Posts Tagged ‘Tour’

A Tourist to Yasur

Sunday, July 7th, 2019
Port Resolution Yacht ClubWe left promptly at 3 pm. I know it’s rather rare in the Pacific where people often refer to island time for appointments. The road was like what one would imagine driving on the Appalachian Trail (AT) is like. W/ described the AT as all Rocks and Roots, This was all lava rock and gullies from erosion. At times we hit 40 kph, but for the most part we traveled about the average speed of a bicycle. An hour later we were at the entrance to Yasur.
 
There we paid our 10,000 VAT each (approx 100 dollar) to visit the volcano. Included was a brief Kava ceremony. There we were asking permission of the local chief to visit Yasur (the volcano). After there was a native dance. 30 minutes later we moved to the next stage.
Yasur
We climbed in the back of a truck to ascend the slope of Yasur. I call them cattle cars. Approx 15 of us / vehicle. W/ was lucky enough to sit in the cab. There she conversed with the driver as well as had a A Disney Like Experienceperfect view of the climb. Along the side of the road there were volcanic vents of steam. Yes; this is an active volcano and as such is actually said to be dangerous. I figured it is no more dangerous than driving down any interstate in the US.
 
20 minutes later we parked, doned our hard hats, received a some more instruction and hiked the last 200 meters to the rim. Already the sulfur smell was present. We could see the steam / smoke rising from the lava field. The guides informed us to use the W side as the E side was randomly bombarded by lava rocks. No one argued with the guide.
A few years ago the tour was shut down when the volcano became more active. Lava was thrown from the pool to the parking lot. Volcanos are rated from 0-5. Zero is for the most part I think inactive and 5 is; holy shit-stay away! Currently Yasur is a 2. At 3 they cancel the tours. I felt a little lucky that we would see it at it’s most active for non volcanologist.
 
At the upper parking lot we could hear Yasur, we could smell it and every few minutes we would see liquid rocks thrown in the air. However we could not see the lava pool form where we were. If one had a drone; for another 10,000 VAT you could fly it over the pool. I wonder how many drones ended up lost down in the lava pool.
 
We toured at Sunset when the views are more interesting. The lava plums light up against a dark background. The darker sky and the active lava creates mother natures fireworks. Friends told us to bring hats, scarves, face mask, and goggles. We did. When they went three years prior they indicated that the dust thrown up stuck to every part of their body. Luckily we were on the up wind side of Yasur. I only had grit in my mouth a couple of times and we never had to wear the face masks and goggles.
We did have layers of clothing on. At the top of Yasur it was blowing about 15 kts and at that altitude (the volcano top), it was quite cool. Two hours later everyone was getting cold. . People started to head down towards the cattle cars and the ride back to the tourist center. The tourist center provided us a few snacks, restrooms and a covered area. There we availed ourselves of the facilities and changed clothes. Ready again for the Disney ride, back to the boat.
 
At Port Resolution we climbed down the steps to the dinghy. We hauled it into the water (the tide is about a meter here) and with a headlamp navigated through the reef out to our boat. How we avoided striking any of the reef at night I can only guess. The tide was higher than when we arrived. Lucky . So far, this has been our best volcano experience and I rather doubt we’ll ever get to see the lava pool any closer. I’m not sure I want to. But like a bug to the flame; one never knows.
 
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Fiasco in Grenada

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Yep, even paradise has a worm in the Apple. And you know what they say about why it’s better to find 1/2 a worm in the Apple versus none; if you find none then obviously you’ve already eaten the worm. Ok, Ok, I know it’s lame.

Truly, the turtle experience reminded me of the book Confederacy of Dunces.  Julie on Sea Otter had contacted Keith about a Leatherback Turtle watching tour. She had arranged for  us to pick up a local sandwich called a Roti and then we would get to the beach head and wait for the Turtles to show up and deposit their eggs on the Beach.  We were informed that there was a 75% chance of having this happen. But it was what we were not informed of that made the trip a mess.

We arrived on time at the marina where the Taxi was to pick us up. We were to be given red flashlights at the beach head and if we had any of our own we were to bring them. The light we are told will not distract the turtles. There we were informed that we wouldn’t be stopping for Roti’s but instead we would stop at KFC (of all places). Fortunately W/ and I had a large late lunch, not sure if we really wanted another Roti. They are good and they’re full of Curry. Curry can only go so far in my diet.

So off we went, taking the Magic Moutain ride through scenic Grenada, we arrived at KFC after sunset.  We ate on the luxurious (not) wooden tables down the street. The town dogs were waiting for scraps, and we ate rather quickly and went.

Then we arrived at the Levera Beach head where there is a small building with some restrooms and a new guide. She tells us a little about the turtles; conflicting some with what we’ve picked up from the internet; oh well, it is the Caribbean. But what concerns us is that she’s already downplaying the possibility of seeing any turtles laying eggs. She also said that most of the season for laying is now over!  Wait; did anyone tell us that before we left for the tour?  In addition she didn’t pass out any “red” lights.  Not good.

We depart the Beach building and head down the road to the beach where some local and imported “researchers” (from Ocean Spirits) are to be doing beach sweeps roughly every 1/2 hour.  They’re to be sweeping from each end towards the middle and then when they see a turtle they’re to call the guide and then take us to the turtle. We’re brought to the beach and deposited to wait. We had been told to bring mosquito spray and blankets for waiting on the beach. At the Levera Beach Center there were some wooden picnic tables and no one could understand why there wasn’t any table or seating out here. This is after all an organized “Tour”. There were also no toilets anywhere around; fortunately no one required any and I guess the ocean would have accommodated any needs.

About an hour into our wait the “researchers” discovered some Leatherback babies wandering around on the beach. They gathered them up; put them in a bucket to show us.  No one from the group was able to go see them wandering the beach or even where the hatchlings came from. We were informed that the “researchers” never found the nest.

After about 10 minutes of everyone looking into the bucket and attempting to take pictures with red lights the guide let them go and they wandered (with some help from a light) to the sea.

Then we waited. The researchers never came back to do a beach sweep.  We waited. After another hour passed by and no beach sweep we were informed that they were tired and wouldn’t be doing another sweep, and also that the park closed at midnight and we had to go. WAIT?  WHAT?

We were never informed of any of this. In fact one site implies that the females don’t often arrive till after 11:30.

Finally after some grumbling (what were we to do) we all climbed in the taxi’s for the ride back. The driver thought if he provided us with some Rum and Coke’s or Carib’s (beer) we would take it much better. That was not to be. And while all the Taxi’s look full size; personally I’m not sure they are. I can never seem to get comfortable in any of them. I was however only awakened once when the driver left the curve of the roadway for a driveway and came to an abrupt; but slightly bumpy halt.

Personally I’m not going on another  Turtle Tour here again until  there are some changes to how they operate. There should be a guarantee that you’ll see what you take the tour for. Oh; I know, it’s Mother Nature and all that, but hell; Sport fisherman in Florida guarantee that you’ll catch fish or you don’t pay them. Fish too are related to Mo’ Nature – No?  The tour operators need to communicate to each other before hand. The Taxi driver said one thing, the guide another and we never even got to talk to a magical “researcher” (which by the way you can pay to become!)

I felt that someone (I don’t know if it was the researchers, guide or driver) figured since we saw baby Leatherbacks then we got our money’s worth. Not in my book!  I want my money back. I know I won’t receive a refund but I can help ensure others don’t fall prey to what I consider an island fiasco.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay long

ps  This hasn’t soured me on Grenada. Just on organized tours that aren’t very organized.  I too will be more cautious here and in other countries.

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.