Friday, June 23, 2017

Dominica - Just Scratching The Surface

The arrival of more cruising boats made it affordable enough for us to hire Young Alexis for a Full Day Tour of the island.  After days of waiting and thinking it wasn't going to happen... we finally loaded up the van and set off to see what we came here for!

Leaving Portsmouth and traveling east along the northern coast of the island, we were immediately wrapped in the arms of the jungle.

It rains almost every day here and you can almost SEE the growth of the vegetation alongside the narrow roads.

Many small homes dot the hillsides in the rural areas.  Humble homes...
With stunning views!

The road disappears around the corner and down the hill
Alexis stopped to show us along a narrow pathway to a secret coastal view.  We would never have known about this spot if we had just rented a car!  I have SO many pictures taken along the way but they don't show the depth of these visions.

We stopped briefly at a tiny fishing village along the way...

Next stop - Ruins of the Hampstead Estates Sugar Mill on the northern side of the island.

This structure dates back to the 1700s when Dominica was first being colonized by the British and remains a testament to their ingenuity.

Imagine there being no charge to wander these quiet grounds where so much history has survived time and nature.

The old boiling pot lies forgotten

The 24 ft diameter cast iron waterwheel still stands...

Young Alexis found a coconut that was ripe for coconut water.  Having left his machete at home... he used a big rock to beat the husk off of the inner nut, and then continued to whack it until he got it open for us!

Mmm FRESH coconut water!
This palm doesn't look so friendly...  Look closer...
Thorns all around!  I think they call it a Gri Gri palm
We took a little stroll up the road to the bridge passes over the Hampstead River which once powered the mill.

Humble but neat and clean...

High on our list of requested stops was the Pointe Baptiste Chocolate Factory.  Imagine our immense disappointment when we learned that the owner and Chocolatier was off island for a family emergency.

We got a much abbreviated tour... more of a look around.  The property was lush with many kinds of fruits growing wild.

How about a Bequia Plum!


Fermenting boxes...
Drying tables lying unused...
I found this video that takes you on the tour!

Last stop, the chocolate bar store!  I stuffed my pockets with three delicious flavored bars!

Bananas growing along the road
Another of the 365 rivers
Back on the road once more, we headed around to the eastern side of the island where to see the Kalinago Reserve. 

By this time we were beginning to wonder when we would have lunch... A casual offer to stop for some traditional Cassava Bread was well received!  
The Cassava bread store

I won't go into the history of the indigenous Kalinago people, if you wish to learn more and see a very nice video, you can check out this website.   

As usually happens, when new lands are "discovered", the people already living there were pushed onto reserves.  It seems that the Kalinago, or Caribs as you may know them, are doing very well at maintaining their culture and preserving their history here on Waitukubuli.  The word meaning "tall is her body" was the original name of the island before she was renamed Dominica by Christopher Colombus in 1493.

Enjoy our tour in pictures.

Our guide was knowledgeable about the many trees and plants growing on the reserve.

Traditional Canoes

A large meeting space built from the land
Mango Season!  They littered the ground and rolled into the gutters

One of several traditional types of shelter
Large cassave roasting kettle
This man was once a Chief.  Their Chief serves for a number of years like our President.
Now he makes beautiful Calabash art

Seems a pleasant hobby for the retirement years
constant winds cause the trees to grow strangely on the mountainside

Canoe in progress

Walking beneath the walking tree

Basketweaving in the traditional way

Picking out one of very few souvenirs I have bought
The Carib Territory was fun... but we're starving.  This is about where our tour took a zag, when we should have zigged...  

Evidently not only is it difficult to find enough Cruisers to fill out a tour properly during low season, but it's also difficult for the tour guide to find businesses open!  

The restaurant Alexis normally takes his groups to was closed for vacation...  He had to scramble to find a place that could take us.

Restaurants here are not like they are in the US.  They don't just have endless supplies of food and stay open all day.  Here they cater to a smaller crowd and waste is not an option.  They have a limited menu and limited amounts of the foods on the menu...

Alexis pulled over and ran in to see if the Seabreeze Inn Restaurant had enough food for the eight of us.  He returned with a smile... They could feed us but there was only one choice... Chicken... and it will take a while.

We'll take it!

The view

Lunch took some time to prepare...but we didn't mind.  At this point we were just lucky to get food at all!  The meal was simple, chicken legs, rice, potato salad, plantain, salad... the usual traditional island fare. It was good and filling and we were revitalized and ready to continue.

Unfortunately our intended destination, Syndicate Falls, was too far from where we were now... so we diverted to Emerald Pool.

We followed the earthen trail in the rain forrest... down, down the side of a ravine to the bottom where a small river flowed. 

I think we found a Hobbit House

I swear there was a creature staring out at me!
Strange, tiny, waxy looking flowers

Lookin up at a Tree Fern

Ahhh we made it!

The rest of our group were already down at the pool below the falls by the time we arrived.  I was so busy snapping photos they all passed us by!  Many of them were even getting out, having enjoyed as much of the COLD water as they could in the cool shade of the rain forrest.

Kimberly and John-Michael in the Garden of Eden

John-Michael from S/V Pura Vida
Kimberly and John-Michael, you know them from Our Life Aquatic, were just getting into the water.

John-Michael was like a little kid!

Too COLD!  Not getting in!


Living up to it's name, the Rain Forrest was dripping wet!

Pineapple growing on the roadside
By this time it was growing late... We made a few stops on our loop around the southern end of the island as we headed back north on the western coast.

It wouldn't be a good idea to get caught after sundown on these winding roads.

A small hillside cemetery... with a view!
The outskirts of Roseau
One of many washed out bridges from Tropical Storm Erika in 2015
The bridge road just crumbled!

Another wrecked bridge
The Big City of Roseau

And back to the countryside!
Darkness comes earlier in the shade of the mountains
It had been a full day.  Full of laughter, new sights, wows and ahhhhs.... Dominica is every bit as beautiful as we hoped she would be.  There are so many things we have left undone.  Waterfalls, mountain trails to hike, towns to explore and maybe even a horseback ride!  But Hurricane season is advancing and we will soon leave this place... Because we've only just scratched the surface... we will return.
Back to our Bay as the setting sun is casting pink and purple clouds

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