Guadalupe Antao Cortez: It felt right, right away
Guadalupe Antao Cortez of Argentina is the proud co-owner of Roots Jungle Retreat near Concord and is even more proud to call Dominica home.
The establishment is a sustainable farming accommodation which, "is an amazing spot," Cortez enthused, "It is really secluded, once you are there you don't want to leave. It's just about nature, you can see and listen to the parrots, the flowing river, this is our little paradise."
And these are among the reasons Cortez and her husband decided to move to Dominica and raise their family here. The couple first visited Nature Isle in 2015.
"We were on holiday but stayed for nine months exploring the island. In fact, we were here when Tropical Storm Erika hit and what can I say? We just fell in love with the place, with the nature and the kind people that Dominica has," Cortez said.
Both are from Argentina's capital Buenos Aires, a city of 12 million and what one would call a 'concrete jungle'.
"So, you can imagine the change; we could walk in nature and just be by ourselves. We went to a beach and nobody was there, for us it was a dream come true. This place really blew our minds," she said.
Unaccustomed to living in a small village, this is something Cortez has grown to love and value, "everybody knows you, it is like your extended family."
Guadalupe shares that she was in awe of the country from the moment the plane was landing at the airport.
"To be honest, from the first time we were on the plane, just before landing we felt something. When the plane comes from the sea you start to see the mountains, then the coconut trees are really close to your window. Then we came directly to Roots and just felt it home from the minute we came," Cortez stated.
The couple, who always wanted to own and run a guesthouse, could not find the ideal spot in Argentina hence they moved to Dominica in 2016 and purchasing Roots Jungle Retreat from the previous owners.
Guadalupe admits the couple works hard but enjoys the sustainable lifestyle, happy to generate their own electricity and have their own water intake.
"We wanted our future children to grow up in a healthier environment, connecting to nature," she said. "The other thing we were sure about is we wanted to live off the grid, in a more sustainable way."
One of the major adjustments to living in Dominica was the change of language.
"In Argentina, we speak Spanish, so the language was the first adjustment," she said. "Also, Dominican English is not the same as the English they teach at school in Argentina. So, you have to get used to the accent and some specific words, but I take my time and I learn."
Guadalupe, who is a strong advocate for entrepreneurship, is impressed with the number of Dominicans returning to the country willing to invest in developing the island. She believes these opportunities must be embraced as entrepreneurship is the way forward.
"They have projects and ideas and are willing to invest in their country. Also, non-nationals like myself are willing not only to work but to bring expertise and opportunities. I believe entrepreneurs, with the necessary support, will be the ones that lead the development of the island in the near future," she said.
The couple is now raising two children at Roots and Cortez uses her passion for nature and love for her children to give back to the community and country.
"I am a co-founder of the Freedom Forest Club, a family-oriented initiative where children from three to twelve get together to learn and play outdoors," she said. "Here, children thrive at their own pace while enjoying Mother Nature. And anyone interested can reach us at email@example.com."
Guadalupe believes the best way to contribute to a country is not through charity but through empowering its people. As a result, she is committed to supporting local and creating opportunities for Dominicans.
- By Andrea Louis