Sunday, 30 November 2014

Dominica – A Garden of Eden ….. June & Nov 2014

Portsmouth,  Dominica – 15 34N  61 27W
A Slightly Cryptic Blog Posting
It’s November and we have just had a quick overnight stopover in Portsmouth, Dominica.  We only stayed a night as we explored Dominica extensively on our way south in summer, but when I looked back to see what I had published I found the following posting (half finished) still in the drafts folder.  So for now I am slotting it in here as we travel north then I shall “re-post” it in its rightful place.P6040075

Back in June ….. Heading South

I have been harping on and complaining about our bashes to windward all season, 6 months of sailing hard on the wind sometimes in very messy seas has made the sailing unappealing, uncomfortable and at times very wet (in my opinion!!)  So it is with much relief and joy that I can finally report that for our sail from Les Saintes, Guadeloupe to Portsmouth, Dominica the sheets were eased all day and we sailed a close reach  – not down wind yet, but it was a very welcome step in the right direction!
Prince Rupert Bay in Portsmouth sits at the top of Dominica.  The bay is guarded by Fort Shirley, built by the  British to fight French invasions, of which it seems there were plenty.  The fort area is now a National Park with some great hiking trails around the headland.
It is close to the anchorage so along with Truant III, Little Wing and El Lobo we set off for an afternoon of exploration in the National Park.  The hiking was interesting and the trails well shaded, the views from the top were magnificent and the barracks and other buildings have been restored.  mangoes up closeAnd then there were the mango trees, fallen mangoes lay everywhere and I came back with my daypack bulging at the seams, they are just delicious and those that can’t be eaten now will end up in a huge batch of mango chutney, yummy
Up The Creek With A Paddle

We did a morning tour up the Indian River with our guide Martin (Providence Tours), it was a dawn departure, the best time of course to see the birds and enjoy the cooler part of the day.  P6040042
Martin was excellent, his ability to spot wildlife was incredible, and his knowledge of the local flora and fauna was endless.  We saw countless birds as he quietly paddled us up the Indian River,  the extensive root systems of the BloodwoodP6040036 trees clawed their way along the rivers edge and vines hung down overhead, it was all very special in the early morning light.

How They Look Before They Get To the Supermarket!!!
We tied up the canoe and set off ashore through the jungle for an informative walk, here are the fruits of the forest.

pineapple cocoa bean podpink pineapple
Above: Regular Pineapple, Cocoa Pod – inside are the cocoa beans, and Pink Pineapple                        Below: ?forgotten? and Red Bananas .. see the banana flower at the steam bottom, and bird spotting
P6050004red bananaP6040023
vanilla vine clinging to cocoa treepassionfruit vine over treepassionfruit flower

Above: Vanilla Pods clinging to Cocoa Tree, Passionfruit Vines & delicate Passionfruit flower            Below:  Jumbo Passionfruit, Cinnamon bark & Cashew Nuts and red or yellow Pod/Fruit

big passionfruit, has another namecutting cinnamon barkcashew fruit and nuts
Above:  Starfruit & Apricots (not like apricots we know but tasted the same, hard shell )                          Below:  Local Man balancing his load, Cherries & Castor Oil pods
P6050038cherriescastor oil pods
We visited a local farmer who also just happened to have a rum shack, rum and coconut milk before our morning coffee – not something we normally do but I would have to say it went down very well!!
P6040051auberginefarmers house in Domnica
Then A Full Day Island Tour
The following day we again engaged the services of Martin and we went off on a full day tour of the northern part of Dominica.  This part of the island was very diverse, we drove high up into the cloud forest where we were colder than we had been in months.  We saw bubbling sulphur pools reminiscent of New Zealand, complete with silver ferns (see the photo below of the imprint on Martins arm).

P6050048We did another nature trail discovering more fruits, flora and fauna of the forest. passed cultivated gardens etched into the sides of steep hills and then we came winding our way back down to sea level on the north east coast and visited a couple of pretty coves sheltered by outlying reefs, stopping at one for a well deserved lunch break.

Then we carried on discovering landscapes that reminded us of the Canary Islands, a bald outcrop of rich red soil sculptured over the millenniums by endless wind and waves, it stood stark and out of place on this lush tropical palm fringed coastline.
P6050060  P6050068
We had an excellent stay in Portsmouth and our two tours were excellent, Martin was an exceptional guide which makes all the difference.  It is a wild and widely undiscovered island with friendly locals, stunning scenery and millions of juicy mangoes!
Southern Dominica Still to Explore

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