EASTERN CARIBBEAN – DOMINICA
Tips of the Earthbergs
By Jheri St. James
The islands of the Eastern Caribbean are very far away from Laguna Beach, California, and in 2001 we looked at the long list of names—Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kits & Nevis, and St. Vincent & Grenadines—and thought, wow! Collecting these soils is going to be difficult! That was seven years ago. Today we have obtained the soils from each of those Eastern Caribbean islands—six shipments orchestrated by one lady, Juanita Lynch from the U.S. Embassy in Barbados; and one from Dr. Janil Gore-Frances, Ph.D. of the Plant Protection Unit of the Department of Agriculture in Antigua. We sincerely thank Juanita Lynch and Dr. Gore-Frances for their help in obtaining these unique soils from the number one tourist destination on earth. Juanita Lynch sent us this quotation from Frank Collymore’s Hymn to the Sea: “Like all who live on small islands, I must always be remembering the sea.”
Indians were the first inhabitants here and then in 1492 Christopher Columbus became the first European to explore these islands. After reportedly landing in the Bahamas, Columbus named them the Indies because he thought he had finally reached Asia and the East Indies. Numerous explorers followed in his path, then settlers arrived from the Americas and Europe—religious outcasts, slaves from Africa, and a small army of pirates. Great military powers fought for control of the islands, long called the West Indies, now named the Caribbean islands.
This is a large group of islands that separate the Caribbean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean, and are broken into three island groups:
- Bahamas (north)—3,000 individual islands and reefs;
- Greater Antilles (central)—Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico
- Lesser Antilles (southeast)—
- Leeward Islands (Antigua & Barbuda; St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla and Montserrat) and
Windward Islands (Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada, Barbados).
The West Indies Federation, created by the United Kingdom in 1958 consisted of 24 main inhabited islands and approximately 220-230 offshore islands, islets and cays. The Federation spanned across all the island groups in the Caribbean. Most of the islands have mountainous interiors surrounded by narrow coastal plains. As with all British colonies of the period, Queen Elizabeth II was head of state. Jamaica was the first to leave the federation in 1962. After that came Trinidad and Tobago, then Barbados, and finally the West Indies Federation was dissolved that same year. Later in a period from 1966 through 1983, the rest of the islands gained their own independence from British rule, except Montserrat, Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos Islands, Anguilla, St. Kitts & Nevis remain UK territories.
Predicted Topography Gravity Map
The king and the people of Silene converted to Christianity,
George slew the dragon, and the body was carted out of the
city on four ox-carts. Fifteen thousand men were baptized,
without women and children. On the site where the dragon died,
the king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint
George, and from its altar a spring arose whose waters cured
all disease.Traditionally, the lance with which St. George
slew the dragon was called Ascalon, a name recalling the city
of Ashkelon, Israel. From this tradition, the name Ascalon
was used by Winston Churchill for his personal aircraft during
World War II.
As this map shows, the islands are but the tips of the earthbergs—tectonic plates below. We know that 70% of the earth’s surface is water, but under the water is the earth again. The basis of the entire planet is soil of some kind, except perhaps for those mysterious depths of the ocean. Do they go down into inner earth? (No, the water would all go there, too. It might be good to have a drain to alleviate the rising waters associated with global warming!) Regardless, even though ships and boats must travel the waters, and airplanes the skies from island to island, the Eastern Caribbean is all connected at the base, as are all the countries of the earth, regardless of the arbitrary borders, nationalities and politics, which illusory boundaries separate our minds from one another. So as we remember the sea, let us also remember the earth.
* * *
In Latin, the word Dominica means “Sunday,” the day on which this island was discovered by Christopher Columbus. Dominica is one of the youngest islands in the Lesser Antilles, still being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity, as evidenced by the world’s second-largest boiling lake. The island features the most pristine wilderness in the Caribbean--lush mountainous rainforests, home to many very rare plant, animal and bird species--and is recognized as a world heritage site. The Sisserou parrot, the island’s national bird is featured on the national flag. Below is a shot of Rouseau, the capital city of Dominica.
Maybe the boiling lake may is connected to the hole under the waters referred to above! Apparently, it has gone dry and then mysteriously refilled in the last few years. The largest boiling lake is in New Zealand.
