Monday, July 27, 2009

On the lip of the volcano

On the lip of the volcano
Originally uploaded by Steve_Mc
I recently climbed the La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent, as part of my informal 'Caribbean volcanoes' series of hikes (see my St Kitts hike).

I have to say: it's impressive. It took about 90 minutes to the top in a gradual climb, initially through rainforest typical of what I'm used to in Dominica. Closer to the top the vegetation clears to become more open, and underfoot it's loose volcanic 'scree'.

And then you're on the lip of the volcano, and a mighty breeze continually hints at the sheer drop on the other side. The view is stunning - the wide crater, the lava dome dead centre, the razor-thin ridge leading off to the south, the steam rising from the side of the dome. All you expect (and hope) of a near-dormant volcano.

Across the crater you can see the trail, and where it goes down, on a rope, into the crater, for the brave only.

We were blessed with generally clear skies and surprisingly, a good mobile signal.

All in all, a highly recommended hike.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Planet Index misplaces Caribbean islands (and is a less happy report because of it)

I'm not Happy. The recently released 'Happy Planet Index' report placed Costa Rica at the top. In previous years, Dominica also placed highly (In a previous report, 2006 I think, we were the 4th happiest place in the world).

So I eagerly downloaded and perused this year's report. Not one mention of Dominica. And in fact, not a mention of other small Caribbean islands. No Barbados, no Antigua, no Greneda. Not even a Caricom or regional grouping that I could find.

Now we're often overlooked because of our size, but we're still a nation state and a UN member (even if we don't always pay our fees on time). But to omit us (and our neighbours) somewhat misses the point. We satisfy all the criteria for a deliriously 'happy' nation (low ecological footprint, high life expectancy, cheap rum, etc.). It's precisely because we're a small nation that we're so Happy.

In fact, if the Dominican Republic is such a Happy country (#2nd place, no less), how come so many of their nationals migrate to Dominica (by whatever means necessary)?