Personal blog of Derek and Margaret, working 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.

Posts tagged ‘vacation’

Why Dominica

Old tree in Syndicate Forest.

View from our home

Caught in busy life of rebuilding our home damaged by hurricane Maria, landscaping our gardens, commercial photo and video projects here in Dominica and on neighbouring islands, dealing with our Permanent Residency status, and other everyday work, one may actually forget the core thing – WHY are we living in Dominica for the last 6 years?   Why HERE?

Having to cope with numerous everyday matters, we noticed we got tired and are falling into a daily routine.
However, couple of months ago, one of my projects for a friend from JustGoDominica.com required me to go to various nature places  of Dominica – and this gave me lots of joy forgotten in recent years. So, we decided to go both visiting the most beautiful locations we know, and to continue exploring new places.

Syndicate falls, Dominica

These once-a-week trips keep giving us more energy, inner peace, harmony and happiness. And we realized these gave us back the reason to be here!  While it did quietly slip away from our agenda – the main reason of living in Dominica is its beauty!

Syndicate Falls, Dominica

Beauty of nature, balance one can find here, less commercialization of our lives and living mostly outdoors-  this is why we decided to move here.

Detail in old forest.

Surely, we do have our everyday tasks to perform – but we promised ourselves to always try and keep some time to go around and experience Dominica’s nature every now and then.
Therefore we would like to share with you some of photographs taken on our latest hike.

We found our peace and happiness in Dominica, and never regret moving here.

Palm trees in bloom

But perhaps happiness can be found everywhere if we have time and will to see beauty around us, and find some moments to do and see things that are our passion and give us joy.

And, if you are like us and find thrill in experiencing daily living in nature and tropics – Dominica will be happy to see you, even for a short visit. The joy can be yours!

 

Syndicate Forest and National Park Info center. Dominica.

As for me – I am now charging batteries for our another trip!

Thank you for visiting our little blog. If you like what you see, please share with others.

Cheers, until next time!
Derek and Margaret
http://ArtPhotographyServices.com

All photos are copyrighted Derek Galon, please respect it. Thank you.

#Dominica  #DiscoverDominica

Revisiting Papillote Gardens in Dominica

While life keeps us extremely busy with rebuilding our home after the hurricane Maria (we hope it will finish in about 2 months! Hurray!), we try to work on photography and video as much as we can. And there is lots of work to be done. Just recently our XL sized prints were placed on walls of S-Mart supermarket, adding a flavour of local nature to the store.

our prints on walls of S-Mart

 

Mounting my huge print inside Dominica International Airport

Soon after -in collaboration with #EliteEvents –  International Airport in Dominica had been decorated with even bigger size prints. We are working on a series of wall-decor nature prints available in several retail locations, and – same as these above projects – we do it in collaboration with the best printers in Dominica – Campbells.

Then, I had a creative photo-video session with a professional model and a friend – Nicole Morson. We worked together before. This time it was a horse-riding theme, courtesy of fantastic Brandy Manor Riding Center near Portsmouth.

I am now preparing for a short trip to Grenada, to do photography and video for promotion of a new luxury boutique resort – I should have more about it soon.

So, as you see – there is quite a b it of work we are tackling on top of our everyday lives.

Nicole Morson during our photo session

 

But during all these activities we also revisited the Papillote Gardens in Trafalgar – one of our most favourite Caribbean gardens. It is always  a pleasure to meet Anne, garden’s creator. She helped me filming several agouti feeding before sunset, and we were shown all recent changes and improvements.

During these visits we did what we always try to do – filmed and photographed, and Margaret had a short interview with Anne. The result is now available for you to see – a short video presenting Papillote Gardens. Have a look. We hope you will enjoy!

 

So, that is all for now, we will be in touch soon.

Don’t forget to like and share the post if you enjoyed it. All the best!
Derek and Margaret

Experience the Island Reborn – video

In our previous post We shared our experience from producing a short movie for #DominicaFilmChallenge – a clip that won one of their awards and enjoyed 160,000 views in just one month. We also mentioned then that we have another video ready – and now we are happy to share it to you.

