17 May 2008

Swampy rivers, mountains and waterfalls in Dominica

May 17, 2008

We'd been looking forward to visiting Dominica ever since we planned our cruise on Whisper. Unfortunately, it wasn't as successful as we had hoped. The anchorages were all really rolly and no matter where we placed a stern anchor we still rolled all night long, resulting in a lack of energy for hiking and sore backs and general grumpiness. Also, generally the locals were not very friendly and it always seemed like someone was trying to hustle us for money. Of course we met nice, friendly people, but in general there were few smiles and little conversation. The phenomena of boat boys is steadily working its way to Dominica so we also felt a little insecure leaving Whisper so we locked her up tight every time we left the boat. Not a very pleasant feeling. It also seems like the boat boy business is well-fueled by the sailing guide written by Chris Doyle who heartily recommends everyone to use boat boys for everything: laundry, groceries, transportation, guides, etc. After reading Chris Doyle, one wonders how cruisers function on other islands without boat boys. One final problem we had with Dominica was the absolute lack of good dinghy docks. It was hard to go ashore without having a place to leave the dinghy without it getting washed under the dock, even with a stern anchor laid out. sigh. Having said all that, the next time we come to Dominica, we'll be prepared to rent a car to explore inland...and arrive well-rested!

Our first stop was Portsmouth and, together with Uliad and Someday Came, we went on a highly touted tour of the Indian River. Suffice it to say, it was a bit of a tourist trap and while the river scenery was interesting, we could have rowed our dinghy for free instead of paying US$15/pp.

The river bar, part of the Indian River tour.

going up the Indian River with the crew of Uliad and Someday Came.

The next expedition was successful. We caught a ride to the Machoucheri Rum Factory halfway down the coast where they still use the traditional methods to make rum: water-powered machinery, wood-fired steam engine and scythes to cut the cane.

The water-powered sugarcane press at the rum factory.

The rum factory.

We then moved Whisper south to the capital, Rousseau with hopes to hike up to the Boiling Lake. However, after too many sleepless nights, we decided to forgo the trip. Instead, we took a short bus ride to Trafalgar Falls and luxuriated in the cool, fresh water for hours. There are two falls, both at least 200+ feet (75 meters) high and surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery.

Kristen getting power-washed at the waterfalls.

Hans at the Trafalgar Falls... pretty huge!

The second Trafalgar Fall.

On Saturday morning we went to the market and stocked up on fresh fruit and veg produced by local small-scale farmers.