorization, please. We are now available in Dominica for photography and publishing. Contact us for more info.

Creole Fest decorations at Fort Young Hotel brought to mind decorations we see in North America for the Thanksgiving Day.

Creole Fest decorations at Fort Young Hotel brought to mind decorations we see in North America for the Thanksgiving Day.

 

 

 

Lots of tasty Creole food at the Fort Young Hotel.

Lots of tasty Creole food at the Fort Young Hotel.

Traditional Jing Ping band performed along with a dance group at Fort Young Hotel.

Traditional Jing Ping band performed along with a dance group at Fort Young Hotel.

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Independence Day Celebrations – Dominica 2014

So, we are in Dominica, organizing our things and awaiting arrival of our container from Canada.

Main stage of the concerts in the Stadium, opening night.

Main stage of the concerts in the Stadium, opening night.

We arrived in Dominica just in time for Independence Day celebrations: over two weeks of music festivals, parades, national dress contests and all sorts of lively events. Dominica gained independence only 36 years ago, and Dominicans are very passionate about it. Many of them living abroad come to the island on this special occasion to join in all festivities.WMCF2014small-0928

Music festivals attract also large crowd from French speaking neighboring islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique as well as Spanish and English speaking regions. WMCF2014small-9867They share love for the Caribbean rhythms of reggae, soca, zouk and bouyon performed at the World Creole Music Festival- three long nights of pulsating, electrifying music.

The World Music Creole Festival concerts were well organized by Discover Dominica, and there were enough bands to offer something to everybody. Surely, we all have different tastes and expectations and some bands were not as good as others – but that can be said about practically every festival, and we were impressed with professional organization, sound system, and visual presentation of it all.

Smiling Drummers gave a performance full of rhythms and flair

Smiling Drummers gave a performance full of rhythms and flair

Concerts started soon after sunset and lasted until morning hours – quite a marathon! Then, during day time there were many other attractions worth considering (we will share a story about this in our next post).

The biggest star this year and a crowd’s favorite was Jamaican reggae sensation Jah Cure. We quickly became fans of Dominica’s own bouyon group Triple Kay Band, after their energetic and groovy performance. Not only their playing was clearly at a high skill level, but the songs were full of surprises, cleverly composed and uplifting.

Triple K performing in the park

Triple Kay performing in the park

We quickly agreed with a paraphrase of a popular song they created: “When Triple Kay plays – nobody can say -No!” We will be following career of this fine local band and we hope to see them spread wings far behind Dominica.

Traditional performances took place in the park.

Traditional performances took place in the park.

Triple Kay also took part in the Creole in the Park- four days of music performances on the grounds of Botanic Gardens. We immensely enjoyed not only the music but also a more relaxed, casual atmosphere and the strongly present sense of togetherness of all performers and audience. CreoleInPark2014small-1427This event is a magnet for people of all age groups including families with children who are having a great fun together.

We hope you enjoy our photos from these events.CreoleInPark2014small-03924

In next post we will share our experience from other festivities, such as colorful parade, dress contests, and fantastic food offered during the celebrations. Stay tuned, share if you like it, and FOLLOW to be notified about it!
Thank you!

Margaret
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All photos copyright Derek Galon. Story by Margaret Gajek. Please respect our copyright. No usage without authorization, please.

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The Battle With Chikungunya – a New Weapon?

Aedes_aegyptiIn next three weeks we are moving with Margaret from Victoria in Western Canada to Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean. From no-mosquito zone, down to the zone of Chikungunya. When photographing in Dominica this summer, we’ve seen friends affected by this nasty virus, and we are fully aware we may be next in line to get it. Not only a painful and unpleasant disease to get, Chikungunya also acts as a negative tourism factor. Canada has a travel warning in effect, and I am sure other countries have similar advices in effect, making potential visitors vary and picking other destinations instead.

