|Rugged Coast of Dominica|
Well for starters its where much of Pirates of the Caribbean 2, Dead Man's Chest, was filmed. All the parts that show lush jungle, mountains and chasms were here. The parts with the white sand beaches were filmed in the Exumas, part of the Bahamas. Movie's, being magic, manage to squash lots of that together and make it look like its on one island. But while Dominica has lush rain forests it also has five active volcanoes so there are absolutely no white sand beaches. The beaches are the brownish to black sands that are a result of volcanic action. This is the loveliest and lushest island we've been to. Greenery erupts everywhere – huge trees with buttress roots the size of a small house, two story tall tree ferns, hanging vines that Tarzan would have loved, 140 species of ferns plus birds and butterflies. The roads are lined with colourful plants like crotons, ginger, heliconia, hibiscus, red and pink dracaena. It's as if the tropical greenhouse at Banting's Nursery ran wild.
|Swinging Bridge and river crossing|
|45° up AND 45° sideways!|
(Is it called hiking if you're crawling?)
In our desire to experience all we can, we've done stuff I would NEVER EVER have imagined doing. We've crossed swinging bridges over deep chasms, we've climbed the ridge of a mountain to an overlook high, high, high above the harbour. We've hiked up and down mountains to four of the 7 waterfalls and crossed rivers clinging to rocks and fallen logs. We're saving the sulphur springs and boiling lake until our return next year! But, visiting Ti Tu Gorge we swam in a slot cavern to a waterfall, climbed through that waterfall to visit another waterfall. (You saw Orlando Boom and crew fall into this gorge and swim in this river when breaking out of the bone cage). We also had the fun of being rowed up Indian River, just like Capt Jack Sparrow and the crew of the Black Pearl, and saw the house of the witch. In real life it's nearly as mysterious, magical and beautiful as in the movie.
Columbus visited this island in 1493 on his 2nd voyage, his first landing of the voyage; and, as he landed on a Sunday, he named it "dies Dominica" for the day of the week. When Columbus explained this island to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain he took a sheet of paper and crumbled it up to show the rugged peaks, deep valleys and gorges of the island. It's history like much of the Caribbean is tied to the wars of the European nations. For 100 years after its discovery it became the last home of the Carib indians who held on to it with a ferocity that kept the Spanish at bay. They live here to this day. While the vast majority of Dominicans are of African descent this is the one place where there is a sizeable population (about 3,000) of the pre-columbian natives that we call Caribs. in 1903 a special Carib Territory was set up for them by the British crown. Today most of them live here in 8 villages.
|Carib's still make dugouts from the Gommier Tree|
|An hour hike got us to this waterfall in Syndicate Forest|
When Britain passed the Brown Privilege Bill many slaves from the French neighbouring islands fled to Dominica and by 1838 Dominica had the only legislative assembly in the British colonies to have elected a majority of African legislators. The planter class was not happy with this situation and eventually Dominica became a Crown Colony with direct rule from England. In the 20th Century as England shed it's colonial nature Dominica became the Commonwealth of Dominica on Nov 3, 1978.
Today it is still recovering from the effects of hurricanes and the collapse of the banana market in the 1990s. But the small farmers, often Rastafarians, have become the vegetable source to all the other Leeward islands. We've been eating Dominica produce since we arrived in St. Martin.
|Rastafarian Farms produce a plethora of organic fruits and vegetables|
|All locally grown!|
Dominica depends on tourism. It is not an easy island to visit, so more than most other islands, it has encouraged the cruising sailors to come. About 10 years ago Dominica decided to refurbish its image and make the island attractive to boaters by establishing a simplified clearance procedure and even more important, the boat boys organised!
Boat Boys of the Caribbean~
|Titus, our "boat boy"|
Roy's birthday March 6, celebrated in the PAYS Event Shed with Cruising Friends
|Old French Plantation House|
Now here's Ti Tu Gorge – a slot canyon with a river at the bottom fed by waterfalls
|The Entrance from Above|
Looking Up - This is where the bone cages came crashing down