Posts Tagged ‘Dominica’

Leaving Eden

Friday, May 14th, 2010

First: as we leave Dominica for a 40 mile trip to Martinique; Dirk and Silvia aboard Lison Life just crossed the equator enroute to the Galapogos. Congrats to the new Shellbacks. Remember we came down from North Carolina with them a few months ago.  They don’t let any grass grow under them; or in boat parlance, don’t let any barnacles get on their hull. 🙂

At Roseau (the capitol of Dominica) we were on a mooring and there was a local on the dock, yelling about the rich cruisers, the cruise ships and what ever else popped into his head. We didn’t like seeing him or hearing about it.

A couple of days before moving to Rosaeu and leaving Dominica we bought a support dinner at the “Big Pappas” restaurant. Alexis came by in his boat and offered tickets of 50 EC each for all you could eat and drink. Since we had planned on donating to the safety cause anyway we figured this would be better as we would get to eat and meet other cruisers too!

And I met two French couples that lived and worked in Guadeloupe. Their English was better then my French and they had a good time laughing at my pronunciations and helping me to correct them while I picked their brains about living and working in Guadeloupe. Maxi was a physical therapist, Blanche, an LD teacher, Ellen a hospice or oncology nurse (never was sure which), and  (Sorry can’t remember his name and can’t find my notes)   an electrician. They all moved from the European continent  to live here and actually said the pay is higher here than in Europe. If only we would have met them as we were going to Guadeloupe! But some things aren’t to be.

After imbibing so much and eating too little we retired to the boat for a full day of recovery.

The following day we took our $30 US cart from K-Mart  and the dinghy to the dock at the base of the river and walked up to their 7 –  11 like store next to Ross University where I proceeded to purchase all their Caffeine Free Diet Coke. (I’ve not had any aboard for a month and was getting tired of ice tea). So we hauled my cache (and some of W/ diet coke) and two bags of ice back to the dinghy and back to the boat where we hung out and spent the rest of the day playing Sudoku, chess, reading, and working on pictures for the blog.

That evening we struck the awnings and prepared to depart Portsmouth for the Capitol of Dominica, Roseau.  We were met by a local from Sea Cat who helped us tie (we didn’t need it) to a mooring where we paid 10 US for the night. We had internet and a slight roll and a “Boat Boy”  (That’s what boaters call them but mostly they’re men between 20 and 40) and this guy made sure to say “Remember to tip the one who helped you with a mooring).  Generally I wouldn’t succumb to this kind of extortion,  but in Roseua we hadn’t heard a lot of cruisers talking highly of it; actually none talked positive in any way so we tipped  him 7 EC.

We discussed leaving the boat but since this was a rather open area, not many boats, weird people hanging around, we decided to stay aboard. An hour or so later we were treated to a rant by an adult male on the docks 100 meters from us. The restaurant we thought about going to didn’t look open,  the dinghy dock didn’t look inviting and as we pondered this some divers took to doing a night dive under the boat and around the boat.  Nervous from the history of the area, of things we’d heard, nervous from the rant on the dock,  and tired of the rolling of the boat on the mooring we choose to stay aboard and leave early the next am.

We had the boat off the mooring by about 6 am and were motoring towards Martinique. In the passage between the two islands we checked into the Coconut Telegraph on 4060 USB on SSD at 8 am and reported our position, and wind and sea conditions.

We ended up sailing about 2/3  the way to Martinique. We motored for  a bit having fallen into the lee of Mt. Pelee, then had a pleasant sail till a squall out of Fort de France bay hit us topping out at around 40 kts.  We dropped sail before the squall struck and motored the last hour to Fort de France where we anchored in 30 feet of water in front of the town right off the old fort.

Fair Winds

Inside Dominica

Monday, May 10th, 2010
The Whole Cashew

The Whole Cashew

We took two tours. One a tour of  the flora, fauna, and geology of the northern end of Dominica, the other a river tour. Of the two, we enjoyed the full day tour the most.

We met at the Purple Turtle @ 8:30 am. We cruised in with Barbara and Tom on Angel of London and met Martin there. He introduced us to Dillon who was to be our guide today. At first we were a little apprehensive as we made a slow start around the shore that we were anchored in.

My notes on this trip cover about 40 pages of loose leaf paper so I’ll do my best to condense them a bit. 🙂  Had I been taking a class here they most certainly would have covered 40 pages but fortunately I wasn’t taking any classes and so didn’t really have any notes.

Once we began ascending the Volcano (there are 8 on the island) we marveled at the views. Dillon would be driving along (fortunately he was driving) the narrow sometimes curvy all the times roads and without much warning come to a halt in the middle, throw the gearbox into reverse and back up the 10-50 yards. There he

A Teachable Moment

A Teachable Moment

would jump out and grab something, a crab, a mango, cinnomon, bay leaves, whatever he saw. Then he’d often have us smell it, sometimes taste it, and most all the time tell us of a recipe his grandmother would use it in. Barbara kept insisting that he needs to make a book of island recipes and sell them on his tours.

Cold Boil

Cold Boil

Inside the culdera of the volcano we stopped for a short 20 minute hike down to the center where cool water boils. The bubbles are sulfuric gasses escaping the volcano and create a slightly obnoxious smell; one I wouldn’t want to live near. Tom and the two girls listened as Dillon smeared the volcanic mud on his face saying that 10 years would be removed from their skins life if they did the same. As my face was thankfully still baby like with my protection of hair I didn’t partake in this ritual. However the 3 of them relished smearing it on.  Then the task came to

Hope this works!

