Tuesday, 20 May 2014

How to Start Your Own Small Business in Dominica

Are you worried about working in Dominica? Are you entrepreneurial? Are you in Dominica for a given amount of time but still want to be self-employed? Would you like to start a small business in Dominica? Well you can and legitimately. Here are the basic steps:

1. Visit this website to get informed on the necessities for registering a business in Dominica CIPO - Companies and Intellectual Property Office

2. Contact the CIPO office to review your choice of business name. They will verify the name or suggest any changes. The CIPO office contact is on the web page listed above. They are very nice and willing to assist.

3. Go to the e-filing tab to fill out the particulars of your company before visiting the office.

4. Visit the office in Roseau at the address listed on the page. You can have your forms printed and signed in the office before visiting the court house to pay your registration fees.

5. Take your receipts to the Court House on Water St. to pay for your company registration and for the fancy paper that your forms need to be printed on.

6. Return to the companies office to give them your receipts.

7. Wait. For a while. 3-5 business days may mean much longer. You can always call them to check-in. The employees at CIPO are very kind and will likely remember you.

8. Once you receive your phone call that your company name and number has been processed, return to Roseau to pick up your certificate.

9. As maintenance, at some point during tax season, you will need to visit the Inland Revenue Office to pick up your tax forms. This office is on the street past the White House. Take a left and it will be on your left hand side. Meet with the employee that deals with company taxes and he will give you the form that needs to be filled out and returned in person.

Annnnndddd folks...that's about it!

I do have to mention that it took me a good 6 months to figure all of this out, so from the bottom of my heart, I hope this simplifies the process for at least some of you out there!

Good luck, and do send me a message if you have any questions. You CAN do this.

Love and Peace to All!!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Living Green in the Nature Isle

From a distance, one might assume that an island with the tag "the Nature Isle" might be one with more sustainble-green-ecological goals at the forefront of its culture. In some ways, yes, the people of Dominica are quite proud of living at one with nature. The people adopt practices that are very green, so much so, that they may even be out of my comfort zone as practice. Things such as river baths and bush medicine, I am open to try, and have, but I just haven't been able to kick my old shower and hot water heater habit. And, while I have been reading up on how to concoct healing remedies Rastafarian style, I haven't yet taken to the bush with the machete looking for the wildest most healing of herbs, grasses, and barks. According to a book that I have been reading, the most healing finds are the ones that grow wild, and I totally accept that. Still, I prefer my pre-bottled bug repellent (while it is made in Dominica and from the herbs and ingredients sourced as locally as possible......they may have been farmed though, darn).

This afternoon, as I stopped my bike to drop off our trash in the bins outside of Kootney, I noticed that almost all of the bins were filled to the brim. The one with some room had brand new empty gallon water bottle jugs nicely propped atop the black trash bags, tops on, no dents, no damage. Contrast that to a recent phone conversation I had with my sister-in-law in Finland who was expressing her excitement that she had virtually no trash for her landfill bag. Although Dominica doesn't have advanced trash disposal and separation systems, we can still do our part to lessen our impact in Dominica and for the Earth in general.

So...here are some tips for us Ex-Pats, used to the recycling systems of the states but unaccustomed to the ways of lessoning our "carbon footprint" in a new culture.

1. Re-Use your water bottles!

No excuses people. Water is free on the Ross campus. Buy as many jugs as you would like to have on reserve from your local grocery, and then re-fill them until the bottles are deemed too banged up to continue use. It will save you $$ AND plastic is a big problem. There is one landfill on this small island, why must we fill it up with perfectly clean and sturdy water jugs?

Oh.. and did I just assume that all people carry a sturdy reusable water bottle for individual consumption? If you don't already, please do. Its a smart and easy way to save money and keep hydrated.

