Eco-tourism in Dominica

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February 26th 2013
Published: February 26th 2013
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The Duncan’s Day Out On Dominica (Cameron & Daddy)

On Wednesday we went on a tour around the island. To split the cost we did the tour with a Dutch family, their names are Hene and Nadine. Our guide was called Craig. His taxi, like all the taxis in Dominica, is a minivan.

We started heading to Emerald Pool, which was our first stop. The walk from the where the taxi stopped was about 15 minutes, through the jungle. As we arrived we could see that the waterfall was right next to the fresh water pool. I have to admit it was very cold.

Titou Gorge was stop number two. The walk was about 10 minutes and, apparently, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was partly filmed there. We got changed and headed into the water. There was an archway which looked a bit like a cave. As we were swimming we looked up and could see up the gorge. Further on was a small waterfall, which our guide helped us climb. The current was very strong.

On the way to Trafalgar Falls we saw some wild coffee beans and a cinnamon tree. You actually get the cinnamon from the bark of the tree. The coffee bean has a red shell, which you peel off, then you dry the greenish coffee beans, and they then go brown.

Trafalgar Falls is the second biggest waterfall in Dominica. The walk was a short journey to the waterfall. There are lots of hot water pools that are warmed from the hot springs due to geo-thermal activity. When you go into the pools it is like being in a luxurious warm bath.

The botanical garden is the main public garden in Dominica, and has every type of palm tree in the world. There are also over 100 different varieties of other tree there. In the old days it used to be where people got to know each other.

Did you know?

· The temperature ranges from 69.8⁰F – 86⁰F.

· Dominica has the most rainfall out of all of the other Caribbean islands.

· The population is 67,922.

· Morne Diablatins is the highest point at 4,747 feet.

· The bananas in the wild grow more than one branch. Despite creating more bananas, they are not so big or nutritious as those that are required for export. Those are deliberately stopped from growing more than one branch.

DOMINICA (Samuel & Daddy)

We went in our dinghy to the pontoon. There was Craig, our bus guide. It was a very long time in the bus. Emerald Pool is a pool of rain water with a waterfall. Then we went to swim at Titou Gorge. There you have to swim in dark water. When you got close to the waterfall it is very hard to swim because of the upstream rapids. At the water fall we had to climb up. There was a mini-waterfall in the gorge that was about a metre and a half high. The water was flowing very fast. Then we went to Trafalgar falls that had really warm water. There were lots of pools there. Then we went through rainforest back to the boat. On the way we saw a cacao husk, like the ones we had seen in Grenada.

· Then I found a bright red and green flower.

· Craig had a knife and cut of bark of a cinnamon tree.

· And then we went to a botanical garden. One of the plants was planted by Queen Elizabeth the second.

Dominica (Gill)

As you can see Dominica is an island with an amazing interior. The rainforest is incredibly deep and thick. The terrain is mountainous and largely unexploited. On the eastern side of the island there is a Carib reservation which is coming to terms with a rapidly developing world – although in Dominica that pace of development is pretty slow. Roseau, the island’s capital is a fun and friendly town. People greet each other warmly in the street. Cruise ships have recently started stopping at the island and it is showing promise. Paul Rayson would have wet himself to hear Essex-girl Lisa being accused by a local Dominican policeman in full regalia swear blind that Lisa was from Australia (“G’day mate!”)! After Hurricane David a number of Dominicans chose to settle in the UK and now they are returning and it is not unusual to hear a cockney accent among the local girls and boys.

The Prime Minister has courted Chinese officials and been granted huge amounts (relative to the wealth of Dominica) of money to improve the infrastructure, an amazing 12,000-seater cricket stadium and of course a palatial set of offices, to rival the White House – more than a little at odds with the rest of the ramshackle town. Locals are suspicious as to what China might want in exchange for this support but they are not in a position to bite the hand that feeds them, and with little likely aid coming from the UK (their former colonial rulers) who can blame them.

The sea immediately around the island deepens rapidly (as it is another volcanic island) and like Santorini it is as though someone has poured Parker blue-black ink into the water – such is the deep-blue colour of the water. En route here Lisa thought that she had seen a sharks fin but it is far more, likely given the size and shape of what she saw, that it was a whale. This island and time of year are ripe for whale viewings and sperm and killer whales are regularly spotted. At the Anchorage hotel, nearby where we are moored, there is the skeleton of a killer whale and dive clubs abound.

We spend a few days in Roseau and then head north to Portsmouth, the islands second town. Here the boat-boys have formed a union and run a well-attended Sunday night barbeque to raise the funds to cover its activities such as a harbour patrol, rubbish disposal and manning a watch on the dinghy dock.

The Portsmouth has a vibrant market running as we explore on Saturday morning. Fruit, vegetables, herbs and eggs are the main attraction – meat is rarely seen and rarely good. Instead the protein comes from the fish, which spend their time being pursued by wahoo, barracuda and Spanish mackerel in the bay. As we have a sundowner we see shoals leaping to escape becoming dinner – too bad we can’t ever hook them ourselves.

Dominica hosts the largest percentage of Rastafarians in the Caribbean. The all-pervading pungent aroma of grass is a constant background smell. That said the populace are peaceful and seemingly happy. This is not an island as impoverished as Union Island. Uniquely the government have spoken with the local boat boys, gathered them together to encourage them to unify and attract visiting yachtsmen as opposed to shooing them away with aggressive behaviour and extortion. A modest investment to build a Dutch barn, named the event centre, is the venue for a Sunday night yachties’ barbeque. This is the forum to raise funds for Portsmouth Associated Yachts Services (or PAYS for short) and with a small fee for (lethal) rum punches, barbequed fish (as good as we’ve tasted) and chicken, salad etc and music it pulls together the yachting community and assures them that the security is vastly improved through a persistent presence on the dinghy dock and a patrolling night-watchman by day and night. They encourage us to take advantage the use of the (excellent) tours of the Indian River and the nearby waterfalls. It is unique in that the local boat boys have embraced this approach; they give awards for excellence and welcome newcomers and it is working. Dominica used to be off the cruising schedule and now it is eco-tourism writ large. We are sold; Dominica is one of our favourite places from the whole trip.

Teamed up with the Blues we head up to Fort Shirley, sat on the northern tip and overlooking Portsmouth Bay Bay. A local 60th birthday party is in full swing when we get there but we are welcomed to explore. It is a former British garrison that dominated the French owned islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. The canons face out across the bay and would have made passing Dominica, without a very wide berth, very difficult. Portsmouth was not deemed a suitable capital city and the garrison was constantly plagued by yellow fever due to the low-lying swamp behind the beach. A new resort is being built on that same beach and one can only hope that they have a solution to the mosquito threat that thoroughly troughed us in the short time we walked along that part of the beach and the fledgling resort foundations.

The following morning we join Titus and Devon for a tour of the Indian River (with shabby-looking parents and sleepy kids). It is well worth the trip, spotting different crabs, birds and flora and fauna along its banks. Devon sculls and punts the boat up the river (no outboard engines are allowed up it) and it is amazing. Yet another set for filming the Pirates of the Caribbean (this time the third one), it is not hard to see why. It is amazing for all of us to get the chance to get inland like this.

Finally we must leave Dominica. We fill up water at the cruise ship dock and enjoy a fabulous beam reach, in close company with the Blues, to Les Saintes. Dominica has been amazing. We have loved the people and the country in equal measure – a real highlight.

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The Fantastic FourThe Fantastic Four
The Fantastic Four

Lashings of ginger beer...

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