As we in Dominica just remembered 1st anniversary of hurricane Maria, here is our little contribution to it. It basically is similar to the video which was awarded at Dominica Film Challenge 2018, but with more nature footage. I hope you will enjoy – and hopefully visit Dominica soon as it looks better and better. Enjoy the flick!
Until next time, cheers
Derek and Margaret

Dominica Film Challenge

The last three months saw us crossing our island of Dominica back and forth, filming some amazing places. Now that all the work is already done we can sit down and tell you about it.

Margaret starting our drone in Scotts Head

For the last few years Dominica Tourism Authority (DDA) organizes Dominica Film Challenge to promote the island as a nature destination. So far it were teams of avid travellers from abroad who got invited to participate. But this year for the first time the concept changed, and only local Dominica filmmakers were invited to apply.

Nahjie securing our way in canyon

We offered ourselves to participate and were among the six teams selected to create a short movie on a given theme. Our theme was “hiking”, but we decided that we should expand over this theme, taking advantage of being both local and also foreign. I mean, yes – we live here for five years and know Dominica for much longer. But we also spent half of our life in Europe, then many years in Canada – travelling a lot – including various off-the-usual-path places, also in the Caribbean. That gives us a different perspective. We thought we could see what visitors may find most thrilling in Dominica, but also how the post-hurricane recovery and all the changes it caused may create an added attraction for them.

Margaret in the canyon

That gave Margaret a nice start to write her script, beginning with a short introduction of Dominica as a beautiful Nature Island, then reminding of last year’s hurricane and then going on a trip to re-discover Dominica and see the changes. We had some nice pre-hurricane footage and also documented Dominica soon after it. So, now we recorded recovering nature and visited some amazing locations, also filming short interviews with tourist guides.

Trafalgar Falls 6 months after hurricane

The trip we both remember as the most unusual was the canyoning with our friend and a fantastic guide from ExtremeDominica.com, Nahjie Laflouf, and his climbing partner, Junior. They brought us to a beautiful rock formation at the bottom of a canyon. Beautiful and amazing place to film. However, dragging the equipment through a rough path often changing to a vigorous stream, then through high river waters was not exactly easy for us, and without their help it simply would not happen! But the reward for this hike was amazing, and the footage shows it well.

on hiking trail over Freshwater Lake

Our favoutite locations such as Freshwater Lake or Trafalgar Falls were surely nice to revisit, but I also filmed in the bush, taking close-up shots of recovering nature and re-growing forest. The last on our list was a boat trip through the Indian River with “Fire”, a great guide we know for years. We found Indian River changed but really beautiful – as “Fire” said – we could see “a different kind of beauty” around us. We saw the nature bouncing back, a heart-warming assurance that soon it will regain its old glory.

Derek on boat with “Fire”

Being on boat with “Fire” is always great. Whenever we had visiting friends we made sure they go with him exploring Indian River nature reserve. But this time – although this is how he makes a living – when “Fire” heard we make a film to promote Dominica – he refused any payment for the trip. What a guy! Respect, man!

With all material in hand we spent quite a time editing it and crafting as a super-short movie.

We actually decided that requested length of 3 minutes did not have proper chance to tell our story the way we wanted – so we delivered… TWO movies! One is officially entered to the Dominica Film Challenge, and another one is a bonus. Two-for-one, well – you know – like a pizza. This version extended by two extra minutes shows more of nature recovery process which we find fascinating.

What really adds to our video is the voice-over. We were in luck to “discover” a great talent in the person of Kevin Francis who recorded Margaret’s narration in a single take, bringing out every flavour of this short text. Combined with fantastic music by our Polish friend, a guitarist Andrzej Chochol, it added a really immersive sound layer.

Indian River nature reserve

All work is done and delivered, now progressively launched by Discover Dominica along five other videos.

We surely hope you will this short film. We had a blast doing it, and thanks to it we visited places we did not see before. So, all is well. Now, click the link, have a look, and “like” and “share” the clip if you find it nice. Your clicks will help selecting the winning video!
Please use headphones if watching on a tablet or small laptop.
Dominica – Hike an Island Reborn

Enjoy!
Derek and Margaret

Please remember all photos are copyright Derek Galon and Ozone Zone Books. No usage without written authorization. Thank you.