I am no tourism expert at all, but I am sure it has a negative effect on the whole Caribbean tourism industry. Surely, there are some measures in effect to control population of Aedes Aegypti mosquito, same as the Asian Tiger mosquito which is also capable of spreading the virus. But – can we do anything more to protect ourselves?

Somehow I’ve got quite deeply into the subject, spent lots of time, effort, and also money to research it the best I could. I learned that Aedes Aegypti – the tiny Caribbean mosquito – has very specific habits. It is mostly a daytime mosquito, it tries to stay very close to homes, cattle barns, etc. – but it is not typically living indoors. Contrary to popular understanding, it is NOT attracted to the UV light of popular insect catchers. You know these high voltage traps with blue light? They will kill lots of innocent moths but very few mosquitoes, and practically NO Aedes Aegypti! Similarly, the Asian Tiger mosquito doesn’t get attracted to these devices.

Asian Tiger, however, has different habits and is attracted to different things than Aedes Aegypti. There are many very expensive mosquito traps on the market. Some use a propane tank to produce CO2 to imitate human presence, some employ different methods or chemicals. Unfortunately, several scientific tests proved them to be mostly effective on mosquito species which are NOT the ones responsible for Chikungunya and Dengue Fever. Aedes Aegypti – the main culprit – clearly is one of the most tricky mosquitoes to catch.

Scientists in South America performed some successful tests with a very simple device. Typically you should avoid any containers holding water and left outdoors. Yet, the method mentioned above calls for a container with some water inside.

Have it under control and change the water every week or so. Mosquitoes are lured to the water, their natural breeding spot. They will lay eggs there. But it takes over 10 days for larvae to develop, and you empty the container before there are “ready” adult mosquitoes, all mosquito larvae will be destroyed when you pour the water out. You pour back some fresh water, and here they go again. By coming to your container they won’t breed in other uncontrolled areas. You invite them to breed, but then their larvae got destroyed, cycle after cycle. But you need not to miss a cycle, or you will have a swarm of personally invited mosquitoes! This is the most basic trap which costs nothing and helps controlling the pesky and dangerous mosquitoes. Because of  Aedes Aegypti specific habits, to make it most effective you should set such water trap near the house but out of your way, in a shaded, protected from wind area (back side? in nearby bushes?).

There is, however, another, new method I am quite excited about. I invested some money in obtaining samples of a new device created recently in response to several scientific tests. That device uses several factors to lure mosquitoes, and seems to be the most successful weapon so far. The decisive factor in them is a customized lure. Each species of mosquito is attracted to different elements. Some react to CO2, some prefer faint smell of lactic acid (a chemical present in our sweat), some favour yet other substances. A specialized developer I am in contact with, produces a clever device and customized lures for all species of mosquitoes. You can combine lures attracting a few species simultaneously. I did not have a chance to test the device (no Aedes Aegypti in my part of Canada), but I saw scientific reports, and I plan to test these devices when we will move to Dominica.

If these will prove even half as effective as reported, it may be a serious weapon in reducing the threat of these disease spreading mosquitoes. While in everyday life I am a professional photographer offering my high quality services to you, I intend to follow up on this, conduct some tests and report back to you on our blog

If working well, this small electric device may be able to help protecting you and your guests against mosquitoes, create a mosquito free zones in your homes, reduce number of Chikungunya and Dengue cases, and perhaps – if endorsed by Caribbean governments – it can help easing the worries of future visitors to this region.

Please click “follow” on our blog to hear more about it. You will be updated with every post from us. I intend to report back with honest and detailed comments about this device. We need to know if there is a new effective tool, or it is once again something not so reliable. If it works – I may even bring it down here commercially! Just give me a bit of time, we are moving in 3 weeks from now, need to unpack, settle down, then we can do some tests. We actually have a few extra units which will be tested by our friends in different areas of Dominica, to gather more detailed info. Stay tuned!

(And until then – you can try the water trap. I tested it here in Canada with other species of mosquitoes, and it works really good. Cheers!)

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