Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dominica: Adventures of Day One

A couple of lawyers! Loretta and Dennis
Loretta arrived in Pointe Pitre on Saturday, December 28. After a lovely dinner out, we prepared the boat for an early departure to Dominica (Dom-in-ee-ka). We had over 40 nautical miles to sail passing between Marie Galante and Isle de Saints to Prince Rupert Bay on the northwest end. Crossing the Guadeloupe Passage was a fast sail with swells in the range of 5-8 feet. Fortunately the wind was on the beam so we actually sailed more than motor sailing. We averaged over 7 knots per hour in a sunny fresh breeze. Finally a really good day for sailing!

We were welcomed by Martin of Providence
While the beaches of Dominica are not wonderful (black sand and rocky), the wild and rugged rainforest and jungle areas provide awesome views, smells, sounds and sights. The rainfall is about 350" annually with numerous showers every day. They are short lived but enough to drench you and keep us opening and closing portholes and hatches. The Sahara winds gather moisture as they cross the Atlantic Ocean from Africa. When they reach the tall volcanic islands, the heavy black clouds drop the rain as it crosses the top of the islands. This year the Sahara winds have been very strong resulting in the wild Christmas Winds we have been fighting on our passages.

Christian the Fruit Man
Upon arrival in Prince Rupert's Bay, we radioed for Martin on Providence to be our tour guide. He has a great reputation as do the other professionals in the PAYES group. The tour guides are highly trained and registered and they provide a number of services: helping secure a mooring ball, taking you to Immigration, setting up island tours, etc. We highly recommend Martin and encourage you to call him on VHF 16 as you enter the bay. Otherwise, the next guide in line at the point will offer his services.

Passion Fruit, Bananas and Grapefruit.
That's Passion Fruit in the bowl and Flat Stanley
who is sending messages to the Montieth First Graders.
Once we were tied up, the Fruit Man whose name is Christian, showed up next to the boat. I bought a couple of passion fruits, bananas and grapefruits from him. Then he asked me for a "little green bottle." I told him that I did not understand what he wanted. He couldn't believe that I didn't know. Finally he told me he wanted a beer! Sorry, we don't carry beer. I later learned the local beer is in a very small little green bottle and it is called Kabuli. He was quite frustrated with me.            

Martin arranged for Paul to take us on an all day driving tour of the northern end of the island. We saw many different villages, each having its own distinction in housing, crops, terrain, and the like.

Paul with the Medicine Woman (herbalist) and her children.
We visited a Carib medicine woman who shared her knowledge about the many plants and their medicinal qualities.It seems that you can cure most everything from female problems to male problems and everything between with a tea from leaves, stems, bark or roots. It is too bad the medical community does not take more of an interest in the ancient medicinal qualities in nature instead of stuffing us full of chemical concoctions!

Lemon grass, bay leaves, viagra, and basil from the hillside.
As we hiked to different sites, Paul gathered plants and fruits to share with us: lemongrass, bay leaves, hearts of palm, basil, grapefruits, limes, passion fruit, and star fruit from his backyard. There was also a chunk of tree bark they call Viagra, but apparently, it is not the one we know from the pharmaceutical company! All of us smirked a little when he named it.

All along the route, Paul stopped to collect herbs and other forms of plant life to share with us. The star fruit from his tree were very large and very yellow. This is how they are supposed to be when you eat them. Not the little green sour things we usually find in the fruit markets. He gave a us a full bag of them so we are able to enjoy and share with our friends on Nexus. 

The way star fruit is supposed to look!
We hiked to the Cold Soufriere (volcano). It is the only cold water volcano in the islands. It is cold because there is so much fresh rain water trickling down that is cools the water bubbling out of the volcano. We walked on the top of the volcano crater. It smelled slightly of sulfur, probably much less than normal due to the lack of hot steam. The water was cool to the touch and did not leave a smell on our hands. 

Paul explained the phenomenon and how the volcano functions here. All of these islands were created from volcanoes hundreds of years ago. Some let off steam and some have blown in recent history causing death and destruction.

On our journey, we enjoyed an lunch of MahiMahi and a number of side dishes, including plantain, white yam, beans, potatoes with cheese and a tomato and corn salad, at a small establishment on the Atlantic Ocean. Our guide advised us that if we leave a cash tip, it goes to the woman waiting on us. If we add it to the credit card bill, the extra is taken by the owner. The currency is EC which stands for East Caribbean Dollar. The exchange rate if about 2.65EC to one US dollar.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sherry, Dennis,

    I'm soooo glad you convinced Loretta to join you on your journey! It seems she picked the perfect time as it was below zero degrees with over a foot of snow in Detroit. Your blog is fabulous especially the info on the local color, food, drinks and sights! I'm hooked into it and receive emails of every update. Looking forward to your next installment.

    Fair winds and following seas,



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