Our stay in Dominica was short but intense.
The French “je ne sais quoi” is replaced by a disarming authenticity – people and places. As Sorin says “Dominica is the real deal” – purely Caribbean. A charming chaos wherever you go combined with a disarming natural beauty. From hot water pools and numerous cascades to lush forests roamed by slick reptiles and the vine entwined Indian River boarded by huge tree roots, nature has painted its colours with a bold brush. Behind the narrow coastal shelves and grey sandy beaches green mountains covered in dense tropical forests are towering.
Former English colony, the Caribs’ drive for autonomy prevailed and Dominica gained their independence in 1978. Affected by hurricanes that hit the island dead on, the Dominicans are less well off than the neighbouring French Islands. Nevertheless they hold their independence with pride and joy.
We sailed past Roseau, the capital, and dropped anchor in Prince Rupert’s Bay, Dominica’s best anchorage.
The bay, neighbouring the former capital of Portsmouth, was named after Prince Rupert of the Rhine; he found refuge there in 1652 trying to escape Oliver Cornwall’s navy.
Run by the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services (PAYS) this is a safe base for yacht-ies who want to visit the Indian River and the Cabries National Park, both in close proximity. The weekly barbecues organised by PAYS are a great opportunity to meet other sailors and tear your shoes apart dancing in the sand to reggae beats.
It was hard to wake up the following day, but we needed to check in the country and we set off on our small adventure across Portsmouth to the Customs Office. The mission was a success in the end.
On visiting the Cabrits National Park, former major military garrison, we were ‘welcomed’ by snakes, lizards, crabs and various birds. Nature seems to have reclaimed the once stripped hills in full force. Ficus trees wound their roots in and around the walls of the abandoned military buildings.
The Indian River banks, once inhabited by Amerindians, is boarded by huge tree roots. The red jus secreted by these roots in abundance is the source of the red face paint that the Indians were using. The various versions of ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean’ were filmed on the Indian River’s banks
Warning! If you happen to be in Dominica do not set your watch after the roosters, as they sing day and night. Apparently they feed on marijuana seeds and so, they seem to have lost track of time themselves!
We are now in Guadeloupe, having stopped in Marie Galante on the way. Soon we will be settling sail for the ABC islands, on our way to the Panama Canal.