Enjoying Dominica

Up bright and early Wednesday morning and Alexis comes by to pick us up for our Indian River tour….along with Ron and Demi who are currently travelling on Jolly Friends….   As we entered the river the engine was shut off and Alexis proceeded to row us around. The river is narrow and winding under a canopy of plants with huge blood tree roots into the water – and the silence is only broken by the sound of the scuttling of land crabs as they move in and out of their holes and the noises of the birds. Boa constrictors live on this island but we didn’t see any… We did, however, see a few hummingbirds but, again, too fast to get a photo! The surface of the river is covered in leaves and flowers as they drift down from the canopy above – feels like being covered in a natural confetti…..

This river is where the Caribs lived and hunted – and local legend is they were cannibalistic too which is why they held off the settlers longer than on other islands. This is also a swamp area that used to breed the malarial mosquito and yellow fever that led to Plymouth being abandoned by the eventual settlers as the islands capital. Glad to note that this is no longer a problem! Along the way we saw the place where Pirates of the Caribbean built and filmed Calypso’s cabin…and at the end of the river we went ashore to go hiking through to a local plantation where we sampled and purchased some locally made very strong rum mixed drinks….as well as bananas and fresh cocoa seeds straight from the pod. On the way back to collect the boat we saw huge numbers of tourists coming up the river – crammed into the boats all wearing life jackets. They did not look happy! I think their experience was really different to ours….

Wednesday night we partied at Big Poppas on the beach who were having their BBQ and live reggae night… Great time had by all. Thursday we had a leisurely day and did boat jobs and went ashore to wander around Plymouth again. A really nice place this – very friendly with almost everyone saying hello. We purchased a few local fruits and vegetables from the ladies who ply their wares along the streets. We also managed to get our new shower bilge pump from the chandlery – hurrah… Quiet night on board.

Friday morning up bright and early and we are off out for an island tour this time. Again with Ron and Demi but also joined by Graeme and Pam who are cruising on their boat Hot Latte Tudes. Met Shadow our driver – who is a Carib – and we took off visiting both the Caribbean and the Atlantic coasts. The whole island is lush and green with amazing tree canopies, wild bamboo, wild coconut palms and the smells of different spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg growing. There are still sugar plantations here as well as a huge amount of bananas being grown – and they are shipped directly from here to the UK. Heard the story about the Pirates of the Caribbean filming inland here too – and they took over a coconut plantation. But to ensure the safety of the cast and crew they cut down all the coconuts – the owner allegedly got £1.2mn for the privilege. But the trees take some time to recover from losing all their fruit and the plantation has never opened again – so a load of locals lost their jobs as a result. Not sure how I feel about that…..

The funniest thing that happened today was that when we pulled up to take photos along came this little van – a baker’s van – who then sold us his freshly baked produce… Amazing in the middle of the rainforest we are scoffing this stuff – Richard said the bread pudding was pretty good! We also went into the Indian territory where Caribs still live to this day and made a few purchases including my stunning new hand-made sun hat! We then stopped for a local lunch of crayfish and moved onto a trek in the national park which ended up at a waterfall where we were able to take a dip in the freezing cold water. It is difficult to express how beautiful this place is – you’ll just have to take my word for it and let the pictures do the talking…..

Friday night sundowners at Blue Bay with the rest of the crowd – and we ended up back on Jolly Friends having sundowners and listening to Ron and Graeme jam on their guitars along with some singing…. We got out early as we are going diving in the morning and have to sort out our gear. Oh yes, did I mention the local beers? It comes in tiny bottles and we end up feeling like giants when we drink it!

Saturday morning we were up early again and waiting for the dive boat to come by to pick us up – oh dear, we’re on island time….and he was around 40 minutes late. But at least he came! We headed off round the corner and picked up a dive buoy and quickly got into the water. There was only Don (the divemaster) Ron and ourselves on this trip – great. All sank to the bottom and meandered down the ledge to about 75 feet / 25 metres – huge huge soft sponges with massive crabs inside; a 4ft barracuda came by; loads and loads of small reef fish with the occasional big shoal of fish visiting. Pristine coral site and finished up back on the ledge in relatively shallow water looking around while we did our safety stop. And under this coral outcrop was a giant spiny pufferfish with its huge black eyes set into white eyelids blinking away looking something like a jersey cow… Fantastic dive had by all…. Back on board, went to shore to pick up the next four tanks, and back out again. Back into the water this time to a wreck which had been towed out and sunk by Don’s father after it was wrecked in the mouth of the Indian River by a hurricane…. Some great coral growing on it and we saw crabs clinging to the structure and a lot of fish milling about… After some time on the wreck we then headed back up to the shallow reef ledge to look at the stuff around – again, pristine coral and fans, with large cactus looking structures coming out of the sand. Loads of fish – with a few of my personal favourites, particularly the lovely trigger fish who was hiding out under a rock, a couple of lobsters, a moray eel and a white spotty eel that looked more like a snake. Not come across anything like him before…. Again another great dive and definitely going to do some more!

Back to Morphie, went into town to get some more drinking vouchers out of the ATM and to collect some new pads made by the local tailor for dink, and back on board we crashed pretty tired out! Went ashore for sundowners with the crowd and then back on board early for a quiet dinner and to bed. Now it’s Sunday so we have rung Mum to wish her Happy Mother’s Day and we’re doing a few boat jobs and then going to head to the beach for the afternoon. Tonight we have a BBQ organised by the PAYS guys on the beach…..

Bye for now