If you are not a member of the Ross community, there are many water sources in the rivers of Dominica that are drinkable... if you're curious, please ask, I'll be happy to elaborate more on these tips to finding/making water clean and drinkable without having to constantly buy new plastic water bottles

2. Buy compostable trash bags.

"Mr. Green" makes a biodegradable trash bag that can be purchased in a variety of sizes at IGA and Hong Kong market in Picard and at Astaphans in Roseau. Why fill up the landfill with plastic that may never decompose or risk that plastic to drift out to sea when there is a biodegradable alternative.

3. Bring re-usable grocery bags to the store and market.

In Paris I was laughed at by the grocery store clerk for not having my own bag to place my groceries, and that was in 2005... US stores are giving incentives to bring your own bags. Anyone seen the Portlandia short: "No bag on aisle (whatever it was)?" Well why not extend this same habit here. You will most often have to lug your own groceries some length of a distance down a road, in the heat, or up a hill. You will be helping yourself by bringing a bigger and easier bag to lug.

4. If you have to take plastic bags from the grocer, re-use them.

Use em for your small trash bins.. or to collect compostables that can be later disposed. Coffee grounds and tea leaves have great nutrients for the soil. Collect em and dispose in the yard.

5. Use dishtowels, less paper towels.

Okay, so paper towels are biodegradable, but they can get expensive... they are packaged in plastic... plus that whole production process to get those things to your home is lengthy. Use less paper towels by stocking up on dish towels and surface cleaning sponges.

6. DIY/Kitchen aisle some of your most used household cleaners and beauty products - Laundry detergent, Shampoo/Conditioner, body lotion, deodorant..

One might be surprised how versatile baking soda, vinegar and coconut oil can be! I am going to have to write a separate post just on this topic, but in the mean time, Pinterest home made natural alternatives to your most used items, you will find a wealth of information. And for shampoo/conditioner alternative, google the "no poo method."

7. Buy/Find Local

Lessen your carbon footprint by buying products made in Dominica. Consumer products have to make a big trek to reach this tiny island in the sea... why not contribute to this economy by researching and finding local products? Bello is one brand that is produced in Dominica and sells grocery items. There are a number of Dominican soap companies, and the Saturday markets in both Portsmouth and Roseau have all you need in produce, coffees, teas, oils, herbs, and spices!

8. Eco/Organic Products can be found

Fresh Vitamins in Roseau and inside of IGA sells organic. Also, IGA, Astaphan's, and Jolly's stock organic products on their shelves. If the product says "Bio" it is organic. Just so you know to look out. The companies that produce these items emphasize their impact and are required to pass measures to achieve organic or bio status, making them more trustworthy than other products on the market.

9. Bring your own containers to the shacks.

Most shacks serve their food in styrofoam. Uh oh.. styrofoam is a majorly distressing product for me. It doesn't biodegrade ever. It emits a gas when broken. Fishies can choke on it (okay I don't know for sure, but a sad image none the less), and I have found tons of styrofoam trash in the gutters here.. which will eventually be carried out to the ocean where who knows what its impact on the reef and ocean-life are. Bring plastic reusable containers to the shacks and they will even give you a discount on your meal! Also, there is a washing station next to the picnic tables where you can clean them out when you're finished.

10. Re-use your containers, glass and plastic.

Tupperware is expensive here and glass jars can't be found for purchase. Save your yogurt containers to store food leftovers. Save glass peanut butter and jam jars to do the same, or for pickling! Or for making your own jams at home with all the fresh flavorable fruit from the island! Or for salsa.... or for anything!

11. Feed your compostable food scraps to the lizards and birds

I just throw my cooking food scraps into the bushes for my lizard friends... but I don't cook with meat. So my advice is throw none meat compostable food scraps away from the house but in the yard if possible. I have some friends who make bird feeders out of coconuts, too. The birdies love to eat the less desirable parts of fruit... seeds.. skin.

12. Generally try to avoid plastic and styrofoam plates and utensils.

Bring your own dishes to a pot luck. Compostable products are also available on the back shelves at IGA and other stores around the island. Seek 'em out.

