Friday, April 26, 2013

Adventures in Dominica - Part II

Titus mon
Titus arranged for us to take the tour up the Indian River, touted by all the boatmen as a “must-do” trip in Dominica.  He dropped us off at the mouth of the river, and we were handed off to Devon , whom we had met on an earlier walk when we met Marian, the American lady who volunteered at the school, and McGiver, her rasta boyfriend with the orange boat. 

Devon on the Indian River

Our fellow passengers were French-speaking,with little kids, so we got all our questions answered because the French weren’t listening.   We passed the frame of the sea-witch’s hut used in the filming of “Pirates of the Caribbean- At the World’s End”.  Aspects of the trip reminded us of "See Rock City".
The sea-witch's hut, from Pirates of the Caribbean....funny!
Devon identified kingfishers, herons, “bwa mang” trees with their twisting buttress roots, mangroves, white mullet fish and other flora and fauna.  Engines are not allowed up the river, so the woodland sounds and bird calls could be heard above the dipping of Devon’s oars.  Around the next bend in the river is the “Bush Bar”, where the river becomes too shallow to pass further.
At the Bush Bar
We disembarked with the other boats, had a rum punch, and walked down garden and woodland paths with our guides to see what’s growing. We met up with Skipper Chris from Antigua who wanted to borrow Randy’s rivet gun, and Edgar from Hawaii who Di enjoyed chatting with about her old cruise ship days in Hawaii.  Randy asked Devon to show Di how to select and break open the sprouted “bread” coconut, which is good eating, and easier to open than a brown or green nut.

We arranged with Titus for an island tour around the north half of the island, and had “Uncle Sam” as our guide. Our fellow tourists again were French from Guadeloupe who spoke little English, so the tour was bilingual.  We enjoyed sign language communication with French yachtie Olivier and his little daughter Ohana, who was Di’s shell collecting buddy. We left around 9am , and headed clockwise around the Island, through the villages of  Calibishe and Marigot.  

 We continued on past Castle Bruce, past beautiful views of sea cliffs and misty mountains, thru deep gorges and forested valleys.  We stopped for lunch at a restaurant overlooking the sea, and had chicken stewed in mild brown gravy, “provision”( the local assortment of boiled starchy veggies, including green banana, cassava, eddoes, and dasheen) ,green salad, yellow rice and my new favorite pigeon peas, with sugar cane and coconut cake for dessert


Dominicans love to adorn their yards and roadways with colorful plants and flowers.
In the Carib Indian territory, we stopped in Salybia to check out handicrafts. Di bought a basket made from naturally dyed cane, and Randy bought  “kan-ki” a syrupy-sweet tamale made from coarse textured cassava meal,  flavored with ginger, and steamed in a banana leaf.

Carib basket ladies
 Continuing on, we shot past a dug-out canoe being made, but made the driver back up. Made from a single “gamb-yay “tree, it was nearly 50 feet long. They were steaming it with hot coals on the outside and water on the inside, to shape the hull.  It will be raced inter-island against the Team Guadeloupe.
Next we  went on to the waterfall, the highlight of the trip. We hiked through a lush grove of mature citrus, avocado, guava trees, along a corduroy trail through the forest, tree ferns and dripping cliffs covered with moss and ferns, and down rustic steps made of tree roots and cut into living stone, to the waterfall.
Cloud forest with tree ferns
On the trail to the waterfall.
It was a high cascade which was small enough that you could sit under it (until our ears got pelted sore!).  The pool was lovely, cool and refreshing and smiles broke out all around.  We were sorry to leave.
 After that, we sped past the Layou River, where last year a massive landslide upstream dumped acres of sand and stone into the river which tumbled downstream, took out the bridge, and left dunes of sand in the riverbed.  It is now being cleared and sold on a commercial scale.

Martin stopped by and invited us to join a trip around the north end of the island on Easter Sunday with his wife Florian and some other cruisers. Among this delightful group were Martin’s old friend Chris Doyle, the author of the popular cruising guides to the Caribbean, and his lifelong friend Paul Tobias, cruising together this season while their ladies stayed in New England.
Di, Paul and Chris
Thanks for the Doyle guide, Steve and Diana.
We use it all the time!

We hiked into the woods to see Cherry Falls, learned to identify vanilla, cinnamon, lemon grass and David’s orchids, and walked back through a ferny valley to see Cold Soufriere.  This volcanic site features bubbling pools of cool sulfurous water, rather than boiling ones (those are at Hot Soufriere).  A jolly good time was had by all.
Vanilla orchids.  They must be hand-pollinated to yield the  aromatic bean.

The cool bubbling sulfur-mineral water at Cold Soufriere.
On Sunday nights, the PAYS group hosts a fundraiser BBQ .  For $20USD/ $50 EC you get all-you-can-eat tossed salad, grilled chicken drumsticks and mahi, yellow rice, and seriously strong passionfruit rum punch in little cups.  The DJ plays great soca and reggae music until about midnight, and the cruisers and boatmen "skank" and “wind “ all over the dance floor.  Everyone was smiling and having a ball.  However, no water is served, and the result was a “big head” and increased sensitivity to light all day Monday for some of Sinbad’s crew who shall remain nameless.
Barbeque, rum punch and dancing!
With Tom and Jerry, our Dutch cruiser friends aboard Argo

At the party, we sat next to the crew of Jessy III, a catamaran owned by Martin and Barbel from Germany and with Andy and Eva from Austria.
Thanks for sharing the photos, Eva.
Though their stay at the party was cut short, they stopped by our boat later to invite us over for a glass of wine.  Aboard their 50-some foot Outremer catamaran, (which is unbelievably spacious and stable), we were treated to creamy Jagtwurst  sausage Andy had brought from Austria, served on buttered ciabbatta, various cheeses, and sliced ripe local tomatoes. Best of all was the laughter, delightful company and interesting conversation.
Everyone spoke impeccable English except us!
Aboard Jessy III
Later we ran into the again, in Les Saintes, on their way back to Guadeloupe to fly back to Europe at vacation’s end.
Chris and Paul stopped by and invited us to join them on a rainforest hike tomorrow. We rallied around 0830 and dinghied over to the Indian River. We hiked uphill past the gas station, turned at the horse farm and followed the two-track into the forest.  For being in their 70’s, they set a brisk pace and hopped from stone to stone across the rivers like teenagers. 
On the trail
 We paused for a coconut break just after we began our return trip. We enjoyed two kinds of coconut, dried brown coconut and the sweet bread coconut Di recently learned how to open.  The old Antiguan trick for opening a nut without spilling the water came in handy once again!   Near the end of our hike, we peeled off our sweaty clothes and had a refreshing dip in the river.  Oooooh...  Aaaaaaah....
The forest birdsong, hazy sunlight drifting through the canopy and the soft gurgling of the opalescent water created a magical feeling.  Later, at dinner at the Blue Bay Restaurant, Paul and Chris happened by and joined us for more laughs and chat.  Both of them have spent decades aboard boats in the Caribbean, the Med and the Pacific, and with educational backgrounds in Physics and Psychology, were able to discuss almost any topic!  We hope to see them again soon.
Dinner at the Blue Bay restaurant

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