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Date: 03 Apr 2011 22:37:05
Title: Back in Dominica

Jungle Bay, Dominica, Sunday afternoon

We're back at Jungle Bay again, listening to the surf smash itself against the beach and the birds arguing about who gets the best perch. Cind is in the cabin where we stayed last time and we're next door so we can yodel to each other when it's time to go down for a meal.

Cind, Andrea and I woke up a bit the worse for wear yesterday morning as we'd all eaten far too much in the Italian restaurant the night before. I could barely manage any breakfasat as I could still feel the previous evening's pork in my stomach. I had a lot of little jobs to get done before we left for Dominica so I had to get cracking with doing emails, ringing taxis, getting packed and getting Saxon Blue in a sensible state. Alden and I had a look at the list of jobs and decided which of them he could sensibly tackle while we were away, then found the necessary spares and materials. Hopefully, he'll be able to get some stuff finished and not find too many other things which need doing. I'm sure he'll enjoy having Saxon Blue to himself and not having us around forcing him to eat veggie food.

We all had our lunch together in the little cafe by the waterside which was a bit of a mistake as they're back to their bad old ways of taking ages to produce food that bears little resemblance to what's described in the menu. We waited over half an hour for some salads and a sandwich so I don't think we'll be troubling them again any time soon. By the time we'd eaten, I had about five minutes to get a quick shower and finish packing my bag. In that time, Moody rang to say he was running late so he was sending another guy, Oliver, to pick us up. He arrived bang on time so fair enough. Cind, Andrea and I got in and we headed off for the airport.

When we arrived, there were people everywhere - in contrast to the normal semi-deserted state. We checked in, paid our departure tax (cash only) and got some departure forms to replace the ones that I'd forgotten to bring. Then we joined the queue which went virtually the whole length of the concourse. There were no announcements about what was going on nor any indication of what people were supposed to do if their plane was about to depart. As we inched our way forward, surrounded by panicing Canadians, it became clear that the holdup was with the cabin baggage screening. They only had one X-ray machine working so they had a row of people manually searching through the bags of half the would-be passengers. People were losing their sense of humour everywhere. A guy shuffled Andrea out of our queue into the one for the X-ray as she had a laptop but there was no signs up telling such well-gadgetted types to get into that line. Talk about making a drama out of a crisis. Everyone
in an airport is freaked out anyway and all they had to do was put a few printed signs up to calm people's nerves.

We'd left plenty of time for unforseen circumstances so we were pretty calm and still had half an hour to spare before the boarding time of our plane when we finally made it through the security screening. Then they called our names out for final boarding of our plane - I've never had my name called out before. We went straight through the gate, walked across the tarmac and into the small plane which promptly took off a good thirty minutes earlier than scheduled. I don't know what they'd have done if we hadn't arrived until we were supposed to. The flight was great as we could look down on loads of the places we'd been in Saxon Blue. We saw Five Islands Bay and then Falmouth Harbour, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, The Saintes and, finally, the coast of Dominica.

It's funny how different the islands look from the air. Antigua is green but quite flat with scattered houses everywhere. Guadeloupe has big areas of green forest interspersed with neatly ordered towns, their municipal buildings and sports facilities arranged properly. The Saintes looked tiny - hardly room to hide behind them from the ocean swell. Dominica is just trees and mountains. We hardly saw any houses atall as we came in, just above the level of the trees and banked hard to get onto the runway. We got through customs and immigration OK then had to wait half an hour for Jepson to arrive. He was slightly late as he'd had to stop to get two new tyres on the bus and, just for the purpose, we were early. Anyway, it was good to see him again and we set straight off into the countryside.

The eastern side of the country is hardly populated so we were just travelling through the jungle over the terrible roads. The Chinese gangs had left diggers and lorries everywhere so they're obviously doing their best but it seemed to take forever to get to Jungle Bay. I think we were all feeling a bit travel sick by the time we arrived after negotiating hundreds of hairpin bends. We had a drink with Jepson and his friend in the reception then put our stuff in our cabins and went straight down for dinner. The food was as excellent as ever and, to make amends for my excessive carnivorousness the day before, I just had vegetables. All the staff remembered us from our last visit and were surprised to see us back again so soon. Nancy and Sam came over for a chat and asked us where the boat was so we had to explain where we'd been. Then it was time to face the unavoidable climb back to our cabin. Andrea made a cup of tea and we just about managed to drink it before collapsing int
o bed - hence no blog yesterday night.

I slept like a log, in spite of the tree-frogs making a racket, followed by the birds as soon as it got light and the rain rattling on the roof. Cind told me about all the noises as I didn't hear any of them. We headed down for breakfast and were about to get started when Carlos waves us over from near the kitchen. He had a bag full of jelly coconuts which Jepson had brought for us - I think his friend Harold had grown and prepared them - so we got Carlos to machete a couple of them open for us. We drank the water and then scraped the jelly from inside and ate that so it was a very Caribbean breakfast.

Our tour this morning departed at 10 am so we headed up to reception to catch that only to find that it was Carlos taking us out so we had a good laugh about how stuffed full of coconut I was. He suggested that we take our coconut water mixed with moonshine in future. There were only another two women on the tour with the three of us so we had a great time doing the river walk up to Victoria Falls. The water was a bit lower this time so the walking was easier and we arrived before we knew it. The rivers here are just magnificent. Surrounded with vegetation, they carve their way down the mountainsides so it's like walking through a botanical garden. Then there's the waterfall at the end. There's something about the noise and pressure of it that is exhilerating and we were all shrieking and larking about in the pool at the bottom like a bunch of kids. The walk back to the truck didn't take long which was just as well as I was famished by then and ready for my lunch.

On the walk, Carlos had been showing us the different plants, especially the edible ones growing all around. We smelled the Lemon Grass and the strongest Thyme that we've ever come across. Cind put some in her pocket and became an instant pot-pourri. Anyway, he then bent down and gave a delicate-looking little plant a poke with his finger and it promptly folded its leaves up. He said it was Mimosa so I'm going to have to look it up. The leaf is made up of about 20 tiny leaflets and, when I touched the end one, it furled itself up into a limp tube. The wierd thing was, though, that the reaction continued along the stalk so that each of the leaflets in turn folded itself up as well. Then the whole stalk went limp. It's like the plant has some kind of nervous system. I've never seen anything like it. Carlos reckons that the leaves come out again after a while but we didn't wait to see that.

We've just been hanging our in our room for the afternoon, reading and chatting. It's good to have a bit of time not doing much and it's great not having to worry about the boat, now that Alden is looking after her in Nelson's Dockyard. Best of all, though, is that there's another top-quality meal getting prepared down in the restaurant.

Harvey


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