13. "Give & Go" at the end of each Ross semester.

There is a relatively new charity on the Ross campus that picks up items at the end of each semester before people leave and especially so usable items don't get thrown in the trash. Why wait 'till your time has come to leave the island. A clean house is a serene house.. do a little cleaning at the end of every semester and donate your things to Give and Go.. and you can also make a few bucks by selling some things on Craigslist.

14. Bring your plastic and paper recyclables to the Ross campus. 

There IS a recycling plant in Roseau, and there IS a truck that has been designated to stop by the Ross campus on a weekly basis to pick up recyclables. Let's live by example and make sure this system is put into use. Bring your plastics, papers, and glass recyclables to campus and dispose in the properly marked recycling bins. Maybe you will want to ask around campus to ensure that others know that this system is being used, and to know that you do care that it DOES Work!

Do you have some tips? Any measures you take to live a little more green in Dominica? Please, do share! We can all benefit from the wisdom of our community.

 Let's live by example and see how far our impact can reach!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Musing Dominica

I remember it well, being back in New York and musing over life in Dominica. I remember mentioning to my MBA colleagues at Baruch about a potential move to the Caribbean for my (at the time) boyfriend to attend Ross. . I remember their reactions: "Oh my gosh, you should go!" or "how amazing," and "I wish I could move to a Caribbean island."

The fact that this became real, wow, I just never really thought it was going to happen. This is what Steve and I wanted, and as I look back I realize life really can become what you dream. Of course, in those distant-far-off-fairytale-like dreams, we never remember to insert fault and difficulty, but nevertheless, I believe that if you can dream it you can achieve it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is why we should be careful what we dream.

So we moved to Dominica in April, but didn't even really know that this was the plan come December. We decided to finalize our decision by January as we would be headed off to India for 7 weeks and needed a solid idea of what we would do when we returned. Post marriage, post India... back in the Catskill mountains of New York I scheduled flights and made arrangements, apartment searched online, and signed a lease. I daydreamed about what life on this tropical island paradise would be like. I read about the 365 rivers, 12 major waterfalls, and 1 boiling lake. I relayed information about the indigenous people to my friends and dreamt about the many fruit trees. What would I do there? Where or how would I work? I had many ideas about what my life was going to look like in Dominica while also attempting to keep an open mind.

Making arrangements for Dominica - that white is snow

This was my dreamy, far away, surreal projection of life in Dominica:

I would sew. Not sure what, maybe finally I would attempt some decently wearable clothes!

I would snorkel and swim and my heart and mind would be infinitely soothed by underwater silence, bright colors, and mother nature's mystique.

I would teach yoga. I would practice yoga. I would meditate. I would lead meditations, silent walks on the beach and early morning beach meditations.

I would go on nature walks with my friends. I would have time for friends!

I would explore the native culture of the island. I would investigate basket weaving. Maybe I would learn, or maybe I would facilitate a relationship between the Santa Fe Folk Art Market and basket weavers from Dominica.

I would further my knowledge of essential oils. I would learn about the process and what was available on island. I would study my new aromatherapy book... or at least use it as interest arose.

I would cook and learn to use a crock pot and experiment with Caribbean cuisine.

I would read.

I would ride my bike.

I would hike.

I would explore the hot springs.

I would take care of my love.

Would I finally be able to learn and practice fire poi?


These were my dreams as I remember them. It is interesting reflecting back in comparison to snap shots taken once on island. Some of the dreams have taken root, woven, twisted, and taken form as something new. Some of them have become nothing more than a few hours or days of attention. Some have evolved into thriving practices, experiences, and relationships. None of them exactly as I imagined. However, most of what I dreamt, I did feel into existence.

