The Tourists

Published: Friday, 16 October 2009 Written by Nellie Jules

On a Tuesday and Friday in Dominica, when the tourist season officially closes, vendors wake up at 4, 5 maybe 6 in the morning to travel to the Bay Front, and set up their stalls with bright and rather interesting decorations and colour.  They hope and pray that they will make a profit and have a good day.

The cruise ship arrives and docks on harbour beneath the blazing Caribbean sun.  Tour buses and trucks line up along the waterfront, competing for the most and richest looking tourists.

The door in the side of the cruise ship opens and tourists file out.  The excited chatter of those who actually get off the ship to explore an exotic island, is heard.   As soon as they set foot on the Boulevard, they are swarmed by bus drivers and tour guides trying their best to coax tourists into exchanging forty U.S. dollars or less for a quick tour to  historical sites in Dominica.

The rest of them (i.e. tourists) saunter along the Bay Front visiting numerous stalls while examining pieces that they might want to buy for themselves or perhaps some deserving friend or family member back home.  They debate whether they should spend ten dollars on a beaded shirt, twenty on a hand woven Carib/ Kalinago basket, three dollars on a Dominican flag magnet or pay another price for some other trinket that they like…or think they like.

They go into Roseau and visit our Grocery stores to buy our rich local foods, or eat in restaurants, or visit the intoxicating Botanical Gardens.  They can take a stroll and relax and soak up the Dominican sun on our black sand beaches.  Then they return to the Bay Front to saunter back unto the ship and await departure.

At 4, 5 or maybe 6 o'clock in the evening a loud deep horn blares almost like the sound of a conch shell being blown to alert locals that fish is being sold.  This is an indication that anyone not on board in the next five minutes will be left behind.  And thus, another day is over, the sun begins to set, and the tourists leave for yet another island.  They congregate on the deck of the ship as it pulls away from the harbour, with cameras and binoculars, and observe Dominica from that vantage point as they leave.

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