#DominicaFilmChallenge,  #rediscoverDominica, #DiscoverDominica

 

Giraudel Flower Show 2016

_DAG8956-smWe were fortunate this year to attend the Giraudel Flower Show in Dominica, where we live now. This special event was held in the village of Giraudel situated on the slopes of Morne Anglais, one of the tallest mountains in the south. The village of Giraudel is known as the “flower basket” of Dominica.

At the entrance to the show

At the entrance to the show

Rich volcanic soil and frequent rains make ideal conditions for growing flowers and healthy vegetables this village is famous for. The Flower Show started in 1973 and grew out of local celebrations of Achievement Day, showcasing local produce, crafts and the best gardens. Since then it was run every second or third year with a bigger break after devastating hurricane David. _DAG8903sm

Sybil Alfred and Desmond Augustine at the Show.

Sybil Alfred and Desmond Augustine at the Show.

We, the Flower Grower Group, recently bought this piece of land and finally have a permanent home for the show,” explains Sybil Alfred- one of the organizers who is involved from the very beginning. “It is very much a community effort, everyone contributes in a different way and everyone is welcome – from small individual growers to commercial flower shops and gardens”.
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”We went into the small house containing flower arrangements. “This year’s general theme is ‘Flowers in a changing environment’”, says Sybil. “When you look around, you see trees being cut, too much garbage and destruction. We say- stop this and concentrate on natural beauty instead.” The display space is divided into sections with different themes and corresponding flower arrangements. Some of the themes are: “Prevent destruction”, “Protect nature’s diversity”, “Resilience”, “Bury careless damage”, “Eat local”, “Harmony with nature” and the last one: “We will bloom again.”

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The display is colourful and striking. Different varieties of Anthurium, Ginger and Costus are the most frequently used plants, together with Alstroemeria, Dahlia and Marigold. I really like a bouquet made of blue Agapanthus- these showy globes are three times bigger than what we grew in our garden in British Columbia, Canada. I truly started to be fond of these strong combination of reds, orange and yellow only when we begun to work on our book “Exotic Gardens of the Easter Caribbean”. As a gardener, I’ve always preferred pastels, whites and textural plants – but here, under tropical sun these vibrant colours really make a strong statement against the background of intensely green rainforest.

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We step outside into the sunshine and wonder around another section showing a variety of natural landscapes and different growing conditions on the island: from lush rainforest of the interior to dry Caribbean coast. This section is skilfully put together by Desmond Augustine, owner of the local plant nursery and a master florist. Here the display includes funky mannequins impersonating workers in the fields.
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But this is not everything: there is a tree house with ferns, a shade garden, a field of colourful zinnias, bromeliads… there is still so much to see! We had a wonderful time discovering all corners of the Giraudel Flower Show and ended up buying beautiful peace lily, spathiphyllum wallisii to be planted in our garden later on. I can’t imagine a more enjoyable Sunday afternoon.
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I wish you were here!
Until next time!
– Margaret.

If you enjoy this story, please SHARE, let your friends read it too!
Thanks!

Story by Margaret Gajek
Photos: Derek Galon, Ozone Zone. Please respect copyright.

Martinique

Beginning of this year has been extremely busy for us, filled with new, exciting, and often challenging projects. Among other activities we contributed articles and dozens of images to several publications including two last editions of MACO Magazine – the ever-popular Caribbean lifestyle magazine. Our write-ups are about unique and quirky homes on Dominica island where we now live. MACO also featured our story about rebirth of Montserrat after it’s last devastating volcano eruption. When our family came from England for a visit, we decided to take a short break from work, and travel with them to a neighbouring island of Martinique._DSC7245

We boarded catamaran ferry operated by L’Express des Iles which links a few nearby islands with Dominica. From the ferry you can really see how extraordinarily beautiful this mountainous island is, covered with lush greenery and surrounded by turquoise coral reefs.

