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Date: 05 Apr 2011 02:21:48
Title: More Champagne

Jungle Bay, Dominica, Monday night

As we weren't off on any trips this morning, we could take it a bit easy so we had a leisurely breakfast before setting out on the Zom Zom trail. This is the walk down to the rocks in the ocean which goes from Jungle Bay itself so no need for a vehicle journey. It's a lovely walk through the forest with lizards everywhere and the occasional hermit crab. We sat on the rocks at the end watching the surf roll in around us. It's amazing that the island is still here with so much pounding from the waves every day.

We didn't have time to wait around too long, though, as we were getting picked up by Jepson at 1pm and we had to fit our lunch in before then. I just had time for a shower and change my shirt, then down for lunch and directly up to reception to pick up some snorkelling gear. Jepson arrived and we set off for Champagne Beach. On the way, we passed his bar where he stopped to give the truck keys to his wife. This was a good opportunity for Andrea to have another cuddle with Kaydon, Jepson's son. He's walking now and getting into all sorts of trouble. Very cute. On the way out of Petite Savanne, we stopped to pick up three young women who sat behind us all quiet and embarrassed. I'm sure they would normally have been giggling the whole way.

Jepson dropped us at Champagne Beach and headed off with the three young women who were looking a bit more lively now that we were getting out. We got ourselves sorted out with a dive guide called Diane who was busily having her hair braided by another girl. Andrea and Cind hired wetsuits for themselves and we all headed off down the beach and past the herds of Iguanas with half of Diane's hair in corn-rows and the other half au-naturel. It's a bit difficult getting into the sea on the beach as it's really stony and I have to take my shoes off before getting in deep enough to fit the fins. Not having glasses on makes it all even harder.

Anyway, once I was in and sorted out, I turned face down and it was immediately apparent how clear the water was. Clearer than the last time we were in Dominica and much better than any we'd seen in Antigua. Almost immediately, a flounder swam beaneath me and on into the streams of bubbles emerging from the seabed. Just past him, there was a whole shoal of little fish just hanging out. We swam a different way round to the last time and soon saw the cannons and anchor from the Spanish ship and then swam over the edge of the lava. This time, the water was clear enough to see the bottom, even in that depth. The feeling of flying over the land was wonderful with water so clear that it was hard to be aware of it.

We ended up swimming the length of the beach and seeing some great walls, covered in sponges and fish. I dived down a few times for a closer look but, to be honest, you could see everything from the surface and I was often just doing activities to keep myself warm. After we'd swum over some barren sand, Diane said she'd point out some Seahorses. She dived down to some frondy weeds and pointed at a brown lump which looked like part of the plant. After she'd come back up, I dived down to the same spot and could make out the Seahorse pretty well. They've very well comouflaged, though, so this was the one time when I was at an advantage to Cind and Andrea. They did end up seeing the little creatures but it was difficult.

From there, we were soon back at the beach. Andrea declared that she'd had a much better time than on her previous visit. I think the wetsuit helped her keep warm and feel more buoyant so she'd been totally relaxed the whole time. She'd ended up swimming for an hour out of her depth which is pretty amazing. Cind was blown away by how much we'd seen in so short a time and we had a good chat over a drink with Jepson in the little cafe by the beach. Diane was now straight back into the job of getting the other half of her hair braided. Once we got back into the bus, it was clear that we'd be very short of time to continue on to the Trafalgar Falls which was our plan. We didn't fancy doing a drive up there only to have a short visit so we decided to just head back for Jungle Bay.

On the way back, Jepson phoned somebody who we assume was his wife and said he'd be back in ten minutes. That didn't stop him staying with us for another drink, though, and we had a lovely talk about hurricanes and Dominican planning laws with a particular emphasis on how to get around them. He was alternately talking to us in English and then the other Jungle Bay staff in Creole. As ever here, everything was good-humoured and unhurried so it was a good while before I paid him for today, arranged to meet him again on Wednesday for our extended return to the airport and we headed up to our cabins to have a shower before dinner.

We all had a massive meal again but we're going on a long walk tomorrow so we had to carbo-load for that. Cind is determined to see a Tree Frog but she'll have a hard job as they're tiny, shy and fast-moving. We did see a lovely black and yellow snake today, though, so that's one wildlife encounter we can tick off the list. All in all, another great day on Dominica.

Harvey


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