And what do I mean by that? How did I feel my dreams into existence? Some very sage words of advice now arise from my memory. About 2 years ago, I was having a conversation with our friend Pranava at the Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas. Who really knows what we were talking about, but whatever it was brought this from him: (paraphrasing from memory) "It is not so important imaging what we want for the future, but instead projecting what we want to feel in the future." Yep. I digested that and didn't forget it. I used it and it has served Steve and me very well. As I thought of Dominica, I projected feelings of love, contentment, peace, surrender, happiness, and companionship. I have achieved these sensations of the heart. By doing this, and in looking back, I am not disappointed in what I have not done or have not been able to do, but I am satisfied that I have continually sought these positive states of being.

I recommend this practice to all. When you think of tomorrow, think of love. When you think of your next job, feel contentment and success. When you think of success, feel all your most positive associated emotions. When you think of your life down the line a few years out, imbue happiness and peace. This practice is truly powerful and rewarding.

I want to close by saying that life on island now is better than ever. I am blown away by all the many special moments and experiences I am having. Of course, I am making a conscious effort to engage in the the ways I want, but it is paying off. A place between intention and surrender. Life is sublime.

Love to all, Peace to all.

Om Namah Sivaya.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Life in Semesters: Part Deux

I left you with a return from Miami. Well, rest assured that in the short period that I was back in Dominica before heading back to the states for the holidays was an exciting one. Our house was robbed a few times by some local kids who were up to no good. At first I was scared, but once I learned that the youngest of the team, and the one sent through the window was a mere 9 years old, I was just sad. This explained the missing freezy pops and the tosstled chocolate chip cookies in the fridge. You know, unfortunately for me, I lost a bicycle seat, but much worse for that young boy is how he is being influenced by his elder peers in such formative years. To take from others, to invade privacy, to deceive a Ross student by asking to use his bike pump as an opportunity to find what more could be his. I laugh when I think of the missing freezy pops, but I tear up to think of that boy's situation. Thankfully, everyone was caught and got their admonishment. Most of our property was recovered, and security was increased at our place. In the end... what can you do? As a wise yogi friend once put it... the question is not why did they steal from me, but rather why did I steal in the first place? This is just the ripening of a karmic fruit.

Not long after, Steve was finished with his exams and it was time for us to travel to Texas for the holidays. It pained us to leave kitten behind for more than 3 weeks, but I was looking forward to a little change of scenery and the chance to spend some time at home with my family. Christmas is always festive with my mom! So we boarded our two planes (of course successively), and it was by a stroke of grace that we made it home in one day without any issues and with all of our baggage in hand at IAH.

Christmas time was enjoyable as we scooted around Houston to watch/listen to various performances of Handel's Messiah, went to the movie theater, and took long epic walks through a city that is much-too-rarely walked about. We were overwhelmed by the amount of driving that was required. And the shopping...well...it was Christmas time, so on a few occasions we felt ourselves drained. Most importantly though, Steve and I got to spend almost all of our time together. Although we've been together - so to speak - in Dominica, he has really needed to focus on school, while I've been up to other non-medical-school things.

But our highlights were definitely our time with nephew Magnus - and his parents of course ;) - and our trip to Austin for our anniversary, a city that just suits us and nurtures our outdoor spirit.

Now, the photo story:

Morning cup at the lake house

Christmas performance going

At the Wortham for the Nutcracker Ballet

Shoes donated by Mom's friends to take back and distribute in Dominica

A little turtle watching at the Arboretum Nature Center during a walk from the parent's house

Visit with baby V at the Valero's house

Mom's new house at Christmas

Christmas dining room

Our first Magnus meal out

Magnus and parents 

Visit at Kemah Boardwalk

Austin for a little Anniversary getaway

Exploring for dinosaur tracks


Faberge Exhibit at the Museum of Natural Science, Houston

Magnus Photo Shoot at Herman Park

Memorial Park Driving Range

Magnus meets cows for the first time

Babyy Baby Magnus

Annnd curtain close.