Dominica--the adventure continues

Michael Hughes and Ger White
Sun 30 Mar 2008 22:58
Sunday 30th... and we've been in Dominica for 3 days, enjoying a rich mix of sunshine, heat, and pouring rain (liquid sunshine as they call it here).
We left Les Saintes on Thursday 27th, heading out past these beautiful small islands into the open Atlantic/Caribbean under grey skies and occasional showers, southwards towards Dominica, which emerged slowly and mistily from the clouds. A good sail down, with a fickle wind that had Mike exasperated at times, but then picked up and gave us a good drenching of sea spray (especially Pat who was sitting in the crow's cockpit)... all helped to keep us cool!  Just as we were approaching Dominica, lo, on our starboard side, a black shape arose beside us and up went the cry: "whale"! Yes, 'twas a small ?sperm? whale, going the other direction, so we only saw him/her for a few brief moments, but enough to see a couple of 'blows'.
We arrived into Portsmouth on the north west coast, and as before, Mike and Ger called on Martin, of 'Providence' to help with moorings and tour arrangements, whilst Aloysious paddled out on a surf board to take a fruit order.... late lunch on board, then ashore for a walk around and dinner. Next morning, Friday, Martin fetched us at 7am prompt for a gentle paddle up the Indian River, to enjoy the still and cool of the morning, the bird song, the humming birds, banana quits, thrashers, an iguana lazing at the top of a tree, and the spectacular old blood wood trees, roots and drippy mangrove creepers. Back to the boat for a quick breakfast, then off again, this time with Dilan, who drove us round the north end of the island, calling at Cold Soufriere (a volcanic crater with bubbling sulphur pools and smells) then up and up along high ridges to walk down into Chaudiere Pool and waterfalls. This was a very soggy walk down a lush valley, mostly in pouring rain, and our feet are still mud-coloured 2 days later! (yes, we have washed). But it was great to see tropical rainforest as it should be seen ie drippy, lush and green. We also saw banana packing going on, in a shed by the roadside, the bananas being washed and put into Tesco bags (we'd been told the bananas here are sold to Tesco/Fair Trade - but these bags didn't mention Fair Trade..). The trip was not that long in distance, but took the best part of the day as Dilan stopped every 5 minutes to leap out and present us with yet another plant or fruit, together with details of what each could do - for cooking, healing, easing all sorts of complaints - it was fascinating to hear how everything that grows here is used: bay rum (a kind of skin freshener), castor oil, coffee and cocoa beans, mango, pawpaw, coconuts, 'apricots' (quite different from ours), bread fruit, pineapple, lemon grass, cashew nuts.....
A day to remember.  
Yesterday - Saturday - we departed Portsmouth, heading south again, with a gentle east (though changeable and fickle) wind that glided us along smoothly in the lee of the island to Roseau, the capital of Dominica, where Seacat helped us to a mooring. We are now lying just off shore and this morning went into town - a sunny day, and no rain!! Now there's a spot of quiet reading and sunbathing going on on deck, after a bit of sploshing about in the water with snorkels (lots of sardines and the odd trumpet fish about).
Tonight will be our (Elspeth and Pat's) last night on board, as we jump ship here and head to the north of the island near the airport for our flight back to Antigua on Tuesday. We have had a most marvellous and fascinating time on Simanderal, Caribbean style, and thank Mike and Ger for putting us up/ up with us so generously over the past two weeks. We won't forget the experience!
Over and out from us then! ..while Simanderal continues on south tomorrow towards Martinique then St Lucia to pick up the next visitors, Simon and Alexander.