Health and Happiness for All- Crescent Moon Cabins (Copyright ©2007)

IslandWhere , December 2007

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These days with all the media hype surrounding the concern of ‘global warming’ and the benefits of being ‘eco-friendly’, Dominica proudly ranks # 8 in the top 10 eco-tourism spots in the world, as well as the only Caribbean destination in the top five happiest countries on earth in the Happy Planet Index (compiled by Britain’s New Economics Foundation).

This comes at a time when eco-tourists are seeking idyllic destinations to retreat and experience a cleaner lifestyle, albeit for a short period of time. How fortunate are we, being the region’s prime environmental destination, and to live the green dream that so many yearn for and travel thousands of miles to enjoy.

Crescent Moon Cabins in Dominica is a quintessential eco-lodge, providing an extraordinary experience to visitors to the nature island. Ron and Jean Viveralli, the owners of this small, family run hotel set in one of the most beautiful parts of Dominica’s interior, take pleasure in giving nature-lovers what they are looking for.

Where possible, the Viveralli’s have used sustainable, low emission and highly efficient materials; from cabins, built with sustainable timber, to low-energy light bulbs and eco-friendly soap in the bathrooms.

As you follow the unrefined path making your way to the Cabins, situated at 1800 feet high, in the foothills of the Morne Trois Piton National Park, you instantly notice an ambient calm and even temperature throughout.

Crescent Moon Cabins is home to the Viveralli family. There, you get the true meaning of ‘mi casa es su casa’, especially with the ‘warm’ welcome from Boris the golden Rhodesian Ridgeback and local mutt, Zamie.

I am sitting in the Viveralli’s dining space and I feel a real connection with the outdoors, surrounded by a panorama of magnificent vegetation and topography and an ocean view in the distance. The land is beautiful and full of activity. “Basically, what sets us apart is that it’s all about eating well here at Crescent Moon”, Tiana, the Viveralli’s daughter confides.

“From tending the goats to watering the greenhouse in the morning, to taking walks by the neighbor’s farms in the afternoon; from start to finish our day is all about what we are going to have for dinner”.

And as you would expect, just as you prepare your meals at home, there is no menu at Crescent Moon, because Ron, your professional Italian-American chef with over twenty years experience, cooks “what is fresh and available from very close by”. As I stroll around the garden, it doesn’t take me long to realize the Viverallis live a self-sufficient lifestyle, with a chicken farm for eggs and poultry, and goats for milk, cheese and meat. However, if you prefer the vegetarian option, you will take comfort in knowing that Ron also prepares his own tofu and soy milk.

Becoming a part of the family means guests get a real taste of eco-living, by participating in chores such as bread-making, roasting coffee, or making chutneys, jams or ice-cream. Organic farming is a big part of the Viveralli’s existence, and you are more than welcome to put your green fingers to use by helping plant seeds in the vegetable garden. You may also learn why farmers are so in tune to the earth’s natural rhythms and why the Viverallis plant according to the phases of the moon.

At Crescent Moon, an organic ‘plus’ system of farming is employed, whereby home produced compost and manure is used to cultivate the land. Also known as biodynamic agriculture, this system encourages bird and insect life, providing a harmonious and sustainable balance in the ecosystem.

Tiana describes Crescent Moon as a “working farm” in which they have adopted a zero waste strategy. However, most of the “greenness” she says, is out of necessity. “We compost because we need the dirt. We keep the dairy goats because we love fresh cheese and the manure also fuels our veggies”.

At this crucial time when water, the world’s most precious resource is under threat from unsustainable use and degradation, at Crescent Moon Cabins “ we use gravity-fed spring water to fill our water system because it tastes better than bottled water and it is conveniently located on our property”.

Just as your hosts know how to make you feel at ease at Crescent Moon, they also ensure that you explore and enjoy Dominica’s beautiful nature. A trained guide takes you in and around the valley and beyond, discovering hidden waterfalls and exploring Dominica’s deep interiors.

On your return to the cabins, you are invited to soak your tired muscles in the bay infused hot tub, suffused by the sounds of the jungle, before you settle down for an evening meal at the family dinner table. As I leave Crescent Moon and begin the drive out of this hidden valley, I feel at peace, calm and in tune with my surroundings, rejuvenated and so grateful for the respite provided by the Viverallis and this ecological splendor.

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