No Rain, No Rainbows....
Trip Start Dec 09, 2006
217Trip End Ongoing
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Much of Dominica is set aside as Reserves which are covered with tropical rain forests. Perhaps the "wet spot" of the Lesser Antilles - it boasts 365 rivers. A glance of the island chart certainly reveals many more rivers compared to other nearby islands. It's also perhaps the poorest of the eastern Caribbean islands. What a dichotomy! The poverty is glaring, yet the residents appear well fed and most seem to have cell phones. All the young residents have iPods. Electricity must not be too expensive as evidenced by the loud music booming from town every night
We soon discovered how the island stays so green and fills so many rivers. It rains a lot - and this was supposed to be the start of the dry season! Don't believe it if you are told the rainy season ends with the hurricanes. We are still in the rainy season--one guidebook describes it as lasting through January—and we believe it. The boat was soon cleansed of all salt and Dave devised a way to collect rain water streaming off the bimini. We marveled at the seemingly continuous beautiful rainbows that could be seen.
On December 18, a Saturday (read "market day" in the Caribbean), we felt adventuresome and decided to take a "bus" to explore the main town of Roseau, on the SW side of the island, about an hour’s drive away (approx 30 miles) where the island’s main market is held
The drive followed the contour of the seaside, passing through several small communities, many elevated amongst hilltops. Compared to Portsmouth, Roseau is cosmopolitan. The cruise ships dock here and all the streets we saw were paved
The following morning we took an easy hike to the restored Fort Shirley near our anchorage. This was a British garrison begun in 1774. Over the years, depending on who controlled the island, the French and British continued to expand the fort until it was abandoned as no longer needed in 1854, rapidly being overgrown by the tropical vegetation. Portions have been restored and it was interesting to see the high quality of original construction. Coincidently, while we were there, a replica square rigger cruise ship was docked at the fort's dock, completing the 1800s scene for us. We also hiked to some pre-restoration ruins that were fascinating. Stone works and undisturbed cannons consumed by rain forest set an eerie, ancient scene. Donna thought that of all the many forts she had visited over the years, this one was the best because of those items still found in their original state—especially the cannons with their royal markings still visible and a fascinating original stone stairwell carved of many steps into and up the steep peak of the mountain--you could just imagine the troops mustering up that exquisite stairwell
While touring Fort Shirley we learned some more Virginia history as we had back on Nevis. The Jamestown settlers visited Dominica on their way to Nevis and eventually to Virginia. This was documented on a plaque provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia, displayed in the restored section of Fort Shirley, commemorating the 1985 reenactment of the 1607 voyage of the Godspeed to Dominica. We expect the settlers had no trouble filling their water casks....
Donna had inadvertently jammed the little toe on her left foot into one of our deck chairs (she wasn’t looking where she was going when Dave beckoned for help raising the dinghy) and this put off our plans to take a more ambitious tour and hike in the Dominican interior mountain rain forests. We felt it best to give her toe a chance to recover and would return to Dominica on our way back north in February or March. Maybe then the dry season will have arrived, making it more conducive anyway for hiking at length. Right now, even our boat boy tour guide agreed that it would be a muddy trek.