Unspoilt Dominica

     

Dominica has a river for every day of the year. We chose the most famous and also most nearby: the Indian River. Because of the wonderful root formations famous for its fairy tale atmosphere and therefore used as a decor in some witchcraft scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean films. Of course we have seen these landscapes in Surinam, but not as outstretched as here. Boatboy Fire was our guide and he did all the rowing, as outboard engines are not permitted. The great advantage is that you hear and see birds everywhere, and Fire did his best to brush up our knowledge of tropical birds.

Dominica is a left driving country and the roads are about as bad as in Surinam, so it was P's turn to drive us around. We hired a Suzuki jeep and cruised the southern part of the island. This is where the main touristical attractions are, such as the Trafalgar Falls and the Sulphur Springs, where the riverwater is boiling and bubbles up every three seconds (close your nose). Luckily we were early, as on our return the road was crowded with taxi-buses. They brought hordes of panting and puffing cruise-passengers, to be recognized by their fat legs, brandnew snowwhite or silver sport shoes, bloated red faces and heavy bellies. Cruising seems dangerous.
But despite this cruise tourism, Dominica is extremely unspoilt. As one of our sailing pilots states: the island Columbus would recognize.
Most of the Caribbean islands have one or two vulcanoes, Dominica has six. Surrounded by smaller and bigger mountains rising as pimples from the crust of the earth. The vegetation is juicy green, much lighter than in Surinam because the rainforest is here not even half as high, and with an endless range of green colour.

We can see that there only live 71,000 people on Dominica, because you can drive for hours without seeing a living soul. In the south the mountains are steep and if we already thought that a climb was heavy, the map indicated that somewhere ahead we would encounter a “steep road”. Sometimes if we drove into a valley (call it: gorge), we wondered about the wall that should contain the exit. In short, an adventurous ride. Also because the front tyres of our little jeep had almost no profile.

In the meantime Chantal and André had arrived, a French couple we met on the Canaries (2005). Because Dominica is very worthwile to spend some time, we hired a guide with a mini-bus to show us the norteastern part of the island. This is Carib territory, and for tourists not easy to explore on your own. Buddha (our guide's rastaname) appeared to have grown up among the indigenous so he was the best guide we could think of. Also for our French friends, as his creole father came from Guadeloupe so he also spoke fluent French. What's more, because of his Carib background he could tell us everything about medicinal herbs and plants. Our Surinamese experience was a nice addition so we even could exchange some information. To his surprise!
The Caribs use natural materiel for their art & Craft. We bought a mask that was made from the root ofa  fern tree. It is also the image of our friend Roberto in Surinam, who happens to be a Carib as well.

In the afternoon we visited Morne Trois Pitons (Unesco World Heritage site) naturepark where we made a relaxed walk. This is typical Caribbean tropical forest – trees only 15 meters high and thanks to the abundant rainfall completely overgrown with mosses, ferns, orchids and other parasite plants with huge leaves. Of course we took a swim in the Emerald Pool. Very fresh.

As everywhere in the Caribbean the locals love to make conversation and not only between themselves (the man on the right is not JW but André). By the end of the day they lime on the beach until the sun sets. But we still have not seen the green flash.

We have to rectify a misunderstanding. Everyone seems to think that here in the Caribbean the sun always shines, nice little wind, calm seas, turqoise bays, the cats relax on deck... but none of this is always true. Indeed it is not freezing here and even when it rains we don't have to wear more than a pvc rainsuit (our Musto gear is already long gone), but the weather here can be awful. Even during the small trip from Dominica to Iles des Saintes (part of the Guadeloupe archipel), only 20 miles, we experienced three heavy squalls with 30-35 knots of wind, heavy rain, a wave in the cockpit, hmpf. And under these circumstances also in this part of the world the sea is grey instead of deep blue. And what is romantic about a pretty turqoise anchorbay when there is a swell coming in so the boat rolls all night and even the cats can't sleep. But after all most of the time it is a pleasure to be here so you have every right to be jealous of us.

The kittens. Rita extended her hunting area and is now also into hunting for seaturtles, which we see plenty here. As soon as one surfaces near the boat, she wants to attack and is ready to jump... but always just too late to get a wet fur.

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