Indian River

Indian River

Dispatch by Delano Lavigne
Photo by Jimmy Martinello

The surging Caribbean Sea gave way to a narrow river coloured darkly from brackish waters as Jimmy, Zach and I made our way up Dominica’s only boat-navigable river, the Indian River.
 
Flowing west from high in the rainforest the Indian River is filled with history, both recent and old. It meets the sea in a long reaching bay that is home to the beautiful coastal town and former capital, Portsmouth.
 
Originally colonized by the French, Dominica was, after seven changes in colonial governance, “given” to the British. During France’s rule over Dominica, the Indian River was one of the most important trade routes of the island; a place where the Kalinago and the Europeans would often trade. Once the British arrived, however, the Kalinago were forced east towards the Atlantic and in turn Portsmouth lost its colonial-economic relevance and the capital was eventually moved south to Roseau. 
 
The Indian River, although no longer used by the indigenous populations of the island, remains a relevant feature on this paradisiacal island and is protected by the government because of its ecological beauty and historical significance, something that the three of us feel very fortunate to experience.
 
We traveled up the river by row boat (motorized transport is prohibited) and, as we have so often been, were stirred by the unique beauty of the river. Yellow, orange and red hibiscus trees line the banks of the river. Yellow-crowned night herons glided low along the water as white, blue, and black fresh water crabs scurried into the their mud dug homes. Blood swamp trees stretched their roots high above the water and laid a thick canopy of shade over the river as we quietly enjoyed our last day on the island. 
 
The river was calm and inspired calmness within us; just like the people of this country the Indian River welcomed us with a predestined certainty manifest by our intention to appreciate the beauty of the island exactly as it is.

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