Portsmouth - Calypso and Carnaval
Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Wed 10 Feb 2016 01:05
Of all the places we have visited Dominica is one of the most interesting and enjoyable. The people we have met are lively and friendly, and really want you to enjoy their country. And the island itself is amazing - mountains, jungle, rivers and waterfalls.
Our first day here was Sunday, and everything was closed, as seems to be the norm in the Caribbean. We had a walk around, and a drink in Sandy’s Beach Bar, then in the evening went to our first beach barbeque. The local tour guides have organised themselves to provide moorings, security and services to yachts, and as a fundraiser to support the moorings they lay on this event every Sunday. In addition to the food there was as much Rum Punch as you could drink, so I am not sure how much profit they actually make! The guides all wizz around the bay in brightly coloured boats with their names painted on the side, and will arrange everything from tours of the island to getting your laundry done.
Yesterday we went on a trip along the Indian River. Indian River is an area of mangrove swamp, named for the Caribs who used to live in the area. It is now managed as a nature reserve and they don’t allow outboard engines on the river to avoid pollution. This makes the trip really quiet and peaceful. Our guide, who rowed the boat, was Sam who has always lived in Portsmouth and knew the river and its wildlife really well. We were taken to see ‘Calypso’s House’ - part of the Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed here. We went in the middle of the day, but apparently the early morning and evening are best for seeing the birdlife: I can see a repeat trip if we come back here.
Today we went on a hike - about 4 hours through farmland and then into the forest. Another amazing experience - apart from a local farmer who spoke to us on the approach we didn’t see another person on the trail. It was well waymarked but quite narrow and steep going uphill then down into a ravine and then back up to a viewpoint before returning to the road over a suspension bridge. The only noises we heard were the streams we passed, the wind in the trees and the occasional rain shower on the leaves, and the birds and lizards. And on one occasion Phil's shout when a snake shot out from under his foot. There are no poisonous snakes here, and in addition to this one we also saw a boa of some sort digesting its lunch on the path. We finished the walk with a dip in a swimming hole. Lovely and cool after a very sweaty day.
Today is Mardi Gras, and yesterday and today are the carnaval days. If there was a costume parade here we missed it, this evening everyone is out in town and there are two huge lorries sporting more and bigger speakers than we have ever seen in one place driving at less than walking pace round the town blasting out music, with people dancing along in front and behind. It seems they are going to continue all evening - supported by lots of bars and food vendors.
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