Hope this works!

removing it and there we wandered over to another pool of crystal clear cool water to remove the mud pack and see the results. I’ll let you

26 Right?

26 Right?

be the judge. W/’s always looked to be about 26 to me. 🙂

As we wound around the curves and crossed the narrow bridges with Dillon slowing and honking  at each approach we heard tales of life in Dominica. We learned that the pile of leaves often found at the ends of drives and trails are actually goods that are enroute to  town. There the farmers put their goods to protect them from the sun and rodents and later in the day then pick them up and haul them to market or home. We learned about the time when Pirates of the Caribbean was being filmed here and what the producers ended up doing with the various parts of the island. Roads built down the to sea and then left.  I guess no

Pirates - Road to Nowhere

Pirates - Road to Nowhere

real harm done. Mother Nature will surely take care of them on her own time.

Barbara Tom and Wendy

Barbara Tom and Wendy

We ate lunch on the Atlantic side (we’re anchored on the Caribbean side) and then drove to a Red Rock area that is an old ferrous volcanic flow out to the sea. We enjoyed walking the rocks, looking across the ocean to sea Africa, and talking about Columbus’ landing on this island.

Traveling through the country we discovered that Bananas grown for the European and American markets are bagged in blue. The blue helps to protect them from bruising and predators so they go to market just so perfect.  Funny that we never really see “perfect” bananas on the island that grows them. They simply may be eaten too fast anyway.

Finishing up the day we took a short swim in fresh water about 100 m from the ocean. Sweet! Then as fast as we

Refreshing

Refreshing

seemingly could we  cut back across the country / island and stopped at Ross University (where for some odd reason they don’t have any classes on natural herbal remedies because the rainforest of the island seems to provide plenty) for some money (it was the only bank machine working in Portsmouth today) and then to the grocery store for ice.

Back at the dock by 5:30 pm, tired and ready for a good night’s sleep.

Two days later we were up @ 6 am ready for the River Tour. Our  goal was to see the Parrot that adorns the Dominican flag. This time we ended up with Martin and what an animated guide. But I must say (this ain’t Disney Land) and we never did get to see the parrot. However; we saw 100’s of edible crabs (this is a park and they’re all protected), we saw a Bloodwood Tree that has a root system looking like it grew from Hades and as a consolation prize Martin made parrots out of palm fronds for the gals.  We walked in the woods and found a flower that seemed to be made of wax, we smelled plants and flowers and everything Martin came in contact with became a lesson. All too soon the trip was over (it is only a 2 hour trip), and we were returned to our boats in a mist of rain.

Dominica is probably best described as the land of the Rainbow. Most every day we saw multiple rainbows; often double rainbows. The boat was well washed and we were getting anxious to leave. But touring takes it out of us. So first a day or two of rest then onward, South.

The Lost Eden

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Dominica, land of Eden. Truly the bread basket of the Caribbean. We stopped here en-route to our summer hurricane hideaway, Trinidad. We wish we could have stayed longer but Mother Nature and her fury waits for no one. So we continue our wandering at a leisurely pace south.

I’ve concluded that what we’re doing is merely browsing the islands for later. Really;  we can’t do any of the islands justice by staying only a week or two!  In years past we would travel somewhere and stay as long as our work schedule would allow; usually, about 6 weeks in one place. We found a month or so agreeable to our style,  to seeing the area, meeting people and for R & R (rest and relaxation as opposed to Repair and or Replace).

Providence, aka Martin

Providence, aka Martin

But here in Dominica we stayed for a week. We called Providence (Martin) on the radio as we approached. In Dominica there are men that cater to the boating community and they host land / river tours as well as intercede on keeping others away. So it’s good to secure an individual to refer to for what’s what and what’s where and who’s who.

Martin helped with the mooring as we missed it the first time 🙁  (I wasn’t happy) and we were now secure and within wi-fi range of the Purple Turtle restaurant (which isn’t purple). There they are reputed to have the best burgers around; and maybe that is the case but I haven’t found any burgers in the islands that compare to a good Iowa burger cooked on a grill with all the trimmings including the midwest’s  famous Boetje’s mustard.

In the years past cruisers and the locals that make their livelihood from them have complained to the government about the clearance procedures and how customs and immigration make it difficult for the curisers and thus those that need them for an income;  and ironically,  the government has listened and made the clearance procedures much better. (Note: They’re still not as easy as the French Islands). Martin showed where the office was and offered to take me there but I felt like stretching my legs so I walked. Whew!  It was a long walk through Portsmouth to the

Portsmouth, Dominica

Portsmouth, Dominica

commercial dock where the office is located. A long walk!  There I cleared in for 13 EC  (Eastern Caribbean Dollars).  Luckily I walked by the bank and was able to change some more money.  I let W/ know that she had the good end of the deal.

Since we had a  wet ride down from the Saintes we were now  hoping for rain and were soon sweetly rewarded with a natural rinsing of the all the Salt off the boat. In Dominica it is reputed to have two seasons, wet and dry. During the wet season it rains all the time; during the dry season it rains …… most of the time.

With the boat rinsed from it’s now daily shower we spoke w/ Martin about a land tour. Dominica is becoming known for eco tours and we had heard from Lison Life that a tour was not to be missed. (But they never did offer to pay for it for us –  LOL).  We received some info from Martin and emailed Angel of London (Barbara and Tom) who were coming the next day or so  hoping that we would share the trip.

That evening we settled in a  restful night on the water. Flash; another boat had been in Dominica a few months earlier and told us of a boarding so we were a little concerned. We had asked Martin about safety and he said they’re aware of the issues and the community has hired a security patrol to keep an eye on this end of the bay and the boats during the night. We kept our ladder up, and one eye was on full alert;  but we had no need.

We slept well and in the am all was as it should be.

Fair Winds