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11.3 Sights of Roseau

Sights are places where tourists go. They are the places that are described in travel brochures and guidebooks. Tourists go there because guidebooks write about them, and guidebooks write about them because tourists go there. In this study, eleven guidebooks are analysed to know the sights where tourists should go in Roseau. 32 visitors are surveyed by e-mail to discover which sights they actually visited (see
Appendix 2 for survey form and Appendix 3 for information about the answerers). The analysed texts include two books on Dominica (Honychurch 1991; Philpott 1996), Dominica sections of four guidebooks covering several Caribbean islands (Millman 1998; Cameron & Box 1993; Bendure & Friary 1994; Doyle 1995), three annual travel magazines about Dominica (Discover 1997; Destination 1999; Dominique s.a.) and two internet sites about Roseau (Dominica 1998; Gründel 1998; detailed information about guidebooks in Appendix 4).

All the sights of Roseau that were described in at least three of the guidebooks studied are presented in Table 3 (see also Fig. 44). Description, however, carries more weight than a mere referrence. Description is descriptive, i.e. it tells something about its object. A referrence is just a note of existence. The descriptions and references in the guidebooks are compared with the mentions (including descriptions) that the same sights had in survey. This showed that the guidebook list is complete: no other sights were mentioned by more than one visitor each. Actually, the list is overcomplete since many of the sights that it contains got no mentions by visitors. Besides, the sights described most carefully in the guidebooks are not always the sights appreciated most by the visitors.

The most important sight of Roseau is clearly its Botanical Gardens (see Fig. 45). It is described in ten of the eleven analyzed guidebooks and mentioned in all of them. This is not a surprise since the area of the gardens covers almost one fourth of the Inner City. The beauty and lushness of the gardens is admired in guidebooks but, however, mostly in past tense. The gardens have suffered from hurricanes, especially from the Hurricane David in 1979. Guidebooks authors disagree on how well the gardens have survived. According to Philpott (1996: 64), "[W]hile perhaps not in their original glory, the gardens have survived remarkably." Cameron and Box (1993: 520) mention only the destruction, and nothing about recovery. Most pessimistic is Millman (1988: 230). He writes that Dominica's Botanical Gardens "must be the only such place in the world less lush than its botanical surroundings." On the other hand, it is certainly possible to read this expression also as an homage to Dominican nature. Millman's description is also the earliest one of those analysed, and therefore closer to the event of destruction in 1979.

Visitors are not as critical towards the gardens as the guidebook authors. The gardens are said to be a "quiet place with a nice view" (female, Austria). Most of the visitors seem to appreciate the gardens, since there is only one negative note about them in the survey: "[T]he botanic parc is not so nice as people will tell you" (male, Belgium).

Table 3. Sights of Roseau.

                          GUIDEBOOKS                                 SURVEY
                           1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11  total*   pos. neg.
 1. Botanical Gardens      x  x  x  x  o  x  x  x  x  x  x   10/1      10    1
 2. Market Place           x  x  x  x     x     x  x  x       8/-      13    1
 3. Old Market Place          x  x  x  o  x  x  x  o  x       7/1       2    -
 4. Bay Front                 o  x  x  x  x  x  o     x  x    6/2       9    2
 5. Morne Bruce               x     x  o  x  o  x     x  x    6/2       3    -
 6. Cathedral                 x     x     x     o     x  o    4/2       -    -
 7. Fort Young                x  o  o     x        x  o       3/3       1    -
 8. Anglican Church           x     x     x        o  o  o    3/3       -    -
 9. Public Library            x     x     x        o          3/1       2    -
10. State House               x     x     o        x          3/1       -    -
11. Dominica Museum                             x     x  x    3/-       -    -
 1 Millman (1988)                7 Discover (1997)            x = description
 2 Honychurch (1991)             8 Dominica (1998)            o = mention
 3 Cameron & Box (1993           9 Gründel (1998)
 4 Bendure & Friary (1994)      10 Destination (1999)         * descriptions/
 5 Doyle (1995)                 11 Dominique (s.a.)             mentions
 6 Philpott (1996)

The sights inside Botanical Gardens mentioned most often are parrot aviary, cricket ground, and a crushed schoolbus. None of them seems to arouse any enthusiastic descriptions either from the guidebooks nor by the visitors. About the aviary it is said, for instance, that "three bored jacquot parrots and one sisserou live in cages in the park" (
Cameron & Box 1993: 520). It is worth of mentioning that these parrots are endemic only to Dominica. Sisserou, or imperial parrot (Amazona imperialis, see Fig. 46) is one of the largest parrot species in the world, and jacquot, or red-necked parrot (Amazona arausiaca), is not much smaller (Bond 1993: 110).