The file does not indicate who the collector was for the Dominican soil. One wonders if it was actually Dr. Lennox Honychurch, anthropologist, artist and man with a master’s in museum studies? At this point, it is a mystery, until Juanita Lynch clarifies it. Here are Dr. Honychurch’s words as provided by the nameless at this point collector:
Notes on collection site by Lennox Honychurch:
“The Cabrits Garrison and Fort Shirley, Dominica.
The Cabrits headland is made up of the remains of a volcanic crater on the north-west coast of Cominica that protects Prince Rupert’s bay, the best anchorage on the island. The Cabrits derives its name fro the Spanish, Portuguese and French names for goat. Sailors would leave pigs and goats to go wild on the headland so as to multiply to provide fresh meat on future visits to the b ay. Later it was also called Prince Rupert’s Head after Prince Rupert of the Rhine, who used the bay to repair and refresh his sailing ships in the 1650’s.
“The fortification of Prince Rupert’s began after the Treaty of Paris had ceded Dominica to Britain in 1763. The first small battery appears to have been erected in about 1765. Military engineers identified the site as a strategic post to defend the north of Dominica from the French and for the protection of the Royal Navy when on call to refresh its ships. Major work began under the governorship of Thomas Shirley (1774-1778). Construction of the garrison was a sporadic affair from 1774-1825 with intense work being carried out during periods of enemy threat, particularly during the American War of Independence, the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.
“Although the Cabrits never saw action, it succeeded as being a deterrent to attack on a number of occasions, particularly during the French invasions of Dominica in 1795 and 1805. The most important naval battle in the Caribbean, the Battle of the Saints 12 April 1782, was fought within sight of the ramparts and Fort Shirley was the scene of the famous revolt of the 8th West India Regiment in 1802.
“Although the British undertook most of the construction, the French made significant additions during their occupation of Dominica 1778-1784. Together they amassed a garrison comprising one fort, seven gun batteries, seven cisterns, powder magazines, ordnance storehouses, barracks and officer’s quarters to house and provide for over 600 men on regular duty. With the end of hostilities between Britain and France, the garrison became obsolete and was finally abandoned in 1854. It remained in the hands of the British Admiralty until 1901 when it was transferred to the government of the colony and remained designated as Crown Land until being established as a National Park in 1986.
“Fort Shirley was the headquarters and main defense post of the British army garrison at the Cabrits on the north-west coast of Dominica. Construction began under the direction of Sir Thomas Shirley, Governor of Dominica (1774-1778) after whom it was named. It has a polygon layout marked by two batteries for guns, the lower and upper battery, overlooking the entrance to Prince Rupert Bay. Other buildings are troops barracks, officer’s quarters, kitchens and mess, guardroom, powder magazines, three cisterns, artillery and ordnance stores and the remains of earthworks. The main action there was the revolt of the 8th West India Regiment in 1802 and an attempted attack by the French in 1805. It was closed down like the rest of the Cabrits in 1854, but was used briefly in the 1870’s and the 1920’s as a quarantine station and hospital and later as an agricultural center. Restoration of the fort began in 1982.”
One rarely thinks about warfare when looking at island nations like those in the Eastern Caribbean, but it was after all warfare which brought the British into control of the islands. Even after the UK intended that the West Indies Federation would become a fully independent state, political squabbling among the provinces themselves hampered the success of this project, and the Federation never achieved full sovereignty, either as a Commonwealth or as a republic within the Commonwealth. Finally, Dominica did achieve independence, though, in 1978. Today, it bickers with Venezuela over territorial claims to the sea surrounding Isla Aves, a tiny islet located 70 miles west of the island. So the garrison at Cabrits and Fort Shirley are not a complete “deterrent to attack” on this most wonderful planet of infinite disputes by human beings.
Below is a scan of the paper Mr. Honychurch wrote, which was sent with the soil of Dominica. You will see that he has diagrammed the exact spot where the soil was taken, a gorgeous location, based on the downloaded photos of Fort Shirley above.
The earth is a living entity, constantly changing—tectonic plates moving, icebergs melting, waters rising—and the beings, plant, animal, mineral, who populate Her surface are also constantly in flux—being born, dying, loving and killing each other. Let us hope that the ideology behind the Common Ground 191 project creates at least a small change in the mental state of humanity, an awareness of our unity on the most elemental level, our residence on the soil. Thanks again to Juanita Lynch and the collector of the soil of the island of Dominca in the Eastern Caribbean. The word for peace in Dominica is the English word, “peace”.