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Last glimpse at Dominica – heading to Martinique

Our boat left calm Caribbean Sea and entered rough Atlantic waters. With strong winds it could be a rough ride. Fortunately, the day was calm and soon we were able to see silhouettes of approaching Martinique. It is much more populated than Dominica – over four hundred thousand people live there. From a boat you can clearly see quaint little villages dotting the coastline, and much bigger concentration of population around the Fort-de-France area. It is a metropolis comparing to Dominica with only seventy-two thousand inhabitants.

photo: Derek Galon

Bibliotheque Schoelcher by architect Pierre-Henri Picq

The first thing we noticed after leaving the ferry terminal in Fort-de-France was an elaborate, colourful building of Bibliotheque Schoelcher on the other side of grassy lawns of La Savanne park. Its architecture has a fairy tale quality, and perhaps could look more at home somewhere in Turkey or Italy – maybe because of eclectic, curious mixture of different designing influences including Byzantine, Art Nouveau and ethnic building traditions of French colonies. Library is named in honour of Victor Schoelcher, the French cabinet minister and influential abolitionist. In 1883 he donated books from his own collection to the people of Martinique and was inspiration for this development.

This intricate building was designed by Pierre- Henri Picq in 1884, built in Paris, displayed at the 1889 World Exposition and shipped in pieces to Fort-de-France. Picq is also an architect of other city landmarks like Cathedral St-Louis, Grand Marche – covered produce market, and corner building of Magasin du Printemps. His another eye-catching building, the Museo Artequin in Santiago, Chile, perhaps resembles Bibliotheque Schoelcher the most. Interestingly, in most English speaking travel guides (including Lonely Planet) his last name is spelled Pick, which explains why I couldn’t find any information about him on-line on English sites.

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Patisserie Friandises des Iles – our most favourite, perhaps the best small chain in Martinique, with shops in Fort de France, Schoelcher, and case Pilote.

The old city of Fort-de-France is small but full of interesting buildings and… patisseries. Our sightseeing was seriously distracted by our weakness for sweets – but how can you resist delicious French eclairs with fluffy, delicate and fragrant cream?

We took a drive up the scenic coastal road north, which goes through old fishing villages. Our favourite was Case Pilote with old stone church and a charming town square with town hall, a water fountain in the middle and yes, a delicious patisserie.

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Fountain in Case-Pilote

Atmospheric town of St Pierre has a fascinating and gloomy history. On May 8th , 1902 the whole city was totally destroyed by pyroclastic flow from erupting volcano of Mont Pelee in 10 short minutes. The speed of black clouds carrying volcanic gases and burning ash was over 670km per hour and temperature as high as 1,075 degrees C. Wikipedia brings a very detailed description of this tragic eruption. Nearly 30 thousand people lost their lives. One of the lucky escapists was a prisoner named Cyparis, locked in a jail cell.

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Mont Pelee

Not much have been left from the original city. The most impressive ruins are of an old 18th- century theatre, which once seated 800. It was built in 1786, reconstructed in 1831, resembling a theatre in Bordeaux. Well preserved a double set of stairways gives a sense of grandeur and an enormous scale of the building.

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Double set of stairs to amphiteatre

Depth of the stage allowed for big productions, ranging from classical to vaudeville as well as great operas. Setting for the theatre is as spectacular as the building itself – located on a hill with spectacular views of the sea and Mont Pelee.

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Mt Pelee seen through old gate of theatre

In times of its glory it must have been an awe inspiring sight. Curiously, the theatre was closed down shortly before the eruption of Mont Pelee as a result of huge loans for renovations in 1900, that couldn’t be paid off.

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Old, rusted trasnformer in theater ruins.

 

We wandered through the narrow streets of this fascinating town ending up (of course!) in another delicious patisserie.

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Remainings of the theater

Back from this short trip, refreshed and excited, we got back to our work with new energy – but this is yet another story…

Until next Time! Cheers!
Derek and Margaret

If you like this story, please Share and Like it.
Story by Margaret Gajek
Photographs by Derek Galon – please respect copyright.
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Front of a typical old house in St Pierre

The Nature Island Still Rocks!

