Dominica: Should I Jump into a Boiling Lake?

Nick Watt desperately wants to find out if "the perfect Caribbean island" actually exists. So he heads to Dominica, where white sand beaches and flocks of tourists are replaced with lush forests and a lake that is so hot it boils. There's no resorts, but will this natural wonder make you forget about the bikini beaches and cocktails served in coconuts? Nick hits the ground running-or hiking-on an all day hike to the Boiling Lake with Peter Green. Along the way, Peter and Nick break for lunch and boil eggs in the volcanic vents. Then, Peter paints Nick's face with ashy mud. Peter claims is a natural cleanser and disinfectant. Not completely sold on the benefits of mud on his face, Nick takes a quick dip in a small river to wash off. Nick, Peter and crew finally reach the Boiling Lake, a crater of a still active volcano. As night falls, Nick and Peter still have 3 hours of hiking left. It's not Nick's favorite part of the hike. Still sore from the previous day's hike, Nick meets a local legend, Bobby Frederick. Once a public servant, always a Rastafarian, Bobby shares his culture with Nick by taking him to Zion Valley, home of the Rasta community. Along the way Nick and Bobby make a pit stop for bush rum, which Nick describes as "bitter and boozy." Just a few miles up the road in Zion Valley, Bobby introduces Nick to his friends Plough James and Moses James. Plough and Moses live outdoors, grow their own food (including a bit of illegal pot), and worship God. Nick shares a few laughs with Moses and envies his natural living. Up at the northern tip of the island Nick is introduced to the native people, the original residents of the Caribbean. The Kalinago people have survived over 500 years of conquest. Once spread over millions of square miles of the Caribbean Sea, they have been reduced to just 6 square miles of reservation. Claudius Sanford, a member and representative of the tribe, explains to Nick that the nickname "Carib" is actually a derogatory term-translated literally it means "eaters of human flesh." Taking this lesson in etymology a step further, Nick realizes that "Caribbean" means "cannibal" and now feels weird about even using the word. Dominica has been saved from the hordes that have homogenized so much of the Caribbean, and Nick likes it. It might not be perfect, but it's the only real Caribbean island left.

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