cmcPerched in a bright valley inside the Morne Trois Pitons national park, Crescent Moon Cabins is the ultimate realisation of people living in symbiotic harmony with the world around them. It is a working proof of the vitality that can be gleaned from Nature – if one knows what to look for. Life at Crescent Moon is run by a family team of four – Ron and Jean, their daughter Tiana and her husband David. Through their own efforts and ingenuity they have created a retreat that would make most ‘luxury’ hotels and self-styled eco-resorts go green with envy.

In this overgrown area of Dominica, physically remote to the point of a near isolation, they have trusted to their own skills and expertise to reap a superior eco-experience for the benefit of their guests. The cost of such an intimate relationship, both with our hosts and with the Dominican environment, is the kind of exclusivity that is oblivious to names or prestige. Just four cabins share a near-pristine view of the jungle valley, practically untouched save for the Crescent Moon site and a few neighbouring houses. Indeed, the artificial line between ‘Man’ and ‘Nature’, both an outcome and a necessity of Modernity,has become overgrown with entangling vines and forgotten in the blooming of a rainbow assortment of flowers. The cabins’ structures use only locally sourced hard woods, and are sparing in furnishings and ornaments in a way that evokes a rustic elegance.

cmc2Guests are submerged in the natural world that grows above, below and all around. On my first day I am treated to the sight of a flight of four humingbirds (not the small ones that you find in one’s garden, but the huge, tropical species) on a survey of the flowers hanging down from the rock face. Just a few metres from my door these fantastic birds fan by me, wings throbbing in my ears, to mesmerising effect. One night a tropical storm hit the island; suddenly the valley below lit up, as clear as day in a pale white flash, and the thunderous shockwaves reverberated all around in an awe-inspiring roar. The fogged night glowed as a river of light streamed out from and into the darkness – usually across the horizon but occasionally from higher to lower clouds like luminescent tendrils. Throughout this magnificent yet violent display of natural power the nocturnal birds continued nonplussed, as unnerving (given the circumstances) bird calls came out from the left and right, above and below.

The Crescent Moon Cabins is ideally located near some of Domica’s best sites. It is truly an eco-lodge in that the entire experience – whether it is from the site itself or taking advantage of the trails in the National Park – is completely organic. Between each of the Viveralli family members, Crescent Moon is managed so that it is almost entirely self-sufficient and environmentally sustainable: only the staple crops are from outside the Morne Trois Piton region, with the vegetables being produced – and animals raised – organically on-site or being traded in from local farmers. even the soaps are made from cinnamon and plant oils distilled on-site (and they are much better for it).cmc1

Ron is the consummate chef who can cook a three course meal with far greater finesse than many metropolitan chefs and their lackey-armies can achieve with a single plate. It is not just that he has a superior supply, or that he is using produce and spices that are native to the region, it is very much down to his own flair and training too. The results of his endeavours manifest themselves during expectant evenings while one greedily awaits the next plate – always a surprise in the absence of a menu. The sautéed pineapple cheesecake has to have been one of the best desserts I have had in a very long time – despite the fact that, under normal circumstances, cooked pineapple is one of my pet hates – for the cinnamon-infused flavour that explodes and drips from the pineapple slices like golden nectar.

The goat’s cheese risotto with Portabello mushrooms (and a glass of smooth red wine) spirits me away to the Ligurian coast, or wherever one imagines the pinnacle of Italian dining to be, while the night songs of the birds and the rustle of the palms remind me that I am somewhere far more special. I could go on forever about the organic cuisine at Crescent Moon – from the daily roasted coffee to the freshly squeezed starfruit juice that is a must-try for its sweet and unfamiliar flavour. But it would be simpler to say that it is an experience of discovery, unique at least to the wider world if not also to the cuisine of Dominica.

Living at Crescent Moon Cabins (even if it is a lifespan of just two, fulfilling days) is not about appeasing one’s guilty conscience over the extravagant waste or polluting power of the developed world, nor is it about returning to some idealistic (but ultimately imaginary) era of humanity living ‘at one’ with nature. It is more that there is no clash of technology and nature. These days, Jeanie even has an e-book to read from while she waters in the greenhouse. Overall, the lifestyle is one which advocates relinquishing the toys and ornaments which might have materialistic significance but (as one quickly realises here) only serves to detract from the magic that is Dominica’s environment – on display and ready to sample. It is precisely by being able to forgo the tricks and feints of the urbane that one sees that Luxury can also come from the deep soil, the wandering sky and chance happenings of the flora and fauna just as much as it does from the workings of marble and chrome.

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