30 April 2012
Wed, 25 April: 0630 We set off from Les Saintes in great conditions
with breeze from the East (as usual) but by 0930 the breeze had died and we had
to motor the rest of the way, arriving at Roseau at 1310. We were met my
Sea Cat’s boat who guided us to his mooring buoys in the very open anchorage at
Roseau. It’s a big change from Guadaloupe: the shore is lined with
old buildings and wharves, the jetties are rather tumble down (including Sea
Cat’s) and there seem to be few people around. In fact only about half a
dozen visiting yachts moored. It’s deep and steep-to so difficult to
anchor unless you take a line ashore. The shore and bottom is volcanic
boulders and rubble so there’s a good chance to get your anchor fouled. On
our mooring we are in about 20 metres and the bottom of the riser is out of
sight. I hope it’s secure although it was never to be tested during our
stay. There is a commercial port, fishing harbour and a pier for cruise
ships. None came in while we were there. But that’s where I go to
complete the check-in procedure (various forms in triplicate with carbon paper,
Sea Cat is a guide, driver, story teller and generally a treasure. It
turns out that his assistant, who met us in his boat, is called Desmond.
Thursday: Test Match: West Indies vs Australia. Desmond takes us from
LS to the jetty at the Fort Young Hotel and we walk from there through the town,
which is very old, to the stadium, which is brand new. The town is like a
movie set, a movie set in the 19th century. Most of the buildings are original
from the colonial era and there has been very little modernisation since.
Tradesmen, artisans, street sellers – it’s all going on in the same way as
always. Everyone is friendly and non-threatening. When we get to the
stadium we have to join the throng to buy tickets from a booth set in a tent –
it looks like they forgot about a ticket office when they built the
stadium. But it’s a good natured jostling to get to the front and we
emerge with our tickets at US$13 each then enter the stand where the Aussies are
just finishing their second innings so we get to see the Windies bat for much of
the day. It’a a gas with music, clapping, shouting among the local
crowd. Not many Australian supporters here!
Friday: Land trip with Sea Cat. He takes us all over and tells us
everything. For example, the stadium: originally this was started as a
gift from the Taiwanese. Then the government switched its support to the
PRC so the chinese built it. They also built a number of roads (the Road
to China). In exchange for this largesse the Dominicans are supposed to
support China’s claim to Formosa at the UN. Dominica is very
mountainous. The British and French colonialists decided it was no good
for plantations so they agreed to leave it alone and it became a refuge for the
native Caribs that were being driven from their lands in other islands.
But this didn’t last forever and before long the French started to colonise only
to lose control to the British following some European war. The
mountains remain and because the terrain is so rough, the interior is very
largely undeveloped in any way – just raw tropical forest. There are also
Caribs who enjoy the use of a section of the island where they can maintain
their culture and way of life. On our trip we visited the Carib territory,
ate many tropical fruits, lunched at a dramatic little restaurant with fabulous
views and swam in mountain pools, the second of which (Trafalgar Falls) had both
hot and cold water falls. It was quite an experience to climb up to the
falls and swim close to the cascade.
And by the way, that fruit in Sea Cat’s hand is a nutmeg, surrounded by a
covering of mace. I never knew that.
We had a great day, met lots of locals along the way and ended it having a
couple of rum punches in a roadside bar.
We rested up for a couple of days, then on Monday took a boat trip with
Desmond to snorkel in the champagne – a phenomenon caused by small underwater
fumeroles releasing streams of bubbles from sea bed mud and rocks – lounge in
the hot springs on the beach at Soufriere, and finally to Scotts Head on the
South of the island.
Dominica – we love it. But next time we should go hiking in the