Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dominica June 2006
After complaining terribly about the lack of sailing we have been able to do, we finally had a great sail from the Saints to Prince Rupert Bay. Once we cleared the islands, we set our sails, close hauled in the east winds (10-15knots) and made Dominica in one tack. Since it was Saturday, we had to go to the customs officers home (next to the commercial dock) to clear in. The cost, which was mainly the overtime fee was $25 US. After a quick walk through Portsmouth, which reminded us much of Luperon, maybe a little better, we were off to the Purple Turtle to help another boater’s son celebrate his birthday (local Kubali beer 3.50 EC about $1.50 US for a small bottle)
We have been learning about new weather patterns now, tropical waves and of course there is Tropical Storm Alberto, the first one of the new hurricane season, fortunately which will not affect us. But the tropical wave expected mid week will. So we decided to stay put, since Prince Rupert Bay is a good anchorage. In the meantime we will explore Dominica.
Sunday, we set off for Cabrits National Park. Cabrits means goats, after the goats that the British left on the island to provide meat for the soldiers. Fort Shirley is being restored, a lot of work is being done to maintain this 200 year old fort. But what really is amazing are the ruins of the Douglas Bay Battery, officers residence and commandants house being reclaimed by the immense vegetation. It could be a movie site for another Jurassic Park.
Monday, we rented a car with Tom and Christine from Rock and Roll. The rental guy suggested we go north and east first, as the roads are better coming back from Roseau, especially if we were travelling after dark. So off we went, on roads that twisted and turned, up and down the mountains, banana plants beside us clinging to the steep slopes. Our first stop, Valleyview Bakery. A small hut, where 2 guys were baking bread, commercially. The dough was mechanically kneaded, but everything else was done by hand, and the bread was baked in a stone oven, heated by a wood fire. Of course, it was great, hot and delicious. Next we stopped and picked some bananas at the side of the road, and we were off to the Carib Indian Territory. Here the road is lined with small stands selling baskets, wood carvings, fruits and local food. The old Carib woman at the one we stopped at, gave us a lesson on the local fruits and samples of passion fruit, while the young lad went out and picked fresh papaya from the tree in the yard. We passed a man frying what looked like tortillas, so we had to stop there too. On a broken piece of a cast iron pot on a wood fire the man was frying bread made from cassava (yucca), coconut and sugar…it was excellent. By now it was lunch time and Tom was hungry so we stopped at a small restaurant near a school to try their johnnycake and crab, and chicken.
We started out trek inland to Emerald Pool, another site in the National Park system. (each site costs 5.20EC each, but you can buy a day or week pass) Here we hiked along a wide well maintained path through the rainforest, to the deep, sand bottom pool at the bottom of a beautiful waterfall. We were the only one swimming in the fresh water pool. Apparently the next day would be busier, as a cruise ship is expected into Roseau. We were glad we were doing our trek today.
In order to get to Trafalgar Falls, we had to go into Roseau and back up another mountain, further south. The roads were getting narrower and steeper, with very few opportunities to pass. One would hope that they were one way, but they weren’t. Tom did an amazing job of weaving up and down, around the curves and dodging the other vehicles. We were happy to be in the back seat of this roller coaster adventure ride. Think Christene would have liked to be with us also. Trafalgar Falls consists of two high waterfalls, on two rivers emptying into the same river valley. It is an easy walk to the viewing platform and a more challenging one across the rocks to the bottom of the first falls. Only Tom was sufficiently adventurous to swim across the pool and climb up the falls part way and jump in. We took pictures. None of us were up to the climb to the bottom of the second falls….another time.
We returned to Roseau, and headed north, on the good road. Unfortunately it was after 4 pm by the time we were at the Machoucheri Rum Factory which closed promptly at 3pm, so we were unable to tour it, or buy any rum…something else to do another time. As we entered Portsmouth, we were surprised by the nice apartments around the Ross Medical School. We saw a pizza restaurant, so decided it was dinner time. Here we met a professor from the school, who have their boat in Grenada (on the hard in St. David’s) and they told us all about the school, and what it was like to live in Dominica and what to expect in Grenada.
Back to the boats after dark, very usual for us, but it had been a great day.
The next day, it rained, and rained, not too much wind, but lots of rain. We did laundry, and collected fresh water, and read.