_DAG1505_6_7-Panorama-sm-sAbout a month passed since the tropical storm Erika lashed  Dominica, flash-flooding it with about 15 inches of rain in mere 10 hours of time. It was in the news around the world, so I won’t repeat the tragic ordeal we all experienced here. With the destruction and heavy losses, the whole country stood together working hard to patch the biggest wounds as soon as possible. Countless and  huge  landslides are in most part cleared, temporary bridges are being installed, whole villages keep working together on major cleanups. Both airports are reopened and the tourist season will start soon.  And guess what? Dominica is still as beautiful as ever!
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We both were anxious to find out what happened with most popular and beautiful attractions, making the Dominica what it is – the “Nature Island of the Caribbean”. Weather became beautiful once again. We packed our photo and video gear, and went on hiking.  Trafalgar Falls – the iconic falls were easy to drive to, and we were impressed how quickly landslides were cleared off the long, winding road. The falls themselves changed a lot. Not only they are now devoid of much vegetation, exposing huge, bare boulders (some of which are freshly fallen, pushed by massive power of flooding waters), but also another surprising change occurred. _DAG1453_4_5-sm-sHidden for decades, hot sulfur springs running next to the taller waterfall were uncovered by the storm. So, now the waterfall is joined by picturesque hot springs, clearly visible thanks to their sulfur-stained, intense orange rocks. The milky water running down the spring mixes with fresh water of the waterfall in a small rocky pool, making it a delightful option for a nice, warmer bath.  We went up and close to both falls which was a bit tricky as we had to drag with us about 20 kilograms of photo gear, and it is not a typical hike but rather jumping and climbing between huge builders, constantly up and down. Our efforts were well rewarded by the beauty of the newly reshaped falls. To be so close to them, to hear hiss of falling water, feel the cool breeze of tiny droplets – it was quite magical experience. We photographed, filmed with drone and regular video camera, and enjoyed every minute of this blissful time. It was so good to see the falls in full glory, perhaps even more unique than before._DAG1475_6_7-sm-s

See them up and close as we did, simply play the HD video we are sharing with you. We hope you will enjoy!

Fantastic weather continued, and just couple of days later we decided to check the trail to Boeri Lake, and our favourite Freshwater Lake. Driving up the steep road to Laudat, once again we were impressed with amount of work done to clear dozens of huge landslides. Parts of the road damaged by floods are already being restored and fixed.

We arrived at the beginning of trail without problems, and started the one hour long hike to Boeri Lake. The views were breath-taking and hike was fun. In one spot we had to take hiking shoes off to cross a shallow  river, which added a flavour to our walk. The trail survived Erika really well and  the whole hike was really enjoyable. Arriving at the end of path, we looked in silence at the serene, small but amazing Boeri Lake. [Group-6]-_DAG1683_4_5__DAG1704_5_6-8-images-sm-s
It is the highest freshwater lake in Dominica, set in an old volcano crater at 850 meters above sea level. Air is cool and fresh here, lush greenery around  – pristine and unspoilt.  We were alone, enjoying the serene feel of the place. The weather was fantastic and lake full of vibrant green and blue colours. We were told most times it is misty and cloudy here, with lake looking mostly  black and eerie. Seemingly we were lucky to catch it on one of these clear, sunny days.  Looking closer we were surprised to realize that water level was clearly much higher than usually. Grass and smaller plants were visible some two feet under water, adding a green carpet to the shallow shore of the lake. _DAG1719_20_21-sm-s

As we descended back, we decided to stop at the nearby Freshwater Lake, which is in the same area and located just slightly lower. We were there just 6 weeks earlier, and saw it covered with low clouds, mist and fog. At this time, however, it looked sunny and happy, inviting for a quick, refreshing swim.  Never before we saw this place with no wind at all, so calm, fresh and still. I just had to fly our drone and film it.

Same as with Trafalgar Falls, we would like to share our hike with you and show you our short video clip. We hope you will enjoy!

These two trips awaken our appetites to see more. We plan to visit other places soon, filming and photographing them for you.
So, subscribe to our blog and be among the first to know our new posts. And if you like what you see – please SHARE with friends.
Until next time, cheers!

Derek and Margaret

Please note: all images/video are copyrighted, please respect our rights. no usage without authorization. Thank you!

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