Saturday, January 30, 2016


We had heard from many cruisers that Dominica is a favorite destination so we were looking forward to experiencing what the love was all about. We thought it was really beautiful and the people we met were really kind and interesting. But we barely scratched the surface of this large island and all it has to offer so I don't think we fully experienced it. And our mindset might not have been the best to really appreciate it, either. Nonetheless, we had a really nice time and it was a great place to put the brakes on and have some fun.

Thankfully the trip south to Portsmouth, Dominica was relatively short because the wind was honking right up our noses! We sailed a little off course to go fast and then motored into 30knots coming in to the bay. As expected we were met by one of the members of PAYS: Portsmouth Area Yacht Association. This is an organized group of guys who divvy up their services amongst the boaters. One boat will come out to greet you and then work with you to arrange tours and get services. It's a well-run organization and keeps the harbor feeling safe. Some people like it, others feel like it's just another way to part with lots of cash. Titus (who works with Lawrence of Arabia - they all have great names) came out to greet us and helped us get a mooring ball.

We asked Titus to sign us up for a tour of the Indian River in the morning but got washed out. It rains a lot in Dominica!

We went on the tour the next morning and Titus drove us to the mouth of the river to hand us off to a different guide. We were a little bummed because Titus was so nice and we didn't know who we'd be going with but it turned out great.

We were handed over to James Bond who was perfect as a guide for us. He immediately tuned in to what the kids oohed and aahed about and made a special point of spotting things he thought they'd want to see.

We took an early morning tour and had the place to ourselves. It was so cool and peaceful. We could hear all of the birds. James knew a ton about all of the plants and animals and was happy to answer every question.

So pretty.

The sign.

James showing the kids some plants. The river tour ends at a hidden bar in the jungle. Even though it was 9:30 in the morning we indulged in a drink called a hurricane. Two hurricanes, in fact. Whoa! Take me to the river! James had one too and we weren't sure who was going to have to row us all back.

James made these pretty animals out of palm leaves for the kids.

Grasshopper and fish for Drew, hummingbird and fish for Cubby.

Then James taught the kids how to make the fish.

This is part of the set for the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It's Calypso's house.

We've had a serious fishing dry spell so indulged in some fresh, local lobster. 

A couple days earlier we had met the crew of Salmagal. They live right near New Bedford, MA which was one of our favorite stops in the Northeast. The kids had a lot of fun playing together and the adults had a really nice dinner out. Drew demonstrated lobster cleaning.

Then the kids went over to Salmagal and had a blast swinging from their spinnaker pole. 

Cubby hesitated but then loved it.

Mira's turn! She's an expert.

Then their tow rope was used for its true purpose. If we were doing this for longer we would definitely get a tow rope and wish we had thought of it sooner. 

Taking a break on the paddleboard.

Titus arranged a guide to take us to hike up to Milton Falls. Unlike our fortuitous hook up with James Bond, our tour guide for this outing, Slim, was beyond disappointing. He was downright hostile. We were kicking ourselves for not just renting a car and asking James to be our guide. Slim showed us the things he was probably supposed to show us but somewhat grudgingly and with no explanation. Fresh green coffee beans. 

The large island is full of beautiful and interesting hikes and this is just one tiny one. We don't feel like we made the most of our visit because the hiking seems to be the real highlight. But I think we were just ready to turn around.

The island is so lush and fertile that many things can be grown easily. When you go to the grocery store, see if anything comes from Dominica. Slim snipped some thyme and basil and dug up some ginger root for us to take home. 

A little bit of scrambling brought us to the falls. Tropical Storm Erika brought so much rain that a lot of mud and rocks came over the falls and filled in the pool.

It was very pretty but we sort of stood around not knowing what to do with ourselves while Slim sulked on a rock. It was pretty shallow and no one was up for a chilly dip. Maybe after all our traveling we're just burned out on waterfalls and hiking! 

Andy and the kids all opted for the rope swing to get across. I walked. 

Without explanation Slim drove us to another spot where we all got out of the car and he silently took a seat on the side of the road. Andy managed to pull out of him that we stopped because there was a chance of seeing the national bird, the Sisserou parrot, there. But I think all he said was, "parrots." And we briefly saw these two then just got back in the car.

Every day a group of Haitian ladies line the street near the dock and sell fresh produce. As you walk past they shout, "Hey, lady! Come! Come here!" all at once, motioning to their goods. It's pretty funny how they compete for your business and try to distract you and lure you away while you're making a purchase from one table. And if you walk past to scan everything first and say you'll be back, they will hold you to it. But they're all friends and enjoy ribbing each other. There is such an abundance of beautiful fresh produce it's hard to stop buying. But the true market day is Saturday. We didn't get up early enough to really experience it but actually preferred non-market day when we could shop without blaring music and a blaring preacher. 

Sandy's Beach restaurant is where we had a really good dinner out with Liz and Andy from Salmagal.

Our haul before we left. Underneath the pile there are a couple green spiky things called christophines (chayote in Mexico). They are very easy to cook and quite delicious and are somewhere between a vegetable and a squash. I hope we can find them in a grocery store one day.

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