Looking to Leave Roseau

The Best Things to do in Roseau in one day, DominicaWhile I was in Dominica’s largest city Roseau, which is more like a quaint little capital that feels like New Orleans without the Jazz or the party or the food, I was looking to leave Roseau.

 

While lunch at the Orchard had been incredible, I had been unable to find a quality dinner spot as the city shut down at night. The desire for escape was magnified after my early evening walk presented one man who threatened a few boys (or me) with a cutlass, (I didn’t hang around to find out who), and another man, claiming to be some “honorably discharged veteran from the U.S. Army’s Bravo Company,” solicited me for funds. This second man shouted after me, ran in my direction, gave his entire sad back story, and then begged me for a few dollars, explaining that we were “brothers in Dominica because of our shared patriotism.”

 

When I walked away, something about his story didn’t ring true. Earlier that day, I had learned that Roseau is home to a call center, where Dominicans are trained to handle Time Warner customer complaints, among other companies, with a put-upon American accent. (The next time you call Times Warner, ask about the weather in Dominica.) I considered that the man was a former call center employee, who had lost his mind after (or before) perfecting the accent. (The next morning, I told my driver about the man and he confirmed for me that there was one guy in Roseau who ran that scam. Damn, I’m good, but was also had at the same time.)

 

After those encounters, I wanted out of the dark capital and stood on the side of the road in front of my hotel to hail the bus headed for the quaint village farther down the coast, Pointe Michel. The buses, however, are minivans and there is nothing resembling a schedule. They come when they come and they stop when they’re not filled. The first few passed me by.

 

When I did manage to hail one, I took the seat closest to the door and I was tasked with the responsibility of van doorman. As we continued toward Pointe Michel, the road that I had taken earlier that day appeared unfamiliar without the daylight.

 

After about ten minutes of driving a few passengers yelled “Stop” and, having shifted to an empty seat with less responsibility, I waited for the door to open, but nobody got out.

 

The lady behind me tapped my shoulder. “This is your stop. Kimon’s,” she said and pointed to the Christmas lights encircling a sign that only mentioned that it was a fish restaurant. But like everyone and every establishment in Dominica, the restaurant was better known by its unpublicized nickname.

 

How she knew the fish place was my intended destination, I haven’t a clue. But through good taste or telepathy, she had advised correctly. I handed the driver 20 Eastern Caribbean dollars, expecting to get ripped off, but I received what seemed to be the proper amount for a ride that had no set price. (About $2-3 ECD is the norm.)

 

The stretch of dark storefronts and homes were lit by the moon and the reflections off the sea. Nobody asked me for money or waved a blade overhead. It was already more pleasant than Roseau.

 

Leave Roseau

 

I entered through Kimon’s orange facade into a turquoise and white-tiled bar. A few patrons occupied the stools at the counter; others dined beneath the dangling crab shells and pictures of MLK. There was also a sea-warped illustration of the Last Supper with an all black cast of dining apostles, a misplaced disco ball overhead, and a Clippers-Cavaliers game paused on the television.

 

The menu was simple: a whiteboard only listed dolphin (the fish, not the mammal). When I ordered the fish, it was presented to me as raw hunks of meat in a plastic bucket. I was given a plastic plate with a soccer ball image on it and handed a fork to spear my fish. After jabbing a large steak, the bartender scribbled the cost on a piece of scrap paper–about $8.00 US–and pointed me toward a small port window at the kitchen, where a cook recorded my name and price in a marble notebook, and took the fish and soccer ball plate.

 

Best Restaurant Near Roseau, Dominica

 

I sat down with a few cold Kubuli beers and waited for my order.

 

“Noah,” the lady in the window eventually shouted. My dolphin had been steamed and served in a foil pouch with garlic and onions and “local greens,” the fragrant herbs of the island. On the plate were fried dasheen and green plantains, too. (After they announced my name, “Boa” and then “Nola” were called to get there food. I scanned the restaurant, but no one else seemed to appreciate the rhyme scheme among customer names.)

 

The meal was simple and delicious. An antsy cat kept wandering in and out of Kimon’s, indifferent to the fish carcass under my table.

 

After my dinner, I crossed the street for the four concrete bars situated along the sea. With names like Mama’s, Molly’s, and Carlene’s, it was apparent that the establishments were owned and operated by female entrepreneurs. While Mama’s was busiest, I settled down at Boro La Mer and waited for the older woman in the brightly lit concrete kiosk to finish texting. I ordered a rum.

 

“You tell me when to stop,” said the owner, who called herself Ansoule. She placed a small plastic cup before me and tipped the rum forward.

 

Unsure if I was paying one price regardless of amount poured or not, I stopped her as we reached the pointer finger.

 

It looked as if the bar only served drinks, but a disorganized kitchen was laid out behind Ansoule. Though I saw no food or cookware, I asked if she had a menu. Ansoule walked over to a hidden pot and spooned something into another plastic cup. “Octopus Water” she said, handing me a sample.

 

More delicious than its name, the tender bits of octopus served in a broth with potatoes, carrots, celery, and herbs were, as Ansoule put it, “an aphrodisiac.” She chuckled at this selling point and then spent the rest of our evening paying attention to her phone, I assume to find men on Tinder, having just finished her own bowl of Octopus Water.

 

After my rum, I realized the time. It was nine, when, I had been told, the unscheduled bus service back to Roseau (un)officially ended. I stood on the side of the unlit road, hoping to catch a van slightly behind schedule, but none passed.

 

“Where you going?” an old man asked me.

 

“Roseau,” I told him.

 

“What part?” It was a strange question as Roseau is about ten blocks long.

 

“The closest part.”

 

He rubbed his jaw and told me to get in.

 

The seatbelt didn’t work and I remembered that the man had, like me, just come from the bars. But he drove slow and told me that he was “Thomas Green of the Greens,” which in Dominica is an interesting story. Thomas’s father was a white landowner who had come down to the island, bought property, and fathered twenty-four children. One of Thomas’s brothers followed in that tradition and had fifty-five kids of his own (and would have probably had nearer to 100 had he not gotten himself imprisoned many years ago. (Could this be the crime?) There wasn’t enough time to investigate all of these Green stories; we were back at my hotel in five minutes.

 

I bid Thomas goodbye and went straight to my room, as Roseau did not promise the fish and rum and raconteurs of Pointe Michel.

Posted on by Noah Lederman in I Ate What?, Lost In Translation, Or Bust

One Response to Looking to Leave Roseau

  1. Sam

    A little scary….. Good story

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