Wai’tukubuli – Tall Is Her Body

 

How can you not love the original name of Dominica? The Amerindian settlers, who called themselves Kalinago, and were later labeled Caribs by European colonizers, gave the land a name fitting her grand form. She does make quite the first impression!

The beach at Portsmouth

The designation, Dominica, derived from Latin for “Sunday”, the day the Europeans first encountered the island, is just boring in comparison. And there is nothing boring about this place.

The birds are always happy to see the fishermen
This house is covered in conch shells! We were told it’s for sale. As tempting as it was, we decided to pass.

We had never yet visited a land as lush and verdant, with fruits and vegetables growing in natural abundance everywhere you look. More than one local claimed that no one goes hungry in Dominica. We were moored only an hour before we were approached by “Diamond”, who rowed out to us on a paddle board selling mangoes, bananas, limes, coconuts, nutmeg, and more.

Diamond paddling away

He told us he simply walked into the forest and picked his ware for the day. We soon realized that we could do the same, but we’d rather buy from the residents and support the local economy.

Our mooring in Portsmouth was managed by PAYS, Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security & Services. This group is run by several young men, who provide mooring assistance, tours of the island, security in the harbor, propane refills, beach parties, and more. Their livelihoods depend on cruisers’ willingness to employ their services, and we were happy to oblige. Our guy, Faustin (“Alexis”, as he and his business are known), and his nephew, Fitzroy, took excellent care of us during our too-short stay.

“Alexis” is all smiles as Fitzroy does all the hard work rowing us up and down the Indian River

They took us on a tranquil tour of Indian River, which included a pleasant walk through fertile forest land to a farm where all sorts of delicious things grow.

Stunning scenes on the Indian RiverStunning scenes on the Indian River
DOM - Indian River tour (4)
DOM - Indian River tour (5)
The Witch's House in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean moviesThe Witch's House in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies

 

Elephant tree!Elephant tree!
The tree roots are extraordinaryThe tree roots are extraordinary
Motor boats are not allowed, nor tourists without a guideMotor boats are not allowed, nor tourists without a guide

Fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices were all in abundance, and we were given samples as souvenirs. On another day we joined Fitzroy and other cruisers, including friends Tammy & Bruce on s/v Dos Libras, for a land tour.

"BAH-nana" as they are called in Dominica"BAH-nana" as they are called in Dominica
These aren't rotten! They're called "golden bananas"These aren't rotten! They're called "golden bananas"
Pineapple grow on the sides of the roadsPineapple grow on the sides of the roads
StarfruitStarfruit
Looks like the Emerald Pool was a bit on the chilly side!
AvocadoAvocado
MangoMango
PassionfruitPassionfruit
BreadfruitBreadfruit
Beautiful abandoned church
With Leslie, our plantation guide, surrounded by lemongrassWith Leslie, our plantation guide, surrounded by lemongrass
ThymeThyme
Scraping cinnamon right from the treeScraping cinnamon right from the tree
Cocoa bean podCocoa bean pod
A tree you could move into!
Whacking a coconut with the machete we brought along. Never go on a forest hike without one!Whacking a coconut with the machete we brought along. Never go on a forest hike without one!
They even grow tobacco on this plantationThey even grow tobacco on this plantation
Changing my mind about picking this spikey breadfruitChanging my mind about picking this spikey breadfruit
The vestiges of an old mill

We visited a chocolate producer, a stunning waterfall, and the Carib Village inside the Kalinago Territory; where descendants of the original settlers still reside, and demonstrate to visitors their ancestors’ way of life.

A past chief of the Kalinago tribe, now a craftsman of beautiful calabash sculpturesA past chief of the Kalinago tribe, now a craftsman of beautiful calabash sculptures
These heads are carved from treesThese heads are carved from trees

One of our last days on the island was spent taking a bus to the big town of Roseau, to explore its nearby watery sites. The bus ride was cheap and easy, and in just over an hour we were standing at the base of Trafalgar Falls, two extraordinarily beautiful, side-by-side waterfalls.

Trafalgar Falls. The tiny yellow spot at the base of the left one is where we were trying to climb. It doesn’t look far, but those boulders are as tall as I am!

Feeling adventurous, and frugal, we made the mistake of not hiring a guide to take us to the top of one, where the promise of a hot sulfur spring baited us into a steep, slippery climb. We were warned to abort at the start of heavy rainfall, so as to not get caught in a flash flood. Halfway up the treacherous route, over enormous, wet, slick boulders it began to pour. Realizing we were in over our heads, because we could not locate the path over the huge rocks to the springs even though we could see them above us, we turned tail and slid our way back down in the deluge. Next time we’re hiring a local!

Arriving at the Papillote Wilderness Retreat soaking wet and shivering in the mountain air, we were given a day pass to soak in their hot mineral spring pools. The hot water was welcoming to our already aching muscles.

Finally relaxing in hot mineral waterFinally relaxing in hot mineral water
There's nothing like soaking in a sulphur pool while a waterfall tumbles nearbyThere's nothing like soaking in a sulphur pool while a waterfall tumbles nearby
Waterfalls were everywhere!Waterfalls were everywhere!

After marinating, rewarding ourselves with a couple of cocktails, and enjoying a delicious lunch, we were ready to continue our journey. Donning our still-drenched clothing, we contacted our new friend, Liz, to meet her and her husband downhill at their amazing rain forest guest house, Cocoa Cottages. Liz, a childhood pal of a good New Orleans friend, graciously offered to pick us up. When we realized just how far we would have walked otherwise, we were extremely grateful.

Who doesn't love a treehouse? (Photo courtesy of Cocoa Cottages)Who doesn't love a treehouse? (Photo courtesy of Cocoa Cottages)
All spaces open up to lush gardens (Photo courtesy of Cocoa Cottages)All spaces open up to lush gardens (Photo courtesy of Cocoa Cottages)

Liz and Richard not only own the eco-lodge, but they run Extreme Dominica, an adventure tour company that we were sorry to have to save enjoying for our next visit. Liz plied us with cocoa tea, chocolate cake, and melt-in-your-mouth coconut sprinkled chocolate, all made from scratch with cocoa grown on their property. We really need more friends like this!

After the bus ride back to Portsmouth, we started prepping for the next leg of our journey south, sorry to leave the land of the tall-bodied lady after only a week, but knowing we’d be back next year to play on her some more. After all of the week’s activities we were eager to get to a place where we could kick back and relax with some cold French rosé and stinky cheese, which we’d woefully understocked in Îles des Saintes. Next up, Martinique!

DOM - flora (4)
DOM - flora (2)
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6 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! We are leaving for Grenada tomorrow! Do you have any friends there ? We are looking for fellow sailors.

    1. Hi Camille! We’re in Grenada right now. We’re anchored right off Hog Island on the south end of Grenada. We’ll keep an eye out for you. We also monitor channel 68 when we are aboard. What is the name of your boat?

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