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Vancouver, British Columbia
May 25, 2005
We were lost, hot, sweaty, and frustrated. There were some tipsy men in the alley who wanted to help us, but they could not understand our questions or read our map—or maybe they were just too happily drunk to make much sense of anything.
We were about to give up when we saw dozens of schoolchildren hurrying back to school after their lunchtime break. They wore smart uniforms that loving parents had washed, ironed, and mended with great care. Most girls wore elaborate braids, and nearly all the boys had short, neat haircuts. A boy about 10 or 11 years old suddenly broke away from the herd and stopped in front of us. All in a lilting rush, he asked if we were lost, if he could look at our map, if we wanted to go the Botanical Gardens, and could he take us there? We thanked him and began following our new guide straight up the alleyway. All the children were heading in the same direction because the main school in Roseau is right at the entrance to the gardens. It turned out that we were on the right path after all, but the lane was so steep that we could not see the gardens until we reached the top.
After thanking our schoolboy guide and giving him a couple of dollars to buy ice cream, we went into gardens. There are acres of gorgeous tropical flowers and fruits; luxuriant vines, trees, and bushes; and exotic birds and insects. There are hills and valleys and vistas of great beauty stretching all the way to the sea. The parrot research centre is wonderful and well worth visiting. In another area, a rather nondescript shrub holds some of the world’s largest and most brilliantly coloured caterpillars. In other parts of the gardens, there are horticultural experiments, rare plants, and orchids growing in every direction. There are broad, paved avenues curving through the carefully tended, park-like settings and narrow dirt paths disappearing into wild vegetation.
If you don’t get lost, it only takes about 20 minutes to walk from the pier to the Botanical Gardens. The gardens are open year-round, and there is no admission charge. There are entrances off Trafalgar Road and Queen Mary Street.
From journal Dominica--The Most Beautiful Windward Island
July 29, 2004
From journal Dominica Caribbean Diamond in the Rough