More adventuring with Sea Cat - Middleham Falls

Thu 11 Apr 2013 18:57
We have been very lucky with company as we've cruised the Caribbean. Sadly, our friends on Limbo moved on, but just a few hours later, heralded by shouts and whistles, our Dutch friends Norma and Franz on Vela arrived, along with 3 other Dutch boats who we spent time with in the Tobago Cays. It was great to see them and we spent a lovely evening catching up with our news and swapping information about the different Islands. They were heading North, to Islands we'd been to, we were heading South, to Islands they'd been to. Very helpful!

Having had such a brilliant time we booked Sea Cat for another day out, along with Petra and Miriam, the biologists. Paul, a friend of Chris Doyle who was anchored near by, joined us, so with high expectations and spirits we 6 set off in the Octobus to explore Sea Cat style. I should explain, Sea Cat's real name is Octavius, which was changed in school to Octopus, and Sea Cat is the local term for Octopus. His minivan is all painted up with octopuses on it, hence Octobus.

On the way we drove through the Botanical gardens in Roseau. In a land of fantastic plants and trees they managed to find even more extravagant ones for the gardens. Huge palms, with leaves spanning 6 meters, giant bamboo with two inch long spikes, a massive banyan tree (sounds like something from The Jungle Book!), it's aerial roots forming curtains from it's branches. There was also a monument to the worst hurricane (David 1979) in the form of a school bus that had been totally flattened by a falling tree, the tree then had the temerity to keep on growing afterwards! The parrots were there too, they have a breeding and research centre for them. Even behind bars it was nice to see them close up after catching glimpses and hearing them so often in the forests.



As before we stopped along the way many times, as we were winding our way through pretty villages and up steep valleys. Leaning out his window Sea Cat picked a small fruit, bursting with juicy seeds, a bit like pomegranate. This was a dye that the Indians used for war paint and decoration, and the ladies used for lipstick. We daubed our cheeks with war stripes, marking ourselves as members of the brotherhood of Moonshine! We saw balsa wood trees, with their tufts of fluffy seeds, like Old Man's Beard, and mangoes growing wild along the roadside.

I particularly enjoyed the dire warnings of punishment on signs around the villages. The one about washing transport had a car being washed right in front of it so I don't think the locals feel too threatened by them!


The walk to Middleham falls was wonderful. It was challenging too - lots of ups and downs, but punctuated by Sea Cat either giving us interesting and informed detail on the local flora and fauna or playing about by swinging on creepers and pretending to be Tarzan's Cheetah. As is right and proper for a rainforest it poured with rain all the time, our attempts to use leaves as umbrellas proved misguided and we resigned ourselves to being drowned rats. We spotted a huge centipede, the only poisonous thing in the forest - unpleasant but not fatal to be bitten by one. The falls didn't disappoint us and Miriam and Petra joined Sea Cat for a cold swim in the wild waters. The spray coming off the falls swept across the pool at an amazing rate, filling the air with water and sending it pushing back up the further sides of the gully.



On the way back we passed Franz and Norma with their friends, exploring the same route. It had been unplanned so Norma was trying to tackle the mud and roots in flip flops! Luckily I had a spare pair of shoes on me so we were able to better equip her. We continued to see lots of birdlife: more hummingbirds, Gray Kingbirds and the fascinating Trembler, so called because when he lands he seems to shiver, trembling his wings. All the while we heard Bananaquits sing and the elusive parrots squawking. Back at the octobus we were glad of our change of clothes and settled back in for the next part of our busy day, I'll tell you more in the next blog post...