Schoolbus which was crushed by a fallen baobab tree in 1979 is left in the gardens to demonstrate the destructive power of nature. It is mentioned in several guidebooks. On the northern edge of the gardens lies a cricket ground which is said to be most popular in the 1960s and early 1970s and been visited twice by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Phillip (Discover 1997: 12). Philpott (1996: 64) informs us that "[t]hey are still used today for some cricket matches and official ceremonies."

From Botanical Gardens there leaves a track called Jack's walk up to Morne Bruce. Nevertheless, most visitors use small buses to reach the viewpoint (see Fig. 63). The view is appreciated by both the guidebook authors and visitors that answered to the survey. "I like Morne Bruce - it has excellent view over the town and the Caribbean (male, United Kingdom)", said one visitor. In addition to the view there is a crucifix and ruins of an old British garrison to see on Morne Bruce. Thomas Atwood (1791: 188-189) says that there was a fine stone cistern built by the French before they blasted it when ceding the island to the British in 1761.

In the number of descriptions the two market places of Roseau come right after the Botanical Gardens. Range of products and market activities are widely presented in the guidebooks by words and photographs. According to Philpott (1996: 58), the Market "is where everything seems to happen during the day." Visitors mentioned the New Market more often than the Botanical Gardens. Only one of them (male, US) said not liking the selling of raw meat there the other descriptions being neutral or positive. One who said always liking the markets describes Roseau Market as "[c]olorful, with people doing important exchanges, including social" (female, US). Another says that "it was wonderful to see all the fruits and people" (male, US).

Descriptions of the Old Market (Fig. 47) are less enthusiastic. The guidebook authors mention that there are stalls where people sell handicrafts, and some authors tell about its history as a slave market. The Old Market was seen as a touristic and commercial place where the only local people are vendors. While fourteen of the visitors mentioned New Market only two mentioned the old one. Both of those mentions, however, are positive. One possible explanation for that is that sending the survey to those having visited the Boiling Lake cruise ship tourists were practically excluded from the study. Most of the visitors to Old Market, however, come by cruise ships. When there is no cruise ship in port the square is deserted (see Fig. 58).

Both market places are on the Bay Front as are many other sights of Roseau, too. Bay Front itself is one of the most popular sights in Roseau. It has been a subject to a considerable facelift in the early 1990s. According to Bendure and Friary (1994: 175) 'Roseau's waterfront [--] has undergone a decade-long reclamation and now has a new promenade with a good view of Scotts Head to the south.' Philpott (1996: 57) says that building a new seawall 'greatly enhanced the waterfront area'.

For visitors the Bay Front is a place to watch either the sea or the activities of the city (see Fig. 49). 'I like the area by the seawall; I'm always happiest looking at the ocean' (male, US). It is '[n]ice to sit on the wall and watch what's going on' (female, Austria). There were also two visitors that disliked the Bay Front. One says: 'It's too big and pretentious. Except on Independence Day I mostly saw it quite deserted. There's no shade, and, as the saying goes, only white people and donkeys walk in the sun' (male, Germany).

The Dominica Museum (Fig. 47) has moved just lately from Canefield to the Bay Front. It is therefore described only in the most recent guidebooks. The museum occupies the upper floor of the tourist information office. It is opposite to the cruise ship berth, on the side of the Old Market. In Destination (1999: 71) is told about it: 'Constructed in 1810, it was once the post office and is now a fascinating place to revisit the island's past.'

At the southern end of the Bay Front is Fort Young, a British fortification converted to a hotel. Building underwent extensive destruction during Hurricane David in 1979, and Gründel (1998) states that hardly a stone was left unturned. According to Honychurch (1991: 49), although 'much of the historic fabric has been smothered in the concrete [--], one can still get a hint of the line of its ramparts and recall its turbulent past.' Atwood (1791) describes newly constructed Fort Young being well equipped but does not consider its military value too remarkable. '[O]wing to its bad construction, only two or three cannon in it will bear on any particular object ; and it is, besides, entirely under command of all the other batteries of the town on the hills above it' (Atwood 1791: 188).

Further south is the Public Library, situated in a wooden building with large verandahs. Between the library and Fort Young hotel is the Cannon Ball Tree, last remnant of the first public gardens of Dominica. Across the lawn is the Victoria Memorial Building, nowadays used by Dominica Broadcasting Services' office.

Opposite Fort Young is St. George's Anglican Church. According to Honychurch (1991: 49), it was originally built in square Regency style in 1820, but its present shape is due to later enlargement and rebuilding after the Hurricane David. The Roseau Cathedral is on a hill between Virgin and Turkey Lanes. Honychurch (1991: 53), for instance, says that it is built of cut volcanic stone in the Gothic-Romanesque Revival style, and its completion took over a hundred years, and was finished in 1916.

Although highly visible in the cityscape of Roseau, neither of these two churches was mentioned by any visitor answering to the survey, nor was any other church. No more interest seemed to be aroused by the State House, former Governor's residence used nowadays for state receptions. It has large gardens around it the gate of